For the fundraiser to gain traction you will need to plug into your networks as word of mouth and digital platforms are your best bet on gaining followership.
This second series follows the first article Fundraising 101: All You Need To Know About Fundraising which gives you pointers to consider when deciding to fundraise. In this article, we’ll go through steps to guide you while developing a persuasive fundraising campaign including how to develop a fundraising problem and outlining your fundraiser’s look and feel.
Define your fundraising problem
The best way to describe your fundraising initiative is through a story. Telling a story will help develop an emotional connection between the potential donor (the person contributing financially) and the beneficiary (you), encouraging more donations. When telling your story, ensure you use simple and effective language while being honest about your situation. Using subheadings and bullet points will make it easier for people to read, understand and absorb the information. It will take courage to share your most sensitive moments, but honesty and vulnerability will make donors form a connection with your fundraiser.
Wondering how to begin writing your fundraising story? Here’s a guideline to help you develop it
1. Introduce yourself and the ‘main characters’ of your story i.e. the fundraiser, be honest and direct and share with potential donors the most relevant information first. Describe the role you play in the context of the fundraiser.
2. Identify what details of your journey you are willing to share, are supporting photos and videos in existence, or will you need to develop them? This is where you provide more basic details addressing questions readers might have around the who, what, where, when, why, and how. Ensure you get the consent of each person appearing in the photos or videos before publishing any content. Not doing so is a breach of their right to privacy and could potentially place them in an unwanted or unsafe position depending on the type/context of the content.
a. What will the funds be used for? When answering this question, think about the emotional transition you and/or your community will experience once you’ve achieved your fundraising goal. E.g. The funds raised will be used to brighten the smiles of toddlers after their cleft palate surgeries. Highlight your strategy to ensure you are accountable to donors such as providing consistent updates and having a secondary person to keep track of the contributions.
b. How are you connected to the cause?
c. How will the donations raised aid you or help others? If they will be used for a business, highlight the impact/goals and sustainability of your project.
d. Why does the recipient need this donation?
3. Provide readers with context to the effect this problem has had on you and your fundraiser’s target and peripheral audience. Being as specific and transparent as possible, describe challenges you have experienced in raising funds in the past, and how it has impacted you and other entities involved. Ensure you provide precise information about the problem and using hopeful language, encourage donors to be emotionally involved to inspire continuous donation.
4. In one or two sentences highlight the turning point of the story. Answer the question, ‘why did you decide to begin this fundraising campaign?
5. After drafting your fundraising story, review it to ensure all the details are provided and dots of your journey are sequentially connected. Put yourself in readers’ shoes to gauge the tone and flow of the story, ensure you engage your audience by keeping them curious and increase their interest encouraging them to continue reading through.
6. Finally, don’t forget to come up with a captivating and shareable title for your fundraiser, the title should give a clear and convincing glimpse to your fundraising campaign. The title should be written at the end of the writing process so that it summarises your fundraiser while also mentioning the beneficiary (main character of the story) and highlighting the major problem being faced.
Get inspiration to write successful fundraising stories by reading other successful fundraisers, and as you review their stories think about the following questions:
- How do these stories work to create understanding and empathy?
- What can you learn from their approaches to storytelling?
- For each story, are there any specific aspects that made you feel strongly?
- What emotions do you want your own story to convey?
Once you have drafted your story, share it with trusted members (friends and family) within your network including our Opportunities Director, their feedback can be helpful in improving your campaign. To guide their feedback, ask questions like:
- Are there any moments where it feels awkward or there isn’t enough information?
- Which parts inspire readers to care enough to make a donation?
- Would you personally be inspired to share this story?
Design the look and feel of your fundraiser
Once you have thought about and developed your fundraising story, you will need to ensure that the words and photos used during your fundraiser become easy to recognize among donors. Similar to how brands need to become familiar to their customers, we want donors to be prompted to donate and share your fundraiser as they are so familiar with your brand when they see a word or photo. For example, when you see an athleticwear shoe with a tick on it, you automatically relate it to the Nike brand; the goal is to transfer this recognition pattern to your fundraiser. To achieve this level of recognition Nike had to come up with a ‘look’ and ‘feel’ that was aligned to their values and with continuous engagement customers learnt to directly relate the tick icon to the brand.
Your fundraising activity will guide the development of recognisable words and images that will be used when creating graphics and social media hashtags. These keywords and visuals will be used to inspire the look and feel of the fundraiser highlighted in your graphics, hashtags, branding and other visuals supporting the fundraising problem. This will include developing an engaging fundraising landing page that will be the first image donors see when they land on your online platform.
