To achieve your nonprofit’s ambitious goals and deepen its impact, you need consistent sources of funding. Fundraising campaigns play a crucial role in generating the necessary resources and support to power your mission. With a well-designed fundraising campaign, your nonprofit can engage potential donors, inspire giving at a large scale, and encourage supporters to play a bigger role in your organization’s success.
Best of all, the sky’s the limit when it comes to designing winning fundraising campaigns! From peer-to-peer and online fundraising to awareness campaigns, there are a variety of fundraising ideas you can customize and combine to meet your nonprofit’s specific needs. Hold a fundraising campaign of any type, at any time of the year, to supplement your annual income and bolster your donor relationships.
In this guide, we’ll go over everything your nonprofit needs to know to plan and execute a successful fundraising campaign. We’ll cover:
Before we dive into the different types of fundraising campaigns and strategies for success, let’s make sure you’ve mastered the basics. These common FAQs will help you understand what a fundraising campaign is and how it functions as part of your larger fundraising strategy.
A fundraising campaign is a strategic effort to raise funds within a defined period of time. These funds can be used for a specific initiative or purpose, like building a new facility, or generally applied to your nonprofit’s day-to-day expenses. Campaigns can also be designed with other objectives in mind beyond raising a certain dollar amount, such as:
The type of campaign you choose to lead will depend on your objectives and what makes the most sense for your nonprofit’s current state and audience. Regardless of the fundraising campaign you decide to host, you’ll need to lay out a clear plan that covers:
With ample planning, you can build a custom fundraising campaign that will inspire supporters, amplify your cause, and build momentum for your mission.
Looking to dive right into fundraising campaign best practices? Navigate to our top strategies for success!
Holding fundraising campaigns throughout the year can bring a number of benefits to nonprofits, including:
A fundraising campaign also gives you the opportunity to rally your team around your nonprofit’s guiding principles and plan activities that will put your mission into action. By working together to lead a winning campaign, your team of volunteers and staff will feel more invested in your organization and eager to see your goals through.
Your nonprofit can host a fundraising campaign at any point in the year depending on your specific needs and goals. However, many nonprofits will plan fundraising campaigns around certain occasions, such as:
While grounding your campaign in a certain time of the year can help capitalize on increased public awareness and willingness to give, your nonprofit doesn’t always need a special occasion to lead a successful fundraiser! With the right amount of planning and a compelling case for support, you can bring attention to any fundraising campaign and inspire your community to push your goals forward.
Now that you know the ins and outs of fundraising campaigns, it’s time to consider the different types of fundraising campaigns you can add to your fundraising calendar. There are a variety of fundraisers you can lead to take your mission to the next level, including:
Annual giving campaigns are fundraising initiatives designed to establish a predictable flow of unrestricted revenue to cover your nonprofit’s yearly expenses. From powering your day-to-day costs to funding new technology and infrastructure investments, annual giving campaigns are necessary to keep your nonprofit afloat. These campaigns are hosted regularly throughout the year and can take many different shapes and forms.
Annual campaigns are also a great opportunity to engage closely with existing donors. With a strong donor stewardship strategy, you can successfully move donors up the donor pyramid to higher-impact gifts with each new annual campaign. In preparation for your annual campaigns, be sure to send personalized donation requests based on donors’ motivators and past giving behavior and explain how their increased generosity will fuel your mission.
An online fundraising campaign takes the entire donation process online, making the giving process more convenient for your nonprofit and its supporters. This modern approach to raising funds can help your organization reach donors from all over the world and maximize giving. To get the word out about your online campaign, optimize your online donation page, lead a robust multichannel marketing strategy, and attach exciting online events and challenges to your campaign!
For example, you might host a high-energy virtual auction, lead a virtual fitness challenge, or punctuate your event with a virtual gala. The options are endless! To streamline your online campaign planning, work with tools like a comprehensive fundraising platform and CRM.
