4 Insights to Managing Hiccups in Your Fundraising Campaign

Even the most well-organized fundraising campaigns can encounter obstacles—unexpected wrinkles in the plan that have the potential to send your efforts off track. Small hiccups occur in almost every fundraising campaign but there is no reason you have to be derailed by them!

When problems arise, you’ll benefit from a dedicated team of fundraisers capable of quick thinking and committed to cultivating the attitude of gratitude that makes philanthropic efforts succeed despite any setbacks. 

Preliminary steps taken to avoid or minimize these setbacks are also highly useful. As you plan and carry out your next fundraising campaign, you should:

  1. Set achievable goals before your campaign begins.Fundraising Campaign Management
  2. Approach supporters in personalized ways.
  3. Minimize any roadblocks to giving.
  4. Evaluate what went well and what could be improved after your campaign ends.

Your campaign is most likely to proceed smoothly and eventually succeed when you set reasonable goals that your organization is likely to achieve within the boundaries that you have defined in advance.

1. Set achievable goals before your campaign begins.

While you may not be able to avoid every hiccup that arises in your next fundraising campaign, creating a strong plan before you begin approaching supporters for their contributions is essential to minimizing the effects of any setbacks you do encounter. Before your campaign begins, ensure that you have defined specific and achievable fundraising goals.

Set your fundraiser up for success by defining your goals and your plans for reaching them as clearly as possible before you get started. You’ll experience fewer hiccups with a step-by-step plan in place. As you form your plan, you’ll need to:

  • Determine your fundraising needs. Decide on the specific amounts you need to raise during your campaign for each aspect of your project. You’re more likely to stay on track when you have clearly defined goals to plan for and work toward.
  • Evaluate your campaign history. Which strategies worked for your organization in the past, and which ones didn’t? Which approaches and communication methods have your supporters tended to respond to best? Your past experiences provide valuable lessons in what works for your organization and what doesn’t.
  • Consider your current supporters. The more you understand about the supporters whose information you already have saved—from the projects they’ve been excited to contribute to in the past to their various giving capabilities—the better you’ll be able to approach them for gifts during your campaign.

If your organization is embarking on a major fundraising effort such as a capital campaign, taking great care in the planning stages is essential to minimizing hiccups later in the campaign. Whether your organization's fundraising team is planning your campaign with the help of a capital campaign consultant or working on your own, you’ll benefit from entering your campaign with a detailed plan in place.

Capital campaigns aren’t your only opportunity to create a fundraising plan that will help you stay on track and avoid upsets wherever possible. Whether you’re embarking on a time-sensitive project or a year-round effort such as encouraging gifts to your annual fund, you’ll see better results when you’ve made a plan and know how you’re going to approach different supporters.

2. Approach supporters in personalized ways.

Excited supporters make your campaign run smoother and help minimize the number of hiccups you encounter. Motivate your supporters to contribute to your campaign by approaching them according to their particular interests in your organization.

When it comes to learning more about your supporters before you approach them for gifts, the best place to start is your current supporter database. With the help of prospect research tools, the guidance of your fundraising consultant, or both, you’ll gather more valuable information to incorporate when you reach out to your supporters and add to your database for future reference.

Some of the information that you can gather and use to better inform your approach toward different groups of donors includes:

  • Their giving capacities. Asking supporters for the wrong size gift can lead them to decide not to give at all. Avoid this mistake by using prospect research data, including their past giving histories that will provide helpful hints about their giving tendencies.
  • Their histories with your organization. Long-term supporters will have demonstrated their interest in specific aspects of your organization and will appreciate communications structured around those interests. A general ask will come across as too impersonal for these supporters, so ensure that you have researched their past involvement with your organization before you approach them. 
  • The opportunities they have to give more. Supporters feel good when they’re able to contribute more to the causes they care about, and your organization doesn’t want to make the mistake of overlooking additional contributions that may be available. Check out 360MatchPro’s guide to matching gifts to learn how you can determine whether your supporters are eligible for their employers’ matching gift programs. These programs are an easy way to increase giving and make supporters feel great about themselves.

