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On-Demand Webinar

Digital Envy: Showcasing the Best of Digital Fundraising

That’s right, we’re firing up the very best digital fundraising examples from nonprofits like yours. This session will inspire and equip you with concrete tactics you can implement in your next digital fundraising campaign. We’ll explore great content, unique thinking and delightful design through emails, websites, online advertising, donation pages, videos—and anything else that increases donations.

By the end of this presentation, you’ll know:

  • How nonprofits are using creativity and interactivity to engage donors and supporters
  • What makes these “best of” examples successful
  • How to take inspiration from these examples and turn them into real change at your organization


Hello and welcome to Digital Envy: The “Best of” Digital Fundraising Examples. I’m Rachel Clemens, CMO here at Mighty Citizen. I’ll give an intro into my background in a minute. Today we’re going to talk about digital envy and we’re going to take a look at some best of fundraisers. I’m here to inspire you guys with digital case studies. I love to geek out on strategy, design, content, all the things that make for great fundraising examples and I’m going to share my little collection with you today. My goal is that you’ll grab a few nuggets here and there that you can turn into ideas to take back to your nonprofit or university to create change. So we want to take some nuggets back today, share those with people we need to share them with, and then put them into practice for ourselves.

We’ve got orgs of all different sizes from 2 million dollars in budget to about 20 million, so I’m hoping that you might fall somewhere in there and regardless I think you will be able to take ideas even if an org is bigger than you or smaller than you. Where I could gather success metrics? I’ve done that so you know they’re successful not only from how they look and talk about themselves, but also from that fundraising perspective. We’ll also take a look at how a lot of our fundraising campaigns actually start out as awareness campaigns and what we can learn from that.

So quick intro, again I’m Rachel Clemens. I work at Mighty Citizen. We’re a branding and digital agency for nonprofits. That means we do everything from fundraising communications, like we’re going to talk about today. We also help our clients with branding their websites and technology and also their data and analytics. I’m also the mom of an 8 year old, who is quickly becoming his own mighty citizen and so I always like to share that, especially I’m recording this right after Mother’s Day, so I’m on a bit of a mother high.

Today we’re going to talk about a few things, but by the end of this we’ll know how to use creativity and interactivity to engage your donors and supporters. We’ll talk about what makes these samples successful so that you can take those learnings and merge them with your own organization. And we’ll have takeaways that you can share with your team to create real change at your organization.

Before we launch into the samples, I’m going to talk a little bit about why this matters. Why we’re focused on digital fundraising specifically. So for you out there, I want you to think to yourselves, do you know what percentage of your donations are received online? If you don’t know this number, don’t run off into it right this minute, but this is a great number to know within your org. If you’re like most nonprofits, you are seeing these numbers increase year after year and so if you don’t know this number off hand, I think it’s really great to have at the ready.

So I want to share some numbers with you. This is the percentage of total fundraising from online giving and this comes from Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report. If you haven’t seen this report, it’s an excellent resource. And so this is showing over the last few years, what percentage of our giving comes from online and so you’ll see that number is steadily increasing. That is something that we’re going to continue to see over and over again.

Following up on that, the percentage of online donations made from a mobile device. So of those online given numbers, currently the latest data says 21% of those are coming on mobile. And what you’ll hear too is that is also increasing, and it’s increasing pretty quickly. You want to make sure whatever you’re doing that it is mobile friendly, so a lot of these examples I’m going to show you took that into consideration. Look at how many of your donations are coming from mobile and not just that, but how your number might be changing from year to year. My guess is that it is increasing. We’re seeing that across the board.

So let’s start with our first example. This is from United Way for Greater Austin. They have about a $15 million budget and they serve many different services across the city of Austin. Their goal was to let local donors know that the money they give in Austin stays in Austin. I imagine there are a lot of you out there that might struggle with this, especially if you are a chapter of a national organization like they are. They need to tie in to the local community. We know that donors like to give locally and have their money stay local and for United Way for Greater Austin, a lot of them thought that the money that they gave to United Way went internationally or at least to D.C. They did go through a name change previously. They were called United Way Capital Area and so that was compounding the confusion around where the money goes. So the name change was part of this effort to United Way for Greater Austin and then with that, we wanted to really push– this one happens to be a Mighty Citizen campaign, but we wanted to really push the local Austin aspect.

