Planning a Successful Fundraising Appeal – Blog 1

Unfortunately, as we’re all very much aware, the coronavirus pandemic and resultant economic turmoil has caused a huge funding shortfall for many charities. If you’re considering a fundraising appeal to bridge the gap, here’s a handy guide to get you started. This is the first blog in a four part series written by our Fundraising Innovation Manager, Brad French.

We’re in crazy, whirlwind times. If you’re recently back from furlough, or you’re looking at your budgets after the past few chaotic months it’s very easy to panic because you need money now, or you may have needed it weeks ago. However, the first step towards a successful fundraising appeal is to take a deep breath and not rush into it.

As Benjamin Franklin said “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, and his face is on a $100 bill so he probably knows a thing or two about money.

So, how do you go about planning a successful fundraising appeal for your organisation?

First, start by getting a big sheet of paper, a whiteboard or just open a Google Doc in your computer and write down notes and thoughts relating to the following questions.

What Do You Want to Achieve?

What do you want to achieve from this fundraising appeal? Raise £5,000? Get 100 people to send you a bag of second hand clothes? Attract 5 new regular donors?

Set these achievements as SMART objectives for your appeal. There are brighter days ahead and when they arrive, you’ll be able to look back at your objectives and be able to see that you smashed it!

Why Do You Want to Achieve It?

This stage of planning is probably a bit different for charities to other organisations. In a charity, I find that the best way to get people to do what you want, is to tell them why you want them to. This probably doesn’t work the same for huge conglomerates, as asking you to buy a product so that they can increase profits and payout bigger dividends doesn’t have the same level of persuasion.

However, as a charity, generally telling a (potential) supporter the impact that their action is going to have is a good way to persuade them to take that action.

Define the issue that you’re trying to address, then explain how you’re going to address it and what the supporter’s action is going to do to help you achieve this. This forms the proposition that you’re going to approach potential supporters with.

Who Will Help You to Achieve It?

Think about all of the different audiences you would like to donate to the appeal. List all of the different individuals and groups you would like to reach through the appeal.

Now for each individual or group, consider how you are going to reach them. You’ll probably find that different audiences are best reached through different methods. You may find that it would be best to reach certain audiences through multiple methods.

Methods may include chatting on the phone, direct mail, email, social media, text messages. If you’re a bigger organisation then maybe billboards, TV and radio are options too.

When Are You Going to Achieve It?

Plan when you are going to run your appeal. Sometimes this is set in stone, if it’s part of something like the Big Give Christmas Challenge. Other times, it’s up to you as an organisation. If it’s up to you, then perhaps consider when you need the funds and work backwards from there?

How Are You Going to Achieve It?

Once your appeal date is finalised, create a before, during and after list, then list everything that needs to be done for each stage. I often do this on Trello, as you can set reminders so that you are adequately prepared.

Here are a few suggestions for your list, but this definitely isn’t exhaustive!

Before the appeal, you may need to develop content, sort out your database, develop a communications plan and send out communications informing people that the appeal will be happening. 

During the appeal, you may need to send out communications as per your communications plan and thank people for taking action in real-time.

After the appeal, you will want to send a thank you to all who took the call to action, follow up with individuals and share the impact of the appeal on social media or in the press.

As everything is so overwhelming at the moment, we’ve broken this blog down into a mini-series of four bite-sized chunks. If you’ve got this far, now is a good time to take some time to yourself. Or if you’re ready to dive straight into the blog two, you can read all about putting your ideas into an appeal brief.

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