A hybrid fundraising campaign combines the best of both worlds of in-person and online fundraising.
With careful coordination and an engaging program lineup, you can successfully connect with two audiences at once and turn casual donors into avid supporters of your cause. Best of all, hybrid fundraising campaigns are inherently flexible and can be adapted to fit your goals and budget.
For example, if your hybrid fundraising budget is limited, you might keep your in-person component more intimate to save funds. Consider inviting only your VIP supporters (major donors, ticketed guests, board members, etc.) to an in-person auction, gala, or other lively event, then livestream the experience to remote supporters so they can get in on the action from anywhere in the world.
Awareness campaigns are designed to raise awareness around an issue, bring more exposure to your cause, and grow your supporter network. While raising funds is an important part of any fundraising campaign, this type of campaign focuses more on attracting public interest and immersing prospective donors and volunteers into your mission. To gather as much public attention as possible, many nonprofits will host awareness campaigns around national awareness months that relate to their mission.
For example, breast cancer nonprofits commonly host awareness campaigns during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. However, you can launch an awareness campaign at any time when you want to grow your audience! Leverage social media, viral challenges, and multichannel marketing to attract people to your campaign and expand your support base.
Peer-to-peer fundraising hands the reins over to your supporters. Through this powerful type of fundraising, your supporters will create their own fundraising pages, set individual goals, and market their campaigns widely among their personal networks. With over 23% of U.S. adults identifying as social donors in 2023, peer-to-peer fundraising stands out as one of the best ways to immerse supporters deeper into your mission!
By empowering your loyal supporters to take charge of the fundraising process, your nonprofit will expand its reach, bring in more revenue, and develop stronger relationships with your peer-to-peer volunteers.
If you’re looking to take your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign a step further, you might also lead an ambassador campaign. An ambassador campaign taps your most well-connected and influential supporters to fundraise leading up to a big event, like an auction, gala, or golf outing. Look for ambassadors among your board members, volunteers, sponsor connections and networks, and event committee members.
Conducted solely over text messaging, a text-to-give campaign is convenient, user-friendly, and widely accessible to all of your supporters, even if they’re miles away! Your donors will simply text a keyword to your designated short- or long-code, automatically opting them into your text messaging campaign where they’ll receive a link to your mobile-friendly donation page.
Run a text-to-give campaign at any time of the year to support your annual fund, or tie your campaign to a specific fundraising initiative. To launch your text-to-give campaign, look for a dedicated text-to-give solution with these key capabilities:
The right text-to-give service will make it easy to lead any fundraising campaign and connect with supporters near and far.
Capital campaigns help raise significant funds for high-cost strategic initiatives, such as building a new facility or purchasing new equipment. These campaigns are intense undertakings that require more planning than the average fundraising campaign and can take multiple years. A capital campaign consists of the following key stages:
While your nonprofit might be tempted to dive right into capital campaign fundraising, it’s important to take plenty of time to assess whether your proposed campaign makes sense for your organization and aligns with your priorities and values.
Crowdfunding campaigns are designed to raise funds from a large pool of donors. Typically, nonprofits will leverage dedicated crowdfunding sites to host their campaign. Then, supporters can visit the campaign landing page, see your fundraising goal, and give any amount to accelerate your progress—though most donors will give small or mid-sized donations.
Crowdfunding is an easy way to raise funds fast, spread awareness about an issue, and grow your donor base. However, your nonprofit will need a strong marketing plan to promote your campaign landing page. Unlike peer-to-peer fundraising where your supporters will market their own campaign pages, your organization’s team will need to take charge of getting the word out about your crowdfunding campaign.
Matching gift campaigns rely on corporate sponsors to match donors’ contributions at a 1:1, 2:1, and even 3:1 ratio. Establish a set matching gift period and ask a company to match all donations made to your campaign during this time with a compelling corporate sponsorship letter. By setting a defined period of time to get donations matched, you can successfully instill urgency in your supporters to give and encourage donors to increase their giving amounts to maximize impact.