So we started with a concept, and the concept is basically the big idea that’s going to engage audiences and frame your messaging. You can come up with this big idea on your own or you can hire an agency to come up with it for you and then you can build on it. So a big idea or concept is sort of the nugget from which you can build all kinds of materials. It helps to create consistency across your communications and having a big idea or one central concept can really help with limited resources. A lot of us, most of us, are struggling with having limited resources and so having a big idea to carry through and lots of opportunities is one way just to make your job maybe just a little bit easier.

So we developed the Makes Austin Greater campaign. It’s a fill in the blank campaign. It ties into Austin and what people love about the city of Austin, and that’s a little different so it’s fill in the blank. I’ll give you some examples of how it’s been used. So in some ways it’s used for things that tie back to the city itself, for example Queso, that’s my contribution, and live music. Two things that Austin is pretty well known for. So they can use it in that way to tie back to the city, but they can also use it for things like giving back or your support. And so there’s lots of different opportunities here to use the campaign in many different ways.

We push the campaign out through digital ads and print ads. You’re looking at both here. So on the left side, Overcoming Barriers to Success Makes Austin Greater. These are digital ads that were run. On the right side is a print ad that ran in the local paper, Helping Our Most Vulnerable Kids Makes Austin Greater. So clearly this was part of the donation campaign. We’re really driving for donations here and you’ll see that call to action in these ads.

We also pushed the campaign a lot on social media. So you’ll notice here on the left, they’ve got the Director of Grants at United Way, holding up a sign that says “giving makes Austin greater” and that is just showing that within the organization what they need to make Austin greater. On the right is a campaigner for United Way, Gerald, and they’re calling out Gerald and giving him special recognition on social. Keep in mind, if you’ve got people engaged in your organization who might have pretty relevant or influenceable social followings, you want to tap into them and tag them because that’s just going to further your campaign. They’re going to share it with their friends, gives them some love, and their friends start to think, “oh maybe I should be engaged with United Way”.

They also extend a bit across lots of different opportunities on social. On the left it says Affiniscape Makes Austin Greater. That’s one of their corporate partners, so in this way they’re giving recognition to their corporate partners and saying “you make Austin greater”. They used it for holidays like the fourth of July and the dog costume contest here in Austin. We do like to keep it weird. And then you’ll see there they’re thanking AJ. AJ is a member of their young leadership society and they’re thanking AJ again who had a following on social.

The campaign was used in lots of different ways and keep in mind, it’s not enough just to ask people to give you money. You have to make them care. So this campaign really tapped into the things that people love about Austin and introduced them to new things they might not have known. It gave recognition to individual donors and to corporate donors and it just spread the love and really highlighted that the money you give in Austin stays in Austin. Keep in mind too, they ran this campaign for several years and so I would imagine that by the end of it, they were all sort of sick of seeing it. But keep in mind that people don’t think about you as much as you think about you. You have to say the same thing over and over because unless you do, people are going to forget about you. Just around the time that you’re getting sick of seeing it is around the time that your audiences are finally taking note of it. Keep that in mind and don’t let a campaign die early just because you’re kind of sick of promoting it.

Also wanted to point to some non-digital uses of the campaign because I thought these were especially impactful and interesting. On the left it says “Deloitte Makes Austin Greater”. This was actually chalked into a sidewalk on a giving day, or sorry on a volunteer day, where Deloitte was out at a local school, beautifying the school, and so someone at United Way chalked in “Deloitte Makes Austin Greater”. Again, tying into that corporate partnership with a little guerrilla marketing. On the right is the Samsung break-room wall. Those of you familiar with United Way will know that much of their donations come through employee giving campaigns. Employees giving through their paychecks. And so they have a tight partnership with Samsung and this is everything we hoped and dreamed when we launched the campaign that people would embrace the campaign and make it their own. And so people that participate in Samsung’s campaign wrote in what makes Austin greater to them. There’s some really fun stuff in here. Ryan Gosling sightings, the dog park. Things like that.

