You’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign … now what?
There’s a first time for everything, and that includes creating your first crowdfunding campaign (if that’s you, congrats!). And unless you just came out from a decade of hibernation, you probably know that the campaign itself is just the first step.
“If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply here—it’s not Iowa, it’s the Internet. And in today’s ever-increasing crowded virtual world, promotion is a must if you want your campaign to be seen, and ultimately if you want people to donate.
What exactly do we mean by “promotion”?
For starters, it doesn’t have to require a huge budget or staff. Thanks to digital tools and technology, it’s easier than ever to market your cause and connect people to action on the go with just a click and with instant gratification.
Promoting your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign can range from sharing on Twitter and Instagram to Facebook ads to emails to your website, to blog posts, and more.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through five strategies for promoting your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign, with a few steps on how you can get started on each.
We encourage you to try one or all – but to tweak them for your specific purposes. What might work for one campaign may not work for another, and the same is true for one nonprofit versus another.
Your nonprofits website is like a welcome mat. It’s usually someone’s first impression, and it should be an invitation to come in. Likewise, in the digital world it invites the visitor to take a look around.
Your website should have the basics on who you are, what you do, and how people can support your cause in various ways. So of course, it’s also the perfect and most obvious place to feature your crowdfunding campaign. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Create a featured banner with an image, graphic, and a short amount of text with the name of the campaign and the call to action. It should be above the fold and if you have a rotator/slider, make it the first one.
- Make sure the links to any campaign pages or relevant blog posts appear in homepage modules that feature content.
- Do you need a new navigation or menu item for this campaign? Add one in so visitors can click on it directly or add it to your “Get Involved” section.
2) Landing Page
- Depending on the campaign, you may want to create a dedicated page on your website to showcase content, the call to action, and other relevant materials, such as toolkits, downloads, etc.
- The page should clearly state the goal of the campaign, and include a donation button and links.
- Is storytelling a big component of the campaign? Think of creating a embeddable photo gallery or a place to add videos, all of which can be easily viewed and shared.
- If your site has a blog or stories section, create at least one post relevant to the campaign.
Despite the new declaration every six months or so that email is dead, it decidedly is not. According to the 2014 M+R & NTEN Nonprofit eBenchmarks study, although click rates and response rates are down, email lists are still growing, ultimately leading to email accounting to a third of online fundraising revenue.
But nonprofits have to work harder than ever to create compelling subject lines and to craft inspiring, educational, and appealing content so their message doesn’t end up in the trash with the slew of other marketing emails people receive each day.
Email is a great way to maintain an ongoing conversation with your supporters about the work you’re doing and to provide an opportunity to take action. Here are a few ways to use email to promote your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
1) Campaign-Specific Emails
- We recommend that you dedicate a set number of emails for your crowdfunding campaign. Depending on the timeline of your campaign, start with at least two, and you may need up to five or six.
- Create a story arc that educates people on the campaign, then moves up the ladder of action with urgency and stronger language for the donation appeal.
- You may want to think about if you want to adjust your email template or design to fit the needs of the campaign.
- Try to avoid unrelated topics in these campaign-specific emails.
2) Newsletters And Updates
- If you have a scheduled newsletter or update going out to your list, absolutely include a feature for your crowdfunding campaign with the ask to donate.
- For emails on other topics, assess whether it is appropriate to include a P.S. or sidebar note about the crowdfunding campaign.
3) Thank Yous, Auto-Responders, And Others
- If you have auto-responders for signing up for things on your site, thank you emails for taking other actions, or other ongoing, auto-communications, consider including a mention about the campaign, either in a P.S. or a “what’s going on” section.
One of the easiest and (free) ways to promote your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign is via social media. It also probably takes the least amount of time and staff resources.
That being said, you don’t want to just put out a Tweet and Facebook post and call it a day. As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, throwing a post out into the fray doesn’t automatically elicit thousands of donations, no matter how much brand recognition and love you have already.
But if you’re just getting started, using social media to market your campaign may seem intimidating and overwhelming at first – you may be asking yourself: What to use? When to post? How much? How do I know if it’s working? Try these basic approaches to get going:
1) Create A Tagline And/Or Hashtag For Consistent Use Across All Networks
- Stick with 1-3 words that are memorable, catchy, and easy to type.
