8 Steps for Optimizing Fundraising and Advocacy Campaigns


Updated 8/15/23

National Nonprofit Day is a reminder of how much organizations rely on fundraising. But there is an equally important yet often overlooked aspect of nonprofit work: advocacy. This can take many different forms, from lobbying lawmakers to mobilizing grassroots campaigns, but regardless, all forms of advocacy aim to raise awareness of issues and create meaningful change. When pursued in tandem, fundraising campaigns and advocacy campaigns help nonprofits achieve their long-term goals, namely their mission to serve their constituents.

It’s never too late to launch fundraising and advocacy campaigns. But with so many different ideas, it can be overwhelming to find the right place to start with fundraising and advocacy. Where do you focus your marketing efforts? How do you effectively target your audience and donor base? These are just some of the questions that can make setting up the right campaign feel like something worth putting off — but you shouldn’t!

Fortunately there are many nonprofit marketing plans and digital marketing strategies that can help your organization make a big impact, ensuring you’re doing everything you possibly can to raise more money and win more campaigns. From granular tactics like email automations, social media posts, and SMS text programs to higher level strategies like education and data governance, we dive into some of the best ways to optimize your campaigns. No matter your ambitions for fundraising, advocacy, and all around donor engagement, Engaging Networks will help you do it all.

Preparing for a Campaign

Nonprofits looking to launch successful fundraising and advocacy campaigns should prioritize planning and preparation. These efforts will ensure that campaigns are effective, reach the right audience, and hit fundraising goals.

Your marketing team can help to develop a campaign strategy, including identifying marketing channels, planning fundraising events, and creating marketing activities that align with your nonprofit organization’s overall mission and goals. To be impactful, fundraising and advocacy campaigns require careful consideration of the donor audience, a targeted message, and strong content ideas.

Take GivingTuesday, one of the most important cause awareness days for nonprofits. Be sure to plan well in advance so you can make the most of the year-end giving season. A successful GivingTuesday campaign requires a coordinated effort across various marketing channels, including email, social media, and even direct mail. You should develop a content calendar and messaging that communicates urgency and highlights the impact of donations. In addition, your marketing team should align with fundraising efforts by promoting events and other incentives that encourage donations.

Nonprofits should not underestimate the importance of content in their campaigns. All of your content — from short-form to long-form — should be engaging and accessible, while also highlighting the unique aspects of your nonprofit’s mission. Content ideas could include videos that feature the work the nonprofit does or stories of impact from donors, and these videos can be shared across social media. Nonprofits should also consider partnering with influencers or other organizations to broaden their reach.

The last big preparation tip is to set milestones for campaign progress at various stages to ensure that your efforts stay on track. With the milestones clearly laid out, you will be able to tell which adjustments can be made as needed. Prioritizing planning, preparation, and strong content will all ensure that your fundraising campaigns and advocacy campaigns make major waves.

How to Optimize Your Campaign

Now that you’ve done all the research and preparation, it’s time to launch your campaign! So, where to begin?

To get the best tricks and trips, we got the intel from our accredited partners, a network of independent agencies with deep experience and training on Engaging Networks and experts within the nonprofit and charity industry as a whole. Here’s what they recommend when it comes to optimizing fundraising campaigns and advocacy campaigns:

1. Measure success with marketing automations

You will know if your automated welcome series is successful if your supporters keep opening your emails. A high open-rate isn’t only a signal of popularity; it will tell email service providers (ESPs) that your organization is credible. Allegiance Group writes that “a strong email automation program can drive significant revenue for your organization.”

That’s why marketing automations are essential for nonprofits — simply put, they enable effective nonprofit marketing campaigns. With marketing automation, nonprofits can easily segment their target audience and create personalized messages that resonate with individual donors and volunteers. Email marketing is a powerful tool that allows nonprofits to reach their audience with a message that is tailored to their interests and behaviors.

Nonprofits can use marketing automation to schedule emails tailored to different segments of their audience, ensuring the right message is reaching the right people at the right time. Automated email campaigns can also be used to nurture relationships with donors and volunteers over time. With marketing automation, nonprofits can streamline their communication efforts, ensuring that their marketing message is consistent and impactful across all channels.

Marketing automations like automated welcome series emails have helped organizations like Ocean Conservancy boost their email engagement, thanks to using our marketing automation tools.

2. Educate your audience

Every organization has a rich history. Maybe a community came together under a united campaign or your founder had a profound experience that opened their eyes and encouraged them to fight for a cause. Over time, more people joined that cause, did some really great stuff, and built the advocacy powerhouse you are today.

Social media is a powerful tool for spreading your organization’s story far and wide. In today’s digital age, leveraging social media is an essential tool for nonprofits looking to make their current supporters and potential donors aware of their core narrative. Social media channels provide a cost-effective way to reach a wider audience and promote a compelling story.

Here’s what Cornershop Creative has to say:

“By interacting with the public and encouraging them to support your cause publicly, you can expand your reach exponentially! You already know how important your cause is, so the best thing you can do is hit those social media channels and let everyone else know.”

Your team can create and promote campaign videos that communicate your organization’s values, goals, and major accomplishments in the form of a compelling story. These videos can be shared on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, allowing followers to engage with the nonprofit’s message and learn more about the work they do. Social media can also be leveraged to promote virtual events that are related to your campaign. By creating a sense of urgency and excitement, nonprofits can encourage potential donors to support their cause.

By engaging with followers and sharing updates about the progress of their mission, nonprofits can create a sense of transparency and accountability that can help to build trust among current and potential donors. This can lead to increased engagement and ultimately, more donations.