Matching gifts from eligible donors can also be used to supplement your annual fund year-round. With over 26 million individuals working for companies with matching gift programs, it’s more than likely that many of your supporters work at businesses that will match their gifts. Educate your supporters about matching gift opportunities and encourage them to check their eligibility.
A year-end fundraising campaign is a strategic effort to end the year on a high note and meet (or surpass!) your annual fundraising goal. Year-end giving capitalizes on supporters’ giving spirit around the holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as one of the biggest fundraising days of the year: Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and collectively brings in billions of dollars for nonprofits all over the world each year.
If your nonprofit is planning to run a Giving Tuesday campaign, you need a solid strategy to stand out from the crowd and attract as much support as possible. Leverage this global day of generosity by creating a strong campaign landing page, marketing your campaign weeks to months in advance, and incorporating gamification to fuel giving.
Now that you have a better idea of what type of fundraising campaigns your organization can run, it’s time to hone your fundraising campaign strategy. Use these tried and true best practices to take any fundraising campaign to the next level.
The first step to planning a fundraising campaign is to set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals. This goal setting framework will help you set reasonable objectives, foster accountability across your team, and mobilize your nonprofit to turn aspirations into action.
For example, let’s say your organization is planning to host a year-end peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. When setting goals for your peer-to-peer campaign, consider the following questions:
Answering these questions will help inform your goals so you can set objectives that are as detailed as possible.
Is your nonprofit leading an awareness campaign and hoping to reach new supporters? Or, perhaps you’re leading an annual giving campaign that targets major donors to upgrade their giving amounts?
Your fundraising campaign might target various audiences, or you might have one particular audience in mind. By identifying who your organization wants to reach, you can tailor your communications, marketing messages, and campaign activities to them. This way, your donation requests will be more likely to resonate with your supporters and inspire them to give.
Identify the following audience traits:
For example, if you’re an animal welfare organization hosting an awareness campaign to bring attention to overpopulation in local animal shelters, you might target pet owners and animal lovers in the area who haven’t yet engaged with your nonprofit.
If you’re still not sure who your target audience should be, take a deep dive into your past fundraising campaigns and assess which supporters previously volunteered or donated. Using your CRM, you can pinpoint where your donor segments overlap and use this intersection to learn more about your audience demographics. This is helpful if you want to host a general fundraising campaign aimed at raising as much as possible from all donor types.
Behind every strong fundraising campaign is a strong team of board members, staff, and volunteers! Your campaign will have many moving parts, so it’s important that you have point people to handle tasks like:
Finalize your fundraising plan with your team and ensure everyone knows their role in contributing to your campaign’s success. Consider hosting regular check-ins to unblock any issues your team members might be experiencing and ensure your plans are on track.
To reach supporters with your campaign, you need to develop compelling messaging that explains the purpose behind your campaign and how the funds raised will advance your mission. Think of it this way: your fundraising campaign messaging is like the book cover of an incredible story. If your book cover isn’t up to par, readers won’t be tempted to dive into your story!
To make sure your messaging resonates with current and prospective supporters, use these best practices:
If your campaign is targeting multiple types of donors, you’ll need to adjust your messaging based on who you’re trying to reach. For example, if you’re hosting a capital campaign, your messaging for your major donors during the quiet phase will differ from your messaging for the general public during the public phase. By segmenting these different donor groups in your CRM, you can tailor your messages to specific subsets of your audience.
Your nonprofit needs the right technology to reliably plan and host any fundraising campaign, from peer-to-peer to hybrid annual campaigns. Rather than trying to piecemeal together disparate solutions, leverage an all-in-one fundraising platform that can handle every step of your fundraising campaign. Look for a platform with the following key features:
Your nonprofit already has its hands full when it comes to leading a successful fundraising campaign, and you don’t want to worry about technical issues when it comes time to launch your campaign. Do your research to find a high-quality software solution that will meet your nonprofit’s specific needs.
