Planning an Effective Fundraising Campaign

KindfulNovember 19, 2014

Planning an Effective Fundraising Campaign header image

Every nonprofit we know, big or small, has one thing in common: they need to raise money to support their core mission. Unfortunately, this necessity of the nonprofit world is often a sore spot for many organizations. At Kindful, that does not sit well with us! We believe that with the right planning, tools and tactics, fundraising can be more than the equivalent of a visit to the dentist’s office (ouch!). With this in mind, we decided to create a five-part blog series geared towards helping nonprofits supercharge their fundraising efforts.

We’ve broken out the series into five parts:

  1. Planning – You’d never go on a road trip without a set of directions, right? The same thing is true with fundraising. We’ve put together a set of leading practices to help you plan your next fundraising campaign.
  2. People – Donors are like snowflakes, from afar they look the same but up close each is different. We’re going to help you segment your different donors groups so you can customize your outreach accordingly.
  3. Communication – Good communication is everything! We’ve collected some tips and templates to make sure you’re getting the most out of your donor communications.
  4. Tools – Don’t forget your trusty toolbox! We’ve created a list of helpful resources that could save your nonprofit’s staff hours of time!
  5. Avoiding mistakes – A wise man once said, you become an expert in something once you’ve made every mistake possible. Who wants to do that? We’ve created a list of some of the most common fundraising pitfalls so you can become an expert without having to waste time (or resources).

Excited for this series? So are we!

Let’s get started with topic#1: Planning your next fundraising campaign.

Every great accomplishment started with a great plan. Ever renovated part of your house? Anyone who has completed a renovation understands that you can’t start knocking down walls and hope everything turns out okay. You need to create a work plan to figure out what you want the renovation to look like! Fundraising works the same way, by spending the extra time upfront, you set yourself up to accomplish or exceed your fundraising goals.

Let’s explore the five steps to creating a successful fundraising campaign:

1. Set your goals

The first step to any plan is to figure out what’s your end goal. To some this means choosing a dollar amount, which is a good start. However, we want to challenge you to think beyond just that – what specifically will this money be going to? According to GuideStar’s Money for Good II report, 63% of donors want to know how their money will be used. Use this to your advantage during the planning process. By focusing your campaign around a quantifiable goal, you’ll be better positioned to understand the money you need to raise and communicate the value of the campaign to donors.

2. Inventory available staff resources

The next step is to figure out what resources your organization has available to contribute to the campaign. Any fundraising effort will require a significant investment of time so brainstorm what would be required of the people connected with your organization (board members, full time staff, volunteers, etc.) for the campaign to be successful.

3. Determine your fundraising strategy

Once you have a good understanding of your goals and resources, determine what techniques make the most sense for your campaign. There are a ton of great ways to raise money but each has its own requirements, advantages, and costs. By setting aside time upfront to consider the pros and cons of different fundraising approaches, you can figure out which approach makes the most sense given your organization’s specific circumstances.

4. Create a budget with ROI in mind

At Kindful, we believe organizations should get the most out of their resources. That’s why we recommend creating a “budget” to evaluate costs vs. ROI (return on investment) before starting a new fundraising campaign. What do we mean by that? ROI is basically the value that your organization receives for the resources it contributes. To illustrate this idea, let’s say our example nonprofit plans a walk-a-thon: it takes 10 hours (remember, this only an example) of staff time to organize the event and $100 worth of supplies. If the example nonprofit only invites a dozen people to participate and raises a total of $10 dollars, do you think it was a good use of the organization’s resources? Probably not. It’s because the ROI on the fundraising campaign was negative – the walk-a-thon “cost” the organization more than it raised.

Creating a budget with an itemized expense report (staff time, design/printing, travel, etc.) is an important exercise because it provides you with a complete picture of the resources it will take to execute your campaign which you can compare against what you anticipate raising. Then, you can decide if the campaign (in its current form) is a good use of your organization’s resources or whether there’s a better approach.

5. Establish a timeline

Last but certainly not least, what’s the timeline for your fundraising campaign? A good timeline should be more than just a few key dates; it needs to lay out step by step what the activities need to be accomplished along the way for your campaign to be successful. This will serve as a baseline for everyone on your team to understand the tasks that need to be completed and lay out deadlines to keep folks accountable.


Image Credit: Will Scullin

Schedule a live demo with our team, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

Filed Under:   Fundraising