- Use this phrase or hashtag when posting to Instagram, Twitter, and even Facebook for branding and ease of search.
2) Match Content To The Appropriate Platform
- If you have a lot of photos or videos, you’ll want to make Instagram and Facebook a big part of your social strategy.
- Consider Twitter for quick facts, stats, and direct appeals to donate. Don’t leave out the pictures though! Tweets with pictures get 5 times the engagement as those without.
3) Don’t Give Away The Store On The First Day
- Unless your campaign is only a couple of days, spread out your messaging over time.
- Build a story arc that starts with education and branding, leading into stories and a “soft appeal” (avoiding direct language about donating), leading up to a “hard appeal” (very direct messaging).
- Avoid social media fatigue by creating other ways to engage with the campaign in addition to donating (sharing, viewing content, submitting content, etc.).
Public Relations And Outreach
The widespread use of social media doesn’t mean that traditional public relations has gone out of style. It just means that you actually have more resources at your fingertips to help you determine the best publications and journalists or bloggers to reach out to.
Now, you can do research on Twitter or with a quick Google search to find out what is being written about and by whom, and tools like Help a Reporter Out and the Public Insights Network make it easier for journalists to get the stories they need. You may not have the capacity to do a full-blown pitch plan, but here are a few ways to cover your bases on outreach:
1) Compile A Blogger List
- It’s worth creating a “living” list of bloggers that write about your organization’s cause and philanthropy as a whole. Then, break it down into sub-lists that may fit with your campaign specifics. Think niche – contact at least a handful of people on your list, and start cultivating a relationship with them.
2) Send Out A Press Release
- Press releases aren’t used as frequently anymore, but depending on the campaign, it may still be useful and help you gain some buzz, especially if you have big name partners on board, or a unique or exciting goal that would appeal to broad audiences.
- Releases are also easy to upload to content distribution services that get your name out there and are frequently shared
3) Offer An Exclusive To One Outlet
- If there’s a particular outlet or journalist you’ve been trying to get in with, consider offering an exclusive (interview with your CEO or a celebrity ambassador; first to press) for your campaign.
While it may not always be applicable, when it is, utilizing partners is one of the best forms of marketing for your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign. They bring additional brand recognition and credibility to your campaign, and they extend your potential audience, perhaps by thousands, or even millions. It’s important to create a document (often called an MOU, or Memorandum of Understanding) that outlines the partnership agreement and what each party is contributing to the campaign, including marketing and promotional efforts. Here are a few options to think about when discussing partner promotion:
1) Create A Partner Toolkit
- To make it easy for your partners to promote the campaign, pull together all relevant materials such as blog post and press release templates, logos, images, approved quotes, and more.
2) Request A Specific Number Of Promotional Posts
- You may want to outline a target number of Facebook posts, Tweets, or blog posts about the campaign. (And make sure you track results on both ends.)
3) Lean On Them For Their Reach
- Use partner names, Twitter handles, and logos in your campaign marketing when possible to enhance the brand.
- Ask your partners to reach out to their press contacts and their own partner network as appropriate to help spread the word.
Other (Advertising, Events, Print, Etc.)
While much of what we’ve covered has a strong foundation in digital marketing and communications, there are still many “traditional” offline promotion options to consider for your campaign, depending on your resources and budget.
Is it worth placing a print ad in local or national publications? Would your CEO make a great guest for a local TV or radio show? Would an event like a volunteer activity, meetup, or relevant speaker help raise funds and spread the word? Is this an opportunity for a direct mail appeal?
There are also some other digital marketing tactics to explore, such as Google Ads (nonprofits can apply through the Google Grants program), Facebook or Twitter ads, and posting to relevant discussion forums and community sites.
Putting It All Together
You could spend as little as a few hours to days and weeks coming up with and implementing various promotional strategies and tactics for your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign. Your goal, timeline, and resources will all impact what you are able to do and how you do it, so remember that your approach may change from one campaign to the next.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it’s okay if something doesn’t work – it’s up to you to test, analyze, and optimize until you find what works – and even then, you should always be adapting and adjusting with technology and best practices, and of course, with your community.