Lessons Learned

  • If this your first personal fundraising campaign, design a modest campaign as an action learning experiment. Use it to learn what works and what doesn't for your cause. You can always take what you've learned and launch a larger, second campaign. It's best to start with a small success than a more ambitious campaign that doesn't reach its goal.

  • Don't be afraid to write a blog post about your campaign planning and solicit ideas from your readers and other contacts. Some of the best strategy ideas for my campaign came from blog readers or contacts. A blog is great for "thinking outloud" and this should be extended to thinking about some campaign strategy ideas.

  • A small amount of time spent on upfront organization will allow you to be efficient in implementing your campaign. This includes writing your campaign solicitation and thank you messages in advance as well as spending some time identifying and prioritizing your campaign prospects. It also helped to map out a timeline. The advanced planning allowed me to implement the campaign in small chunks.

  • Identify a campaign purpose that is specific and authentic. Follow your passion and it will motivate others to support your cause. Don't go for a pie-in-the-sky purpose, be as realistic as possible. Pick a specific dollar amount for a goal. Use this formula: "Help Me Raise $x to do Y outcome."

  • Your campaign ask should be more about you and why you care for the cause. Don't rehash the organization's biolerplate. Speak in your own voice. The call to action should go beyond asking people to donate. Encourage people to copy the widget and add it to their blogs, link to your campaign, and forward the request to their friends. Write regular blog posts throughout the campaign, including reaching important milestones or thanking donors.

  • Don't broadcast your pitch to every contact in your address book or in social networking sites. Instead, evaluate whether or not they also might care enough about your cause to support it. Sort your prospects into A, B, and C lists so you can stage the distribution of your solicitations.

  • Make sure the widget is visible on your blog, by adding it to the side bar or in a post that is elevated to the top of your blog. Encourage donors and supporters to copy the widget code and place on their blog. Show screen captures of the widget on other people's blogs.

  • Don't forget about using photos and videos to tell the story of your campaign. Visuals are powerful aids to getting your message across. Make sure you distribute your photos and videos in photo and video sharing sites that you have used and have a large contact list.

  • If you are using social media and networking applications to distribute your campaign pitch, don't forget to use tags, groups, and private messaging to reach additional prospects.