If you think the business of selling products or services is hard, you should try your hand at online fundraising. Fundraising is difficult for a number of reasons. From money being tight to a bout of compassion fatigue or a general lack of interest (fundraising is a competitive business – and sometimes it seems that everyone is asking for money), there are a million reasons why someone will find it easy to say no to your campaign.

Online fundraising should never be seen as the digital equivalent of shaking a collection tin at anyone who “walks” by – this approach will always be limited in its success. Online fundraisers have access to the same sophisticated content marketing arsenal as big businesses, so there is no reason why their efforts cannot be more sophisticated.

So how can you make your campaign stand out from the crowd and keep the money coming in? We’ve compiled five tips to ensure your campaign delivers more than goodwill.

Five Tips for Success

  1. Build a Team: Teamwork really does make the dream work. Even the smallest of teams, pushing out to their various networks, will help you reach a more sizeable and therefore potentially lucrative audience. Individual successes will inspire others to make a more concentrated effort and help lift spirits on days when others aren’t doing so well.
  2. Tell a Story: Successful fundraising starts with a good story. Tell people what inspired you to work toward your current goal and how previous efforts have really helped to make a difference. And whenever possible, focus on the positive. Even in the most dire of situations, you can nearly always find a positive story of hope, achievement or humanity. Don’t just focus on social media to share your story. Build a blog, and you’ll find it easier to acquire new email subscribers and build real relationships with your supporters.
  3. Focus on People: Just like in business, people “buy” from people they like, aspire to be like and identify with, so try to focus on people and their hopes and aspirations for the future. These are much easier to identify with than a cash target.
  4. Document Everything: If you are building up to a big fundraising event (for example, running a half-marathon or doing a long-distance cycle ride), document everything you do in preparation. Go crazy on social media with photographs, video, GIFs, social stories, etc., and encourage your supporters to share your progress. Every piece of “marketing collateral” should always have a link to learn more or donate – but this should almost appear secondary to the story of your fundraising efforts. Like all good content marketing, the story will “sell” the cause for you, and you’ll hardly need to ask for help.
  5. Keep Your Supporters in the Loop: A timely email to your list of supporters, updating them of your efforts, sharing campaign progress or simply saying thank you will go a long way to building a solid network of supporters you can rely on in future campaigns. Remember, these aren’t just people you can go to when you need money. They have bought a stake in your campaign and will want to know how well their money is being spent.

How have you found success with your online fundraising efforts? Share your comments below:

This post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.

Image: Howard Lake.