Introducing a new crowdfunding campaign or online fundraising initiative is a big deal. The success of this launch is strongly dependent on the engagement received from campus partners.
Does the marketing team have enough bandwidth to promote this new campaign or event? Are the Major Gift officers willing to secure gifts to feed into the strategy of this event? Do you have volunteers available to help with online promotions? How about the Advancement Team, is there enough support to dedicate manpower to build and manage this platform at our institution?
These, along with many other factors, will play a significant role in the success of your next launch.
Build Awareness with Campus Partners
The first step in engaging campus or community partners in this effort is spreading awareness about the digital giving event that is coming up.
For example, if your team is looking to engage internal stakeholders in an upcoming campus-wide Giving Day, spread awareness for this event through the following channels:
- Bring the Advancement Team together to identify roles for all team members in building, promoting, and maintaining the event
- Hold a lunch-in for internal staff to promote the “why” behind the Giving Day
- Announce the event in the Campus Newsletter
- Send an internal email to all departments that will be involved
- Personally reach out to all of the campaign creators who will be writing the stories for each fundable area
- Schedule meetings with IT, Marketing, and Gift Processing to discuss and understand their commitment to the timeline for this launch
Find Your Champions
After promoting your Giving Day to the internal community and recognizing the roles that different departments will play, focus attention on finding the best champions for this event.
Consider your champions to be the main influencers for the initiative and those individuals who will drive engagement to the campaigns or challenges being offered. For a Giving Day, think about the people who will resonate most with your donors. In higher education, this could mean the University President, the Deans of the different colleges, professors, coaches for the athletic teams, or maybe even alumni who are popular in the community, such as star athletes or public figures.
After identifying the champions you would like to team up with, make the ask in a personal way. Consider making a phone call to potential champions to explain their role in boosting engagement for your institution. You could even draft an email that outlines the ways in which these ambassadors can help the university by creating a sense of community around this initiative.
Make it clear that you are asking these people to participate because of their ability to influence donors in a positive way.
Now that you have the attention and interest of champions and internal partners, make sure to provide instructions on what you need these individuals or teams to help with.
Be clear about how important it is to have the commitment and participation of your partners. Recognize where these team members can be of the most value to the success of the event and then draft clear instructions and a timeline of next steps.
For example, one of the main campus partners in this scenario would be the Marketing and Communications staff. Based on the bandwidth of your partner, provide direction on what is needed and when. Schedule a meeting with the Marketing team to discuss deliverables needed for the event.
Materials that could be needed for a Giving Day include:
- Save the Date Announcements
- A Social Media Toolkit
- Emails for Different Donor Segments
- Images and a Promotional Video for the Giving Platform
Define the timeline by which you will need tasks completed by and discuss this with your partners to ensure you have their commitment.
Another way to give direction includes creating a calendar that ties teammates to deliverables and dates.
With a Giving Day on the horizon, it might be valuable to define when Major Gift Officers need to secure matching gifts, or the timing by which the IT staff will need to have the final testing done on the webpage. And, of course, dates for your soft launch period where campaign leads will want to have all stories and content completed and ready to go. Transparency around hard dates will inform partners of the launch plans and helps to create a sense of teamwork through the preparation period.
Empower by Providing the Right Resources and Tools
The hard work is behind you now! Your efforts to build awareness, partnerships, and solicit additional support and commitment for the big Giving Day have gone a long way and most likely taken up a few months of time and planning.
Now that you have identified the key players and their roles in this initiative, it’s time to empower these partners to be successful.
Create and share a Giving Day packet that provides an overview of the schedule of the important dates for final meetings, promotional events, and marketing both leading up to and during the big day. This tool should serve as an internal guide for your partners to follow along with the schedule of activity. Include background information on the big challenges, matches and prizes for the day along with details on the campaigns that will be showcased as funding opportunities for donors.
Sharing this information will empower your team to speak confidently to the community about the event.
Be sure to include a toolkit with the details your Champions will need to be successful in promoting this initiative, such as:
- Key times for outreach during the Giving Day
- List of valuable donor touch points before, during, and after the event
- A summary of the goals of your institution
- Templated examples for social media posts
- Approved language for email promotions
- Branded images to use for profile pictures on social media accounts
- Contact information for those managing the event incase urgent questions arise
- Stewardship resources and a suggested timeline for Champions to thank donors once gifts are received and then again once the event has ended
Even though commitment has been expressed from both campus partners and volunteers, be sure to stay connected in the month leading up to the big day.
Reach out to your teammates one month prior to the Giving Day to share the pre-event schedule and ensure there are no questions about the final plans in place. This is also a good time to personally follow up with those who volunteered to make sure they are still available and willing to play a part.
Schedule a meeting or a check-in one week before the go-live date with the different teams involved. During this time review the roles and responsibilities of the parties participating and leave time for any last minute questions or edits to the plan.
It’s best to then recap this meeting with an email or announcement to your team 24-48 hours before the launch.
The purpose of these touch points is to serve as a reminder about the Giving Day, an opportunity for team members to ask questions, and an effort for you to volunteer to help with any requests to provide insight, additional support or materials.
As always, show appreciation for those who participated in the success of this Giving Day!
Personal thank you phone calls and letters to your team members and volunteers go a long way in expressing the value of their commitments. You might even find the need to publicly thank ambassadors on social media or the university’s website.
And lastly, be sure to keep the door open for feedback on how things played out so that your management team can refine the process if needed for the next initiative.