They also took the campaign on the road, so they created a frame that frames people’s faces and again, these people are sharing this on social and it gives them props for making Austin greater. This is some pictures with middle school students. One other benefit of the campaign is really tying into younger audiences. This campaign does that. They also use it for “thank you” notes, that’s up there on the top right and then as a backdrop for events in the bottom left there, or sorry bottom right.

So what were the results? Based on 1200% increase in online donations. That’s a three year number so over three years I saw over 1200% increase. In one year they saw a 10% increase through their employee giving campaigns, so that’s a big deal for them in one year. They saw 600% increase in people talking about United Way on Facebook. Again that’s a one year number and they saw four million targeted impressions through the print campaign that we ran, print and digital campaign.

Some takeaways from this particular campaign, be sure to invite others to participate in your brand and campaign. This can be a little bit scary for brand managers. If you’re like me, I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to have control over how my brand is used, but if you give people a little bit of freedom, they will do amazing things with it as we saw with the Samsung example. The best campaigns make donors feel powerful or special. Again, we highlighted individual donors and partners in the frame of Makes Austin Greater. Told them that they make Austin greater and so just gave them special recognition. It’s something they’re likely to share. Creativity goes a long way. I’m going to talk about this a lot. A lot of the examples I’m showing you are creative because we have to make people care, we have to make them feel something, and so I feel like this campaign had a lot of creativity and people were more likely to share it because of it.

Let’s take a look at a smaller example. This is Literacy First. They have about a 3 million dollar budget. They’re actually part of UT, which is the University of Texas. They’re a small literacy program within that much larger university and so they help kids from second, sorry, kindergarten to second grade with reading literacy. Their goal was to diversify their income by increasing the number of individual donors to the organization. So for a long time they’ve been getting funding from the University of Texas and like a lot of public institutions, that funding is not always reliable, and so they wanted to find a way to really increase their giving with individual donors.

As I mentioned, there is K through second grade literacy to get kids ready for third grade reading level. What I love about their campaign, you can start to see it here, is the authenticity with which they are showing their brand. So they send in their students (Americorps volunteers) directly into classrooms. They’re with their students everyday. They create very strong bonds with their students and you start to see that in these images. So they’re in the classrooms taking actual photos of their volunteers and their students.

So we’re going to take a look at their campaign from a local giving day called Amplify Austin. It runs for 24 hours, typically in the spring, and so there’s a lot of competition during that time because just about every Austin nonprofit is participating. They did a great job of really getting people ready for the big day well before it kicked off and so they started their email communications about 4 weeks before giving day and they really pushed that whole amplify message. The emails feature that great photography of actual students and kids and so you’ll see they’re kind of prepping the audience with these emails.

They then added on social outreach during the event. You can see that they-, “Tonight at 6pm, Amplify Austin begins” and they would post throughout the day and sort of give updates on like how much longer you had to donate, the fact that the Amplify Austin is in full swing, and so it was kind of cheering them out throughout the day to donate if they hadn’t already, or maybe to donate again.

They also provided their board with great materials. This is something that I love about this organization. We did some branding work with them and when we came on board, their board was not really a fundraising board and so that was something they needed to implement in order to help meet this goal and so we talked about giving their board lots of great materials, making it really easy for them to help them out and help them raise money. So they developed a Google doc, which outlined the “how to’s” for fundraising for Amplify Austin to sort of step by step how to do it. They included messaging for them, they included a logo, some graphics for them so that they could have it at the ready to share. They didn’t have to think too much about it. Also some Facebook and social messaging as well as some “Thank you” messaging so they provided a templated thank you email that our board members could use to really make it easy on them throughout the day instead of going through Amplify Austin.

They also used “Day in the Life” videos to bring the mission home and what I mean by that is this is a short little 2 minute video. It’s actually created by the tutors themselves, so the young people that are involved in the organization came to them with the idea of creating this video and they did a great job. A lot of us think that video has to be high production quality, but what we don’t realize is that all those cat videos we watch everyday are just people shooting on their iPhones. So the public has really gotten very used to having the video that they’re seeing just be shot on a phone. We’re getting more acclimated to not everything having to be a high production quality, which is great news for nonprofits because we don’t always have the budgets to do that. And so I love that when you- I show this image from the video because this looks and feels like every elementary school you’ve ever been in. I can kind of imagine the smell just standing here looking at the image, so they did a great job. Just keep in mind with videos, it does not have to be high production quality and maybe you’ve got some volunteers who are really good at this and who would be willing to do it for you.

