When conducting an online fundraiser, your campaign description is the best opportunity to capture your audience. It's your one chance to wow them with your "why" and might be the most important piece of running an effective campaign. With that being said, here our Top 5 Tips to writing a killer campaign description:
Whether you’re an individual looking to raise money for a cause, or a non-profit searching for charitable donations, online fundraising is a growing and critical medium in philanthropy. In fact, online giving grew by 23% in 2017 the past year, compared to 15% the previous year, according to a study performed by online marketing firm M+R Benchmarks. As with most things, the web’s impact on the industry is here to stay and only going to have more of an impact in the future.
For those stuck in the traditional donation collection method of direct mail or cold calls, the biggest question could be, “where to start?” After finding a provider to host, one of the most important steps is to write an effective campaign description. The campaign description is front and center on your fundraiser website and is your best chance to capture the attention, and a donation from, the traffic that visits your website.
But what makes an effective campaign description? The team at Pledge It put its heads together and came up with tips based on their industry experience, after seeing what works— and what doesn’t— through its 20 years of combined experience in the industry.
Tell Your Story
If you want someone to donate their own, hard-earned money, you need to paint a picture as to why they should do so. This is what we refer to as: Share your why. Why is this cause so important to you? Who or what will it benefit? And how does running, or scoring points, or eating doughnuts (yep, we you can set your Pledge It campaign up with any statistic) tie into the cause?
As American Ninja Warrior— the Ninja for Dogs— Roo Yuri said, “Be very clear on what you’re doing. Be very concise, narrow it down to the essence of why they should support you. I know the reason I want to do this is there are dogs across the country sitting in kennels. I know if I can show that it will be more engaging.” Yuri’s own advice has led to nearly ten thousand dollars for his dog rescue, Wallace the Pit Bull Foundation.
Tell It Visually
Writing a compelling story is a great step. But telling it visually is better. Be sure to include plenty of photos in your campaign description. Pictures of the person or people that your campaign will benefit will help illustrate the impact your campaign is having.
An even more effective strategy is to include a video. You can tell a story via video that you just can’t quite replicate with the written word and photos. In fact, according to the content marketing agency IMPACT, “We retain 95% of a message when it’s in a video vs. only 10% when we read it in text form.”
High school seniors Michael Phillippe and Hyde Healy took this to heart in their campaigns. They have raised over $10,000 to honor the memory of a former captain of their high school lacrosse team that they never met. But by talking to former teammates of his, they felt like they did know him. They then recreated that experience with a video to show potential donors.
“We decided it would be pretty moving if we could interview some of the people that he had an impact on. So the people that were donating got to know who he was in the same way that we got to know who he was,” Phillipe explained. "We made that video and posted it. That video was kind of the centerpiece as far as how we circulated our campaign.”
By showing friends, teammates, and classmates, they gave pledgers a chance to know Graham in a way that a written description couldn’t. Not only did they more effectively tell a powerful story, video content is 12 times more likely to be shared than just plain text and images, meaning their story was shared way more than it would have been via text, and thus drew more attention to their campaigns.
Impact: Tell People Why this Cause Matters
Part of your "why" should include the "how." How will the money pledged benefit your cause? What does the charity or non-profit organization use this money for? It’s not enough to say the money will go to St. Jude, for example. Make it specific. “Here’s how your contribution will support children and families fighting childhood cancer: $50 can help St. Jude provide necessities for parents who hurriedly left home after their child’s diagnosis.”
"If you can't communicate why this cause or organization is important to you, you can't expect others to make it important enough to them to give,” explained Pledge It Director of Business Development Todd Smith. “The cause matters to you. Tell your audience why it should matter to them.”
Make the Ask— And Say Thank You!
These aspects seem obvious, but when you are telling the story, make sure to ask for donations. Consider placing it early in your campaign description. Check out the ask in Cardinal Mooney's Sticks for Soldiers campaign:
“We are asking fans and community members to pledge a donation for our total points (Goals + Assists + Ground Balls) during the two games March 22nd and 23rd. In addition, a simple flat contribution is also welcome. Click the “pledge now” button to make your contribution.”
Clear, concise, and with a call to action. You may also want to consider linking the CTA (pledgeit.org/yourcampaign/contribute) in your campaign description, even though there’s a prominent “Pledge Now” button on the right-hand side of every Pledge It campaign page.
And again, say thank you and express your appreciation. Remember, people are donating their personal money to your cause.
Bonus Tip: Making the ask can and should include a share to social media, and contacting your community of potential donors via email and text. Social shares have proven to be worth as much as $34 each, and direct email contact has proven to be three times more effective than social.
Let Your Supporters Follow your Campaign's Progress
With the performance-based nature of a Pledge It campaign, there’s a built in incentive to give that you’ll want to capitalize on. This isn’t a Salvation Army “put the money in the bucket and walk away” fundraising strategy.
Pledgers are given the opportunity to see the success of their donation for every base hit, every point scored, or every mile biked. Better yet, Pledge it sends email notifications to donors at 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% progress points, so we take care of that part of the work for you.
But you can also take this aspect to the next level with some custom updates. In your description include a way to follow the action, via a blog or social media, or both.
“Social media, social media, social media and more social media,” said Dan Cahalane, who raised over $8,000 with his “Bet Against Cancer” campaign. “That’s the key, making people aware of it, getting the messages out there, getting others to share that message. Really it’s the social part that drives the donations.”
Cahalane created a blog where he provided daily updates of his 300-mile trek spent kayaking through the Florida Everglades. His friends and family also shared these updates, and he credited these efforts as a big key to his success.
You’ve already put the work into finding a cause that you want to support and setting up a website. Now take your campaign to the next level by following the guide above! That’s it. We hope these tips prove to be helpful as you setup your campaign.