Once your nonprofit has wrapped up campaign plans, you’re ready to take your fundraiser live! Consolidate all of the key information about your fundraising campaign into a visually appealing microsite. This site will serve as a central hub for everything supporters need to know about your fundraiser, from its purpose to how to get involved.
To create a well-designed campaign microsite, use these best practices:
Before you share your campaign microsite with the public, you might choose to soft launch your campaign and get feedback from your dedicated VIP supporters first. This way, you can work out any technical errors in advance and hone your fundraising campaign messaging. Plus, reaching out to trusted supporters in advance can help create early momentum for your campaign, giving you a head start on your fundraising goal.
To generate excitement about your fundraising campaign and mobilize supporters to give, you need a strong marketing plan. The best way to reach your audience is by leveraging a multichannel marketing strategy. By generating engaging content across several different channels, you’ll be able to establish multiple touchpoints with donors and expand your reach.
Promote your fundraising campaign on the following channels:
Market your campaign several weeks to months in advance of your campaign so you can effectively build hype for your fundraiser and involve as many donors as possible in your fundraising efforts.
What better way to rally your community around your fundraising campaign goals than with a high-energy event? An event is the perfect opportunity to connect with your supporters on a more intimate level, generate extra excitement over your fundraising campaign, and boost your revenue!
In-person giving and events are back on the rise, with 78% of donors saying their last social giving experience took place in person. However, you have plenty of options to engage closely with your supporters and adapt a traditional in-person event to your needs, such as by making your event hybrid.
Whether you host your event in-person, online, or as a hybrid, an engaging event has the potential to skyrocket your fundraising results and deepen your supporter relationships. There are plenty of ways to naturally couple your fundraising campaign with an event. For example, some popular pairings include:
Bring your campaign full-circle and end it on a high note with an unforgettable event. Your donors will appreciate this opportunity to meet with their peers and play a fulfilling role in your mission, and your nonprofit will benefit from added support to cross the fundraising finish line.
Throughout your fundraising campaign, you should be actively tracking your KPIs with the help of your fundraising platform and assessing whether you’re on target to hit your goals. This way, if you’re behind on reaching certain benchmarks, you can adjust your strategies as needed and strengthen your campaign overall.
Once your campaign is over, take time to reflect on your performance and determine your areas of improvement. If you didn’t hit your fundraising goal, think through how you can optimize your fundraising plan in the future for greater success. Alternatively, if you did hit your fundraising goal, determine ways you can raise even more funds and elevate your donor engagement in the future.
You can also offer opportunities for feedback from your supporters. For instance, you might send out a survey to all of your donors, asking them about their experience in donating or participating in your fundraising campaign and what could’ve been done differently. This invaluable feedback can help you restructure your fundraising campaign approach to deliver more powerful results the next time.
The next critical step in wrapping up your campaign is donor recognition. After all, this campaign wouldn’t be possible without the support of your loyal community! Donor appreciation helps your supporters feel valued by your organization and connected to your mission, increasing the likelihood that they’ll want to give to your nonprofit again.
To express your appreciation to donors, use these top strategies:
You’ll also need to express appreciation to your team of volunteers and staff! Consider spotlighting them on your social media or hosting a private event that recognizes the important role they played in bringing your campaign to life.
Successful fundraising campaigns need powerful fundraising technology! The OneCause Fundraising Platform makes fundraising for your organization a smooth process, supporting you through every step of your campaign. Take a look at this versatile all-in-one fundraising software that meets the expectations of today’s donors, empowering you to lead any campaign, in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
Fundraising shouldn’t be a chore! With the right strategies and fundraising solution, you can seamlessly plan any fundraising campaign and set your nonprofit up for success. Use these essential strategies to elevate your fundraising approach, strengthen relationships with supporters, and take your mission one step further.
Eager to learn more about designing a winning fundraising campaign? Explore these additional resources: