8 Lessons From a 1-Woman-Fundraising-Phenomenon

Wendy van Eyck, communications manager for Qhubeka, had to learn very quickly how to make the most of limited time and resources. In 2014, she managed to increase Qhubeka’s fundraising by more than 15 times the amount raised in 2013 through the GiveHope campaign. She shared 8 tips for running a successful peer-to-peer online fundraising campaign.
 
Work smarter not harder
 
Wendy uses automated email replies to make her life easier. However, this does not mean that her communication with Qhubeka’s supporters is impersonal. She uses many different email templates to address different segments of her audience. New activists, for example, receive a series of four emails which welcome, equip and encourage them to take on their new role as volunteer fundraisers (activists) for Qhubeka. She includes Qhubeka’s unique “fundraising kit”, which gives activists ideas on how to kick start a campaign, and includes photos and links they can share with friends.
 
Encourage and motivate your activists
 
Automation is extremely helpful in managing time, but it cannot be the only form of interaction with activists. Wendy 'keeps an eye' on every activist’s progress, and would send them an email to congratulate and encourage them when they have reached their halfway mark, and again when they have reached their goal. These emails are personal and include some additional tips and advice.
 
Wendy also has an 'influencers list' - people with a large following on social media - whom she asks to share Qhubeka’s news. She asks these people to amplify the message of her cause and help her to reach more people through their respective networks. Reaching out to her influencers includes sending them emails, tweets and photos that they can post directly to their networks. (You can set up your own Influencers List using an App such as WhoTweetedMe and IfThisThenThat, or create one manually.)
 
Captivate your audience with stories
 
Wendy believes that stories have a big impact on people. That is why she tries to tell stories of the children who have benefitted from Qhubeka, sharing their names with donors and showing how it has changed their lives. She also asks supporters and activists to tell their personal stories when asking their friends to support Qhubeka. According to a report published by Georgetown University, storytelling turns awareness into action: more than half of those surveyed agreed that they had read stories on social media that have made them want to do more. 
 
Pick yourself up and try again
 
If at first you do not succeed, do not give up! Wendy managed to drastically improve the success of the Give Hope campaign within just one year. In the first year, they raised only R12 000; in the next, the number grew to R200 000. Wendy admits that she learnt a lot through the first try, and applied the lessons she learned.
 
The early bird catches the worm)
 
Planning for Qhubeka’s successful GiveHope campaign started in June, four months ahead of its launch in October. Her preparation went into composing campaign emails, organising the production of a campaign video and putting various campaign elements into place.
 
Link it up
 
Wendy attributes much of the success of Qhubeka’s GiveHope campaign to the integrated donation landing page that was set up on their website. From here everything was linked: news about the campaign, links to social media and their GivenGain secure donation page, and even products from their online store. Integration is important, but so are clear calls to action. It must be very easy for a donor to understand what you want from them when they arrive on your website.
 
Make donors feel valued, rather than annoyed
 
According to Wendy, she continually asks herself, “Would I want to receive this in an email?” Following this principle, she goes to great lengths to ensure that Qhubeka’s supporters don’t receive the same email twice by checking her mailing lists meticulously. “It is easier to retain a donor than to establish one,” she believes. She spends more time on getting people to be recurring donors. (Both MailChimp and Campaign Monitor enable you to remove people from mailing lists through their “suppression list” functions.)
 
Build lasting relationships
 
Keeping her communication concise and interesting enables Wendy to achieve what she considers to be the most important: building relationships with donors. She does this by telling them exactly what their donations will be used for, and regularly reporting back to tell them the stories of children whose lives were touched through their support. In fact, a 2013 study by the Urban Institute Centre on Nonprofits and Philanthropy showed the costs associated with finding and processing new donors are generally higher than maintaining connections with existing donors. This is why Wendy is serious about donor retention.
 
Wendy has found what works for her campaigns at Qhubeka. Learn from her to find out what works for yours. Successful online fundraising can be a quick endeavor if you utilise your resources and focus on the right things.   

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