One of the things I absolutely love about Literacy First and Rachel, their development director, is that they do such a good job with thank you’s. They do thank you’s in a big way. Throughout the giving day, they send real time thank you emails to donors as they were making their donations. So I made a small donation to them, she sent me a very personalized email. I’m sure it was based on template, but she did personalize it immediately after my give and then the next day I got a mass thank you email as well. They included a video in that thank you email. They just do a great job of really saying thank you. You know, we thank our donors and then we assume that they heard that thank you, but just like any other form of marketing or communications, we really have to do that multiple times for them to get that they’ve been thanked.

They also sent thank you videos. These were links in the videos. The student is a narrator and he’s so dang cute. He’s going to be a star someday, no matter what he’s doing. Again, these were created by our tutors and they make you feel really great about that money you just gave. They also thanked on social and they reported back on their results, so they’re reporting back here on the money they raised, how many people gave to them, and then they did a great thing. They did a thank you call. They had their tutors calling the volunteer- or sorry, the donors and they had a message and they just said thank you. So I got a phone call. Like most people, it went to voicemail because I didn’t know who was calling. They left me a very nice voicemail and then I got this follow-up email that says “we just called to say we love you”. It’s one thing- it’s kind of a step beyond at this point to get a thank you call, but it’s a step beyond to get a follow up email to that call. So again, I noticed how much they thanked me and I felt very loved.

So their results, they saw a 50% increase in their online donations over the last year. Now they’re not raising huge amounts of money, but that’s a huge increase for any organization. Twenty percent of the campaign revenue was raised by one board member, so again, their board had not traditionally been a fundraising board and so they really saw their number start to increase with getting the materials to make it easy for them. Fifty percent of their donors were new donors. Now the process starts cultivating and stewarding those donors, but that’s great news again for any organization.

The takeaways from this campaign, tap into your board’s fundraising potential by making it really easy for them to give. A lot of us want our board members to go out and raise money on our behalf, but let’s make it as easy as possible for them. A lot of the times, we have this language at our ready already, so let’s give it to them and make it easy. Video does not have to cost a lot of money. Again, our phones are getting better and better, so let’s use those resources to go ahead and shoot it and our audiences are expecting less in the form of production quality, which is good news for us. Thank, and thank, and thank again. I can’t say this enough. What I love about this campaign and this organization is they do a great job of thanking their donors.

So I want to find out from you guys as we head into the next thing- what I want you to think about. Is your organization looking for ways to actively engage younger audiences? I love talking about this. When we engage with a nonprofit, often we’re talking about their donors and what we’re really talking about are donors that are in their 60s, 70s, 80s because those are most of our major gift donors. But many of us need to be turning our attention- or not our attention, but some of our attention to younger audiences because they are coming into their earning potential and we need to think about the long-term sustainability of our organizations by thinking about engaging younger audiences.

So let’s take a look at an example that did just that. This is from World Wildlife Fund. They are a $280 million budgeted organization, so they are huge and the campaign we’re going to look at was actually from their Danish branch. I don’t have information about the numbers for that organization, but it is coming from a portion of the World Wildlife Fund. They wanted to raise awareness among young audiences and increase donations for endangered animals. Again, they are looking out for animals on the extinction list and for animals that are in threat of going extinct. They need to find the right medium and the right message to get this campaign across to younger audiences so they chose Snapchat. For those of you that are not as familiar with Snapchat, it’s a photo messaging application. It’s popular among young audiences and once an image is sent with Snapchat and viewed, it disappears in seconds with no chance of being seen again. So just like the endangered animals that the WWF protects, the images disappear, have the potential– well they all disappear, but again we’re trying to keep these animals from disappearing so it’s a great tie-in. They basically used Snapchat’s native time to message functionality to highlight that time is running out for endangered species and so you’ll see that here. They ran the last selfie campaign and so you’ll see that hashtag, “Don’t let this be my last selfie”, “in 6 seconds I’ll be gone forever, but you can still save my kind”, hashtag last selfie.

