Face it: Fundraisers have become finicky. They don’t want to do your event anymore. They don’t want to fundraise at the time of year you’re running your capital campaign. Of course, they still want to help your cause, but now they want to do it on their own terms. The answer to this problem is to give them the tools to creatively fundraise for your organization through a vehicle like Personal Campaigns. And causes that haven’t addressed ways that their supporters can easily create their own third-party events already are finding themselves at a disadvantage.
Fundraising: Now it’s personal.
Personal Campaigns are events that your supporters set up themselves in your online fundraising software. They choose the reason, they promote their campaign and they do all the fundraising. Once set up and your supporters know they can do them, your main responsibility is saying “thanks.” It’s a new revenue stream, but with a minimal amount of work involved. If your software accommodates these individual campaigns, your supporters can get creative with what they can turn into a fundraiser for your cause.
Fundraise around anything.
The list of Personal Campaigns that supporters have created is endless and includes everything from climbing Mt Kilimanjaro ($51,000 raised) to running across the Brooklyn bridge in stiletto heels ($11,000 raised). Some of the more popular personal campaigns ideas are:
- Life events, like birthdays and weddings in place of gifts
- Memorials for family who have passed
- Commercial endurance events (like the NYC Marathon)
- Dinner parties for friends
- Company events at work
- Virtual bake sales that run along side physical bake sales
Who are these people?
Typically, those who create their own Personal Campaigns are a mix of existing supporters who want to do more and people who want to support your organization that see Personal Campaigns as the opportunity they’ve been waiting for. Usually you’ll find Millennial supporters among this group. According to Zac Johnson, Head of Youth Marketing at Children’s Miracle Network, the commitment of the Millennial supporter is deep: “They need ownership of what they’re doing. They need to know what they’ve put into it and what they got back in return.”
Fundraising Consultant Mike Malekoff sees that Personal Campaigns appeal to Gen X as well as Gen Y: “A lot of younger people are very community conscious or have been brought up volunteering. Many have grown up having a very good lifestyle and want to give back. Also people get married later or get married multiple times. They’re older, they have good jobs and they’re set in life. Rather than people giving them a toaster or blender, they’d rather have their friends and family make a donation to their favorite cause.” This attitude toward giving your own way seems to be rising up through the generations and is quickly becoming a norm for all supporters.”
Setting up Personal Campaigns.
If your online fundraising software accommodates personal campaigns, the physical setup can sometimes be as easy as turning on an event type. The organizations having the best success are those that make their Personal Campaigns site self explanatory. Geraldine Carter, Client Services Representative with DonorDrive and a founder of Climate Ride feels that Personal Campaigns are most effective when you set them up to run themselves: “If you take more time to set them up and do them right, then you won’t have to be addressing one-off questions all the time. You’ll grow a new batch of donors, participants and eventually staunch supporters.”
Get the word out.
The biggest job when it comes to Personal Campaigns is to let your supporters know they’re available to them. Here are a few ways you can promote the program:
- Send an email blast to your supporter base letting them know what Personal Campaigns are and how they can use them to turn their passion for your cause into awareness and donations. Make sure you give them a variety of examples. That way you’re more likely to hit on an idea that resonates with them personally.
- Start a conversation about Personal Campaigns on your organization blog, Facebook page, or on Twitter. Ask for suggestions for creative ideas for Personal Campaigns. It may lead to some great suggestions that supporters want to try and will help raise awareness of all that Personal Campaigns can be used for.
- Publicly congratulate your most successful personal campaigners. Bringing attention to the successes is the best way to show how personal campaigns work and to encourage others to participate.
- Clue in the local media on this “new” fundraising idea. It’s great material for TV morning shows. Once they’ve done a story on your Personal Campaigns, suggest that the reporter or a personality at the station try their own. They already have a large base of viewers who can donate.
Many established nonprofits say they’re concerned that the smorgasbord of causes on crowdfunding sites are eroding their supporter base. Personal Campaigns are an excellent way to combat this, since they appeal to the supporter who likes the idea of doing their own fundraiser, but restrict the beneficiary to only your cause. Your own Personal Campaigns program gives you complete control over branding, dollars and data, while giving your supporters a new way to support your organization.
Kevin Wolfe is Social Instigator at DonorDrive and editor of the DonorDriven Blog.