Determining the desirable keywords you can use depend on the type of fundraiser, the mission and type of donor being targeted. Coming up with keywords also means you have to tread the fine line between being broad enough to attract a wide audience but also narrowing down to appeal to audiences who are likely to convert. Examples of keywords used during the fundraiser would be, the first and last name of the individual(s) receiving the funds, the specific cause being fundraised, and the name of the activity/issue being targeted for fundraising. You can get more inspiration for appropriate keywords by doing a Google search for fundraisers within your target scope.
To support your story, add photos and videos that will help strengthen your fundraising request. Ideally these should be:
- Eye catching high resolution photos and videos with good lighting and clear subjects.
- They should be consistent, ensuring that the main subject of the fundraiser appears in most if not all the photos.
- When possible use a how-to video to explain the problem and how funding will help to solve it.
- Create accessible graphics, photos and videos for different audiences e.g. those using screen readers, captions or translation softwares. (Remember to fill the consent forms for persons appearing in the photos/videos as advised above Define your fundraising problem no. 2)
Define your fundraising goal
To come up with your goal, calculate the amount of money you will need to raise at the end of the campaign. This will require you to include the costs you will incur during the fundraising process, including a detailed budget highlighting how you plan to use the funds. Providing a detailed budget might not be plausible for personal fundraising, so share as much information as you are comfortable including. Potential donors want to know how much you are aiming to reach and how they can create an impact in helping you attain your goal. For example, if you are fundraising to cater for a medical expense include the cost of the procedure, hospital stay, medication and other costs to cater for the patient and their caregiver. Don't forget to include running costs such as taxes, transaction fees etc.
The figure you indicate at the launch of your fundraiser isn’t necessarily set in stone, if your financial needs grow you can increase your fundraising goal. If you do increase the goal, ensure you update donors and share a detailed cost breakdown for potential donors to see where their money will go.
Online fundraising platform
While QAN has a fundraising platform, we want you to explore the best option that works for you. Now that you have developed your fundraising story and your graphics, you need to decide where you would like to host your fundraiser. To make this decision consider the following:
- Is the platform easy to use?
- Does the platform charge favourable transaction fees?
- Are there several accommodating payment method options?
- Does the platform have accessible customer support?
- Does the platform offer security for your funds? Are they credible and transparent places to host fundraising?
- Do your audience have prior experience for a certain platform?
- Would your audience be willing to use it again?
- Will your audience need certain software or devices to access the platform?
- Does the platform allow for integration to other platforms including social media and website plugins?
These adaptations will make it easier for you to reach a wider audience increasing your prospective pool of donors. Leveraging your social media presence will help you to build a community who will help to increase the number of people who read and share your story.
Tips to consider before rolling out the fundraiser
1. Plan well in advance
Depending on your targeted donor base you may need to plan a year in advance, especially if you need to submit applications for various donors during their donor cycles. In a situation where you are fundraising to cater for an emergency, it is easier to adapt a successful fundraiser to provide you with the highest chance of success.
2. Target audience
Similar to identifying a target audience for a business, fundraisers need to identify their ‘ideal customer’, a persona who can be identified by their behaviour, demographics, goals, desires, interests, attitudes, opinions, lifestyles, and content preferences. Identifying your target audience will help you to decide where to invest your marketing efforts.
3. Develop a support network
Reach out to your community of networks to help you with various tasks based on their skills and experience e.g. proposal development and graphic design. Additionally, involve your community to help you grow the impact of your fundraiser helping you to roll out fundraising activities outside of monetary help.
4. Fundraiser resources
Ensure you do some research to identify which resources are available for your type of fundraiser, don’t hesitate to adopt ideas from other successful fundraisers similar to yours. Some helpful resources for your fundraiser could include templates, how-to guides, worksheets, and checklists—to take your organisation to the next level in fundraising, management, marketing and other areas.
If you have any questions or concerns about the QAN Fundraising series and the QAN Fundraising platform please reach out to us at [email protected]. You can also join the Fundraising group to engage and learn with other fundraisers.
Joshi, U. (n.d.). Quick tips to boost your fundraising efforts. fundsforNGOs. https://www2.fundsforngos.org/featured/quick-tips-boost-fundraising-efforts/.
Armas, B. (2022, August 9). How to Write Your GoFundMe Fundraiser Story: 12 Helpful Tips. GoFundMe. https://www.gofundme.com/c/blog/how-to-raise-money.
Armas, B. (2022, August 10). A Quick and Easy Guide for How to Raise Money Online. GoFundMe. https://www.gofundme.com/c/blog/how-to-raise-money.