So they really matched the platform to the audience. They sent it to influencers first, just a few influencers on Snapchat and asked them to share it. They were asking people to follow WWF on Snapchat and when they followed them, they then got a last selfie message. Users needed to take a screen-capture of the image before the image disappears and then they could share that on social as well. Whether it was Snapchat, or Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

The beautiful thing is that they used Snapchat’s unique qualities. So they basically used the idea that the image disappears as a native function of Snapchat, to further their message that these creatures will disappear if we don’t take action. So users could take that action by sending an SMS to WWF, sharing the screenshot of the snap, or they could go to the WWF website and adopt an animal, so there were lots of different ways they were asking people to engage. People then took the screenshots and shared them on their own Twitter or Facebook as well, and so the campaign just really grabbed traction not just on Snapchat, but on other channels too.

The results, 40,000 Twitter users posted it in one week’s time and 120 million Twitter users saw the campaign in one week, which at the time was 50% of all Twitter users. Fifty percent of all people who use Twitter saw this campaign in one week. That is amazing. That tells you the range and scope of this campaign. It took 3 days to reach the WWF fundraising goal that normally takes a month, so again super accelerated campaign and it generated news and headlines in 6 different languages from all over the world. So again, it’s just the creativity behind this and the tapping in to the native functionality of the platform that really drove the engagement on the campaign.

So takeaways. You could run a very specific campaign for a very specific audience and see great success from it. Again, it started with that big concept, that great idea. For those of you that are looking to engage certain and unique audiences that maybe you haven’t done before, think of a unique way to reach that particular audience and be very narrow about it. That could be very successful. Match your platform to your audience. We don’t need to be on every social platform, but we need to make sure the ones we’re on, match the audience we’re trying to reach there and engages them with the way that is appropriate to that platform. Use your medium to help convey the message, so again using the platform to help further your message.

Let’s take a look at Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco. They are based obviously in the San Francisco area and they are a $18 million organization. Their goal was to have an authentic conversation and to fill a fundraising gap, so let me back up a little bit. In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, they wanted to be part of that conversation in a way that was true to their mission. So again, a lot of organizations were getting a lot of publicity. ACLU, Planned Parenthood. People were just throwing money at these organizations in reaction to the presidential reaction and so Habitat wanted a way to really raise their profile there and be part of that conversation. There’s an annual giving day in San Francisco that has been running for years. It was a good time to tap in and ask people for money in the wake of that election and help set their expected revenue projection. So they were really going to run this through the giving day campaign and then that event got canceled. Such a surprise. So suddenly they were going to have this fundraising gap and they were going to have something they had planned to raise money from in their year was suddenly gone. So they were going to have to make up that money that they expected to make during the giving day in some other way. So they went and basically did it on their own, they ran their own campaign to fill that fundraising gap. And another thing that was happening for them at the time was that they were in affordable housing in San Francisco, which is very difficult to begin, and they didn’t have any building projects at that time. So they couldn’t really talk about the building projects they had going on. There was a little bit of a gap there and so they still needed to raise money without raising money for specific projects. So that was a little bit of a challenge as well.

They developed the I Stand With My Neighbor campaign and so again, they’re trying to engage in that political conversation that was happening in a way that was in alignment with their brand and their local needs. So they really wanted to surface up this idea of being a good neighbor, and what that can look like, and how that ties into their mission of building homes for people. So tapping into the Mr. Rogers quote, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor, would you be mine?”. They’re really showcasing their work in the neighborhoods of San Francisco. This image is from one of their clients as well as one of their volunteers or staff members that comes in and does work on that client’s home and so apparently this is actually not a staged image. You might think it’s staged that they would be holding hands and walking down the street, but apparently this is something they do pretty regularly together. So they knew that, they took a photo of that, and tapped into it and again he’s wearing the Habitat t-shirts to tie into that idea of neighborly experience.

