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Successful fundraising campaign planning: 6 simple steps

July 25, 2020
These two nonprofit professionals are planning a successful fundraising campaign.

Whether your nonprofit organization is looking to win support for an issue or inspire donors to take action and give, thoughtful fundraising campaign planning is what makes a campaign succeed. Learn firsthand from seasoned nonprofit leaders how you can plan an effective campaign using just a few simple steps.

Our fundraising campaign strategy example will help your nonprofit organization navigate the ins and outs of planning a successful campaign—regardless if it’s your first or 10th. Let’s break down the six key steps to putting your campaign plan together.

1. Define the victory

Everyone on your team should agree on your fundraising campaign’s core goals. You also need to make sure the definition of your campaign’s success is specific and actionable. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? How will you know that you’ve hit your goal?

2. Evaluate the fundraising campaign climate

Once you clearly define what success will look like for your fundraising campaign, evaluate the climate in which you’ll deploy your outreach. When you understand what’s going on with your issue or audience, you can make a plan to maximize the positives and resolve any weaknesses. 

Identify what’s already working in your favor and what obstacles might cause your message to get lost or be misunderstood. Some questions to help you evaluate your issue’s climate include:

  • What is the current conversation around your issue?
  • Who is the opposition and what is their agenda?
  • Who else is working in favor of this issue?
  • What current events or opportunities can you use to your campaign’s advantage?

Once you’ve researched and discussed these answers with your team, start planning specific actions you’ll take to address the climate you’re working under.

3. Chart the course

Lay out the milestones you must hit on your way to reach your goal. Ideally, these steps should build off of each other and indicate that your fundraising campaign is gaining momentum. Focus these milestones on the desired outcomes, rather than the tactics themselves. 

For example, if your campaign will reach out to local businesses to gain sponsors, your milestone should not be to hold a pitch meeting with these business owners. Rather, it should be that you reach your desired number of confirmed business partners for your cause.

4. Choose your influence strategy

For each step in your fundraising campaign plan, consider the decision-makers who will determine your success. These may be voters, business partners, or public officials. Then, find out who will have the most influence on these decision-makers. These key figures are the people you want to reach and activate to help your initiative gain momentum. 

Just as you did with your campaign goals, get as specific as possible about which stakeholders you want to partner with to achieve victory. Instead of naming broad groups or demographics, such as “the general public,” “voters,” or “women,” find a specific person or create a persona that represents your stakeholders.

5. Message for impact

All fundraising campaigns benefit from a messaging platform that provides everyone in your nonprofit organization with a consistent positioning statement. Keep in mind that a messaging platform doesn’t need to be rigid, nor does it need to be memorized, but it should include your campaign’s core concepts and talking points to serve as a guide for your spokespeople. 

A good message platform includes the following four points:

  • Explain the problem or need that currently exists or the situation that you are working to change.
  • Specify what your campaign is working to accomplish.
  • Describe how you recommend addressing the need or problem, along with specific actions that decision-makers need to take.
  • Explain the result a campaign victory will have and how it will solve the problem you noted at the start.

Ensure that all of your staff and volunteers are on the same page about your messaging platform. Remember to include instruction on any talking points to avoid. 

6. Manage your fundraising campaign

Once you outline the main tactics to achieve your goals, you still need to plan the day-to-day details and actions necessary to get them done. Each assignment should have:

  • A deadline/timeline
  • An individual owner
  • Specific metrics to track
  • A budget

When it comes to metrics, determine the key performance indicators you’ll use to measure success for each assignment. 

Once your campaign is underway, don’t forget to celebrate the small victories with your team to keep everyone motivated!

Ready to get started planning your next fundraising campaign? Learn more about how Bonterra Donor Engagement's Guided Fundraising solution (formerly Network for Good) can support your campaign planning and execution.

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