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Top Tips for Creating Successful Online Fundraising Campaigns

16 February 2016 at 9:49 am
Staff Reporter
Digital campaigns are a crucial component of fundraising and marketing plans, writes Dr Steve Francis, the Managing Director of FrontStream Asia Pacific, who offers his top tips on creating successful campaigns. The world of digital…

Staff Reporter | 16 February 2016 at 9:49 am


Top Tips for Creating Successful Online Fundraising Campaigns
16 February 2016 at 9:49 am

Digital campaigns are a crucial component of fundraising and marketing plans, writes Dr Steve Francis, the Managing Director of FrontStream Asia Pacific, who offers his top tips on creating successful campaigns.

The world of digital marketing can be daunting, particularly if you are just starting out. Digital campaigns are a crucial component of your fundraising and marketing plan, and getting them right can exponentially increase your fundraising revenue.

There are so many different channels and audiences to consider, so it’s best to look at what serves your mission best. Let’s look at types of campaigns and what you can expect to achieve from each one.

Whatever the type of campaign that you decide on, if it’s planned and delivered well, you can expect better results than in previous years where it was not planned well. As we are in the Not for Profit/fundraising sector, let’s focus on the type of campaigns that best support the many and varied missions of our charities.

First, choose the goal:

· One time donations
· Growth of long-term donor supporter base
· Overall brand engagement
· Market awareness and education

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Disaster Campaigns

A disaster campaign has a focussed mission, raising awareness of a disaster and the need to act. Organisations explain how they are assisting and how the community needs to donate in order to make a difference. Disaster campaigns are challenging, as they need to be activated instantly and without much notice. Think about the 2009 Bushfires, the Haiti earthquake of 2010 or the Japanese Tsunami of 2011. The news channels advocated the gravity of each disaster while larger international charities activated a quick response.

Disaster campaigns ask for an immediate compassionate donation and occasionally volunteers. It is less about brand awareness or ongoing supporter recruitment and more focussed on engagement and dollars.

In recent years we have revisited a different type of disaster campaign, one provoked by civil war and unrest in the Middle East leading to humanitarian emergencies such the Syrian refugee crisis. Many charities have activated ongoing disaster campaigns in an effort to support the millions of displaced people in camps and in uncertain transit. While still a disaster campaign, the ongoing nature of the crisis changes the campaign. In this case, need and urgency must continue to be communicated in order to encourage continued donations.

Fixed calendar event fundraising campaigns

Many charities launch big fundraising campaigns in the lead up to the end of the financial year and Christmas. These have always proven to be peak engagement periods for fundraising. While traditionally, these campaigns ask for one-off donations, they are also an opportune time to introduce preferred support such as regular donations and workplace giving both result in increased long term supporters.

Either way fixed calendar campaigns can be organised in advance and over a set period of time with a final dollar goal attached to it. Other fixed calendar campaigns vary between organisations, some traditional examples are winter appeals for homeless support charities or children’s hospital Easter fundraising appeals.

Awareness Campaigns

In charitable organisations it’s also important to deliver brand awareness or community service campaigns. These campaigns can praise the impact of your collective work and validate the integrity of your organisation.

Awareness campaigns can also serve as advocacy and behaviour change campaigns. For example, Cancer Council Australia will remind the community to stop smoking and wear sunscreen and a hat to prevent cancer, the RSPCA will remind people to be kind to animals and consider adopting a pet from a shelter instead of a breeder, and White Ribbon asks men and boys to stand up against violence against women.

Of course each awareness campaign will ask for donations to support the awareness and behaviour change, but the message leads with education and community service. Awareness campaigns offer clarity about your mission as well as directly working to achieve your mission.

Now we have identified different types of campaigns relevant to our sector we can look at universal guidelines on what constitutes a good campaign.

When planning a campaign it’s important to perfect the following elements: copy, creative, call to action, and campaign plan.


The copy needs to be written in an active voice in order to engage a personal response from the audience. The active voice uses language that is direct and clear. The job of the copy is to create a sense of urgency to achieve the campaign goal.

Online campaigns usually benefit from copy written in a conversational tone with fewer words. If more context is required use storytelling case studies to show the impact of your work. People respond to proven results, so make your impact known.


Once the copy is created don’t let people scroll before they realise what you need, make it clear right from the start.

All campaigns need to stay on brand, so stick to the style guide with colour, font, imagery and a clear header. Make sure your campaign is web, mobile and tablet formatted. Once people donate or engage in the campaign ask, consider creating a leaderboard on the campaign home page, or a shout out section to thank the audience for the gift.

Call to Action

Make it clear that you need donations to make a difference to the lives of young people, refugees, animals, women or whoever your campaign will benefit. Open and close the body copy with your simple and direct call to action.

Show the benefit of participating in the campaign and if the audience keeps clicking to the end don’t forget to say thank you, keep the good feeling going through gratitude, it works!

Campaign plan

What platforms will you use? How long will it run? And most importantly how will you measure success. A combination of platforms is generally a good idea for broad reach campaigns – so Facebook and other social media, website, eDM, digital partnerships and sponsored articles all work well together.

If you have the budget to invest, you can also consider traditional mediums too like TV, print and radio, however these are generally reserved for big calendar campaigns. Measure the results, not only in dollars, but also through engagement and digital analytics. These details will inform future campaigns.

Campaigns methods are ever evolving so remember to try new things but keep what works. Keep testing different elements in a campaign to discover what is successful for you.

For more information check out the FrontStream Asia Pacific website. Contact 1300 330 118 or +61 (0)3 8379 0700, or email

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