How to Engage the Right Person, at the Right Time, In the Right Way: A Framework

Engaging the right person in the right way may seem to be a difficult process initially. With plenty of information about your supporters and a well-designed plan in place, however, you’ll be able to avoid or minimize potential setbacks. 

Just as your organization can manage hiccups and setbacks on your end, you can make the fundraising process smoother for your contributors as well. Offer multiple giving options so that your supporters have no trouble making their contributions.

3. Minimize any roadblocks to giving.

Once you’ve reached out to your supporters and they’re motivated to contribute toward your campaign, make sure that the giving process itself doesn’t create any setbacks that may keep them from completing their gifts. Multiple giving options and help from your organization’s team can facilitate the process and encourage further giving.

Creating Your Nonprofit's Website: The Essential Guide

You’ll approach the goal of making giving easy in different ways for supporters intending to give at different levels. Lower and mid-level supporters will appreciate the convenience of giving through your nonprofit’s website, while supporters with the potential to give major gifts will most likely want to interact with individual members of your organization’s team.

To make the giving process smoother for supporters at all giving levels, make sure that your organization:

  • Makes online giving easy. These days, most supporters expect to be able to make smaller gifts online. Your online giving page should be easy to access from your organization’s website and just as simple to use. If you’re revamping your online giving capabilities, you can check out some nonprofit-specific payment processing tools here.
  • Reaches out to supporters with the potential to make major gifts. You’ll need to approach your highest-level supporters in person before they make their contributions. They’ll be encouraged to complete their gifts—and potentially give again—when you facilitate connections between them and the members of your team.
  • Takes note of your supporters’ feedback. Listen to what your supporters have to tell you about their experience giving to your organization. If they suggest that the process itself was difficult, your organization’s purpose for their gifts was unclear, or that they weren’t given enough recognition, adjust your strategy to take these and other points of feedback into account.

A good plan and the ability to adjust it as needed are essential to an effective fundraising campaign. Take note of what goes well and what could use some adjustments so that your next campaign is even better!

4. Evaluate what went well and what could be improved after your campaign ends.

One of your goals for your organization should be to make each fundraising campaign more successful than the last. No matter how many or how few hiccups your last campaign had, evaluating its strengths and weaknesses is an essential step to take in preparation for your next campaign.

Whether your organization has planned your campaign alone or with the guidance of a fundraising consultant, evaluation is an important step in finishing up your campaign. You can check out Averill Fundraising Solutions’ list of the top nonprofit fundraising consultants to learn more about the ways in which a consultant can help you interpret the results of your most recent campaign.

As you evaluate your campaign, you may want to ask yourself and the other members of your organization’s fundraising team:

  • What appeals did your supporters respond to the most and the least?
  • What portions of your project were your supporters most eager to fund?
  • When you spoke to your supporters, what aspects of your work did they express the most interest in?
  • How do you plan to incorporate the feedback your supporters gave in future campaigns?

The (right) picture is worth 1,000 words

During the process of determining the success of your fundraising effort, data visualization can help you better understand your progress and your supporters’ preferences. It’s also a great way to share information effectively with the other members of your team.

Every step you take to understand the ups and downs of your most recent campaign is a step toward ensuring the success of your next effort. With the right strategies in place before your campaign begins, you’ll be able to minimize upsets and solve the little ones that occur along the way. 

 


A few minor hiccups are almost inevitable in every fundraising campaign, but your organization’s team can manage them by planning ahead and being good problem-solvers along the way. A successful campaign is a team effort and makes the process as smooth as possible for both you and your supporters.

About the Author

Bob Happy

Bob Happy brings nearly 35 years of experience providing expert leadership and direction to clients across the not-for-profit sector to his current role as President of Averill Solutions. Before forming Averill Solutions, Bob served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the nation’s largest fundraising firm. He has mentored hundreds of professional fundraising practitioners and many have joined him at Averill Fundraising Solutions.

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