3. Check the status of your website data

Google rolls out major update to their search ranking algorithm, and each update will impact your website’s SEO and milestones for fundraising and advocacy. The most recent update, for example, introduced a new set of metrics called Page Experience Signals that factors how Google ranks websites.

Don’t fret — your team can still determine whether your website is still ranking well on Google after new rollouts. While reviewing your website and current Google Analytics website data, look for the following cues:

  • The amount of time a visitor spends scrolling through a page
  • The loading speed of content: text, images, videos, etc.
  • The UX when interacting with buttons, links, form fields, etc.

Your answers to the above bullet points “will impact the ways your organization shows up across the Internet since Google is prioritizing websites that score high on their brand new scorecard,” says Samuel Tate from Rad Campaign.

4. Establish a data governance program

What is data governance and why do you need it? Only recently have nonprofit organizations started to recognize the value of data governance for things like analytics and data regulations (like GDPR).

From Emily Walsh, Director at BrightVine Solutions:

Although data governance has been making waves in the corporate world for many years, it’s only during the past several years that nonprofits have hopped on the data governance train, seeing both the potential value it brings to governing big data used for analytics while also providing controls for addressing new data challenges and regulations, like GDPR.

It is best practice for your data governance program to involve a collaboration between members of your executive team, your data management professionals, and IT staff, as well as any end users who understand the functional/business uses of data within your organization and can provide a valuable outside perspective.

As a whole, these team members will create a holistic set of standards, policies, and processes for governing your organization’s data. The result is that, with good data governance, you are guaranteed to have consistency across your organization and remain compliant with regulations.

5. Be accessible and inclusive

The importance of accessibility and inclusivity has grown significantly over the past decade. This is largely due to a growing recognition of the diversity of people and communities around the world, as well as an increasing awareness of how barriers to access can impact people’s lives.

For nonprofits, accessibility and inclusivity help engage with and serve diverse communities. By prioritizing these values in marketing efforts, nonprofits can ensure that their message reaches the widest possible audience.

Jen Frazier, President and Founder of Firefly Partners, elaborates on the reasons why accessibility and inclusivity in digital marketing matter:

Inclusive Digital Marketing means that all the content generated across any and all of your digital channels should be fully accessible, welcoming to all, and creating an enjoyable experience for any user that interacts with it.

So, with regards to your website, it should have thoughtful and intentional architecture. This list should include high contrast colors for those who are visually impaired and accessibility-minded back-end code so folks can easily navigate using a keyboard, screen readers, or other assistive technologies. And last but certainly not least, you should use inclusive and diverse imagery throughout your website.

6. Keep track of SMS texting changes

SMS texting lets nonprofits communicate with supporters and donors in real-time. Nonprofit campaigns and fundraising events can benefit greatly from SMS texting as it allows for instant updates and reminders. With SMS messaging, nonprofits have the ability to reach people directly on their mobile phones, making it easier to spread the message and raise awareness for their cause.

Thing is, SMS texting is liable to change because cell phone carriers enforce new rules. So how can you make your efforts effective? M+R recommends being aware of the “10 DLC” (short for the “10-digit long codes”) which are the phone numbers used to send texts.

To safeguard your fundraising and advocacy campaigns, keep these key points in mind:

  • Register your brand and 10-Digit Long Code (10 DLC) campaigns with The Campaign Registry
  • Focus on list hygiene
  • Understand carriers — they use a ranking system to determine limits and priority for text messaging

7. Turn your donors into fans

Of course every donation is important, but those from your “superfans” — supporters who are both donors and advocates — are typically higher in value and consistency. The best way to leverage the support of these superfans and thus tap into massive revenue potential is through advocacy-driven campaigns.

Retention is the best way to indicate the health and longevity of your organization. K2D Strategies recommends that tapping into stronger retention involves growing your understanding of the challenges that all of your supporters, not just superfans, face on a daily basis:

These days, most people feel like they have little control over anything — the economy, the pandemic, their jobs, the government, you name it. We are more divided and isolated than ever before. Don’t miss this opportunity to meet your donors’ needs by offering ways they can come together and help heal our troubled world beyond their financial support.

Through cultivating a better understanding of how to better relate to your donors and meet them where they’re at, you’re more likely to turn them into superfans and boost retention in the process.

8. Drive donations with a membership program

Membership programs let nonprofits engage with their supporters, build long-lasting relationships, and drive donations and advocacy. These programs offer exclusive benefits and opportunities to members, thereby creating a sense of belonging and community among supporters. Members also tend to be more invested in the mission of the organization, and are more likely to financially support and advocate for the nonprofit.

Per the Engage Group:

The idea of membership — based upon inclusion and the perceived sense of a deeper level of support — intrigues supporters and makes them want to jump at the opportunity. And this is not only perceived value: the organization should be offering true benefits of membership. Organizations can provide compelling things that supporters genuinely want, at a reasonable cost that keeps acquisition metrics in check.

Memberships can drive growth and evolve into a source of sustained revenue. Take some time to think about how this could fit into your organization, because it might fit surprisingly well. Check out how one of our clients, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, utilized a membership program in order to drive donations.

Ready to optimize your campaigns?

Connect with Engaging Networks and request a demo today, so you can see for yourself how we help organizations around the world engage with their audiences. We’ll also show how the fabulous accredited partners featured in this article — Cornershop Creative, BrightVine Solutions, Firefly Partners, and more — can help you improve your fundraising and advocacy campaigns like never before.

For more information on Engaging Networks Partners, contact Marcie Lenaghan, Director of Partnerships, at [email protected].

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