Book & Guide

Communications and Timing for Crowdfunding & Online Fundraising

“Communications timing – The choice, judgment, or control of when something should be said”

Communications timing is a deadly art. It can help or hinder your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign.

One time, we saw a small nonprofit launch their online fundraising campaign one week before their team went on vacation. Did it succeed? Heck no.

Another time, we saw a startup nonprofit capitalize on timing to inspire their support base. They raised $23,000 in 24 hours.

Your timing is just as important as your messaging and community. There are three types of timing: launch, duration, and communication.

Let’s figure out how you can use the art of timing with your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign. For a detailed look at communications and channels you can use, check our our free guide, Crafting a Communications and Fundraising Plan.

Timing your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign

Launch timing is determining when to start your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign.

How to find the right launch date

1. Know the calendar
Check holidays, special days and events. Know your calendar so you can take advantage of specials days which can bring added incentive to give.

Look for cause related days like World Water Day, Giving Tuesday, International Day of Poverty or Earth Day.

Be mindful of holidays (ex. Easter, Independence Day, etc) as those can disrupt your momentum. If you’re launching a campaign in the fall that is not in December, do it before mid November so you leave enough room for year-end giving.

2. Plan your fundraising timeline
Your online fundraising campaign should fit within your overall fundraising timeline. Plan your campaign so it doesn’t compete with your other fundraising projects or events.

For example, it you have an annual gala in March, host your online fundraising campaign a few months after that so that you, your staff and donors are not fatigued.

Once you plot out your fundraising timeline, look for gaps in the year when you traditionally don’t have much fundraising happening. The general rule is to have a fundraising push every three months. Gaps in your timeline are perfect opportunities to launch an online fundraising campaign.

3. Be aware of partner initiatives
Work with partners? Be aware of their fundraising initiatives so you don’t overlap.

Let your partners know what you’re planning so they can make time to support your work.

This will help you continue working together instead of competing for time and attention. It’s a good idea to provide them with a toolkit of your promotional materials too so you can leverage their networks for your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign.

4. Tuesday & Wednesdays work the best
We recommend launching your campaign on a Tuesday or a Wednesday because donations peak on those two days of the week. This also gives you a few working days before and after to tie up any loose ends.

Determining the length of your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign

Duration timing is determines how long your online fundraising campaign will be active.

donation curve

How long should your fundraising campaign last?

I’ll be honest. In this section, we wanted to impress the pants off of you with fancy data analytics on the perfect duration of a crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign.

We looked for correlations in our data of campaigns and didn’t find a strong correlation between the length of a crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign and the volume of donations they would receive.

After looking at the data, there was no correlation. Not yet at least.

What we did see were two types of durations and several pros/cons for each approach. Let’s take a deeper look at them.

1. Short-term

A short-term campaign is typically 30 days or less. Short-term crowdfunding and online fundraising campaigns usually see a great amount of activity (site visits, donations, etc) within a short period of time.

Pros of going short-term
• A surge of donations within short period of time
• Allows you to have multiple campaigns a year
• Inherent hot trigger urgency

Cons of going short-term
• Requires dedicated team focus during the campaign
• Less time for adjustment if a technique is not working
• Requires more advanced planning

2. Long-term

A long-term crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign is typically more than one month. A long-term or ongoing campaign usually sees a steady stream of activity (site visits, donations, etc) during its life.

Most nonprofits that use a long-term crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign see it as an ongoing fundraising mechanism or as a way to compliment other giving opportunities.

Pros of going long-term
• Self-service fundraising
• Less work involved

Cons of going long-term
• Less activity over a long period of time
• No urgency of need

Timing your crowdfunding or online fundraising communications

Communication timing is determining when and how often you will communicate with your support base about your crowdfunding or online fundraising.

The basics of communication

The general rule behind communication is that you should communicate when you have something good to share. At the very least you should have four types of communication.

1. Launch notification
Launch your crowdfunding or online fundraising with an email newsletter and a defined call to action to donate or help raise funds.

Plan on sending out email between 3pm to 5pm as it is the best time for personal emails.

Reinforce the message of your launch in all your social media:

  • Facebook page
  • Twitter feed
  • Your blog / website
  • Other

2. Welcome email
The welcome email is targeted at individual or team fundraisers to welcome them to your fundraising campaign. You should include fundraising tips, toolkits and your contact info to help them get started.

Typically this occurs via email and is sent within one day of their page registration. It’s always a good idea to follow up with a phone call a few days later for added support, advice and inspiration.

3. Updates
Update communications notify your support base when something significant happens. The purpose of updates is to keep your community involved and engaged in your campaign.

Updates should be regular and often (daily or several times a week). Consider whether these should be in the form of an email or social media post.  You want to balance “staying connected” with not spamming your support base.

Some common updates include:

  • Fundraising milestone or status
  • Matching grant award
  • Motivational impact story
  • Motivational donor story

Most Facebook sharing is done on Saturday, which would be good for updates.

4. Thank you email
Thank you communications should be personalized and sent to donors as well as personal fundraisers. These can be sent at the end of a campaign (short-term) or within a couple of weeks (long-term). Your thank you should include examples of the impact of the campaign (on the cause) and also ways to stay involved.

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