So they launched this campaign using social, web, and email and you’ll notice that the imagery ties in. You’ll see how it’s the same here, it has that same look and feel. Again, they’re using clients and people from Habitat, saying “I stand with my neighbors”. So that’s the message they’re using, I stand with my neighbor at a time when many people were worried about that and worried about vulnerable portions of our population not getting the attention and their needs met. So they developed this campaign in lots of different ways. You’ll see how consistent it is and again, really pushing for a goal of $20,000. Keeping people updated on where they were, letting them know that their donation could be matched. You know, see how all of this works together. So if I see it on email and then I see it on social later, I know it’s the same campaign.

They were also driving traffic to a landing page on their website that was specifically for the campaign. One thing that’s interesting that they did is you could donate, that is certainly a call to action, they also had this 7 week pledge to further community beyond your own doorstep. Research shows that when you ask people to do something small and then ask them to do something big, they’re more likely to do the big thing because they’ve already done the small thing. So that’s something that you’ll see play out. A lot of times with pledges, people signing, things like that, petitions.

So they asked people to sign the 7 week pledge and here’s how it played out. In the first week of the 7 week pledge, people were getting an email every week. They got an intro email asking them to share the campaign. That’s something they’re asking of you in week 1, share the campaign on social. In week 2, they’re asking you to take a stand for your neighbors through petitions and local advocacy. Understanding what’s happening in the space of affordable housing in San Francisco. Third week was acts of kindness. Asking people to connect through kind gestures. Giving examples of kind gestures that we could pass along to our neighbors. Four was emergency preparedness. Making sure that we have emergency preparation plans in place, in our homes, and also making sure our neighbors have that as well, and if they don’t, helping them to put together emergency preparedness kits. Especially in a place like San Francisco where they have earthquakes. Five was environmental awareness. Opportunities to preserve and beautify communities. So opportunities for beautification projects in neighborhoods and then also looking out for what your neighbors might need. Sixth week was celebrating diversity and not just needing our neighbors, but really understanding their perspectives. How they might be different from ours. Learning about just the unique diversities of our neighborhoods. And the 7thweek was a summary email. So you’ve gone through 6 weeks now. They have not asked you for an ask and then right there in that last week, they included a donation ask and they also invited you to share what you love most about your neighborhood and they would use that information in their campaign as well. So you’ll notice that 7 weeks of action, the last one is the donation ask.

The results, they raised 50% above their stated goal. 38% of their donors were new donors, so that was a really big change for them and again, a great way to increase the numbers of donors in the organization. Interestingly, 42% of their volunteers participated. That’s something that I think we all sort of struggle with. Many of us have a hard time converting our volunteers to actual monetary donors because they say “well I’m donating, I’m just donating my time”. We often want them to donate their treasure as well, so this was a great campaign for getting volunteers to participate because again, we were having the soft ask up front of the 7 weeks of action. And they had averaged a 30% open rate on the email campaign, which is huge for any of us that deal with email marketing. We know that that’s a big number.

So some takeaways for this campaign. Consider having actionable items besides giving. What small action can you ask people to do ahead of asking them to give. Engage your new donor bases. So think about ways to engage volunteers. Sometimes asking them for something smaller first might be a way to get them in the door, in a new way. Don’t be afraid to try out new language. For them, this was brand new. They were trying to start a conversation around- or being part of the conversation around the election. Wanting to have a president there, but they’re not the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or anyone else that was in the headlines. So how could they- they had to try something new and the “stand with your neighbor” language was new in order to tap into that conversation.

And then, I want to show you- I think this is the last one, but I want to talk about you asking yourself, are you willing to take the risk or be bold with your fundraising communications? A lot of times the answer is no for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s that it would never pass the approval of your boss or you’re not really sure what that even looks like, but I love asking this question just because you think a little bit differently about the possibilities and what risk actually looks like for your org.

So this next plan could have been considered a high risk campaign. This is for the Animal Protective Association of Missouri, they’re a smaller organization. They have about a $2 million budget. They’re an animal shelter in Saint Louis. They adopt out about 3,500 animals a year, so pretty big organization in that regard and their goal was to increase senior dog adoptions. You’ll notice this was not started as a fundraising campaign, really their goal was to increase how quickly senior dogs came in and out of the organization. It was a very timely campaign. It was launched in late March and so it’s been running for about a year now, so they got some good numbers. It was primarily an awareness campaign as I noted and just keep in mind those could really morph and adapt themselves into fundraising campaigns. We’ll talk a little bit about that.

So they launched in March on National Puppy Day and the campaign is the Grown-Ass Adult campaign and so you’ll notice they launched on Puppy Day with a happy hour benefiting the senior dogs at APA. So the way this campaign manifested itself was through the use of images that say- like for example, this one says “When you kiss me, you’re not kissing all the poop I’ve also kissed because I’m a grown ass adult”, “I won’t try to rip the squeaker out of your throat pillows because I’m a grown ass adult”, “Get a dog, who gets you. Adopt adult”. So again, just highlighting the things that makes adult dogs really special and different and maybe better than puppies. So these say “I’m well trained. So is my bladder. Because I’m a grown-ass adult.” and “I like to sleep through the night. I’ll bet you do too. Because I’m a grown-ass adult”. This idea was actually generated from the marketing committee on their board so good ideas can come from anywhere. Like I said earlier, you don’t have to hire an agency if you’ve got creative ideas within your organization. Maybe that’s all you need. They did come up with the idea on the committee and then they hired an agency to actually see the idea through, so they did outsource a portion of this.

They had an overwhelmingly positive response. Some of you may be wondering about the use of the word “ass” in the campaign. They did have a few older board members who kind of expressed some hesitation about the campaign and they just sort of shared the message that if this campaign is not right for you, there will be another one that will love to have you participate in. So just have an answer ready if you’re going to try something really risky and there’s certain people that don’t like it because you know, there will be. One more, “I’m mature enough to know the difference between a tennis ball and cashmere. Because I’m a grown-ass adult”. So you can see how all of these were used. They’re using real dogs from the shelter and so it’s just lends that authenticity to the campaign and it makes you laugh out loud. It gets people to react, which again is what we’re trying to get them to do in order to make them care. They had posters they were selling. They sold these at the happy hour and online later. Just some views of how they were used there. Again, they’ve got a big idea and they’re using it in lots of different ways. They also sold t-shirts, which is great.

So this launched March last year and then about 6 months later, they actually launched a cat campaign. So same struggle with senior cats and getting them adopted. I’ll read a couple of these. “I understand the value of listening. And the value of a new light fixture. Because I’m a grown-ass adult”, “You don’t have to worry whether your throw pillows are in danger. Because I’m a grown-ass adult”, “I know chemistry is important. So is space.”. So very cat-like right? And so they launched this campaign- they actually launched it with a short little video that showed the dogs and then a little cat paw came in and scratched out “dog” and put “cat”. So they were kind of taking over the campaign, which was fun. We’re sold to the overarching campaign. They had a lot of PR outreach and news stories, I’ll share this anecdote on the dog campaign. One of the first people who shared the campaign, they shared it publicly, woke up to 8000 plus Facebook notifications. That’s how quickly this thing got shared from that first post because it’s great. I noticed it. I follow a couple of dog organizations and I kept seeing- and actually it wasn’t just there, I kept seeing in in other places too, but I saw it pop up in my Facebook feed a couple times in the first week and about the time I see something 2 or 3 times is about the time I take notice. So this just reached a lot of people. In that first week, they had over 500,000 views and tens of thousands of shares, so over half a million views in the first week. That is impactful.

Some of the results. In the first 10 days, they had over 30,000 social shares. I shared with you the 500,000 reach on Facebook. That’s in 10 days. Super Fast. A 254% increase in the Facebook followers and overarchingly a decrease of 35% in the time it takes for adult dogs to be adopted, so they are moving through the shelter much faster, which is good for everyone. They did not have solid donation numbers when I followed up on this, but they have said that they have gotten donations from all over the country, again because the campaign just stretched far and wide. They are also looking into potential partnerships with other organizations to spread the campaign further and they’ve had a much easier time getting corporate sponsors within St. Louis who have all seen the campaign and want to be tied into the mission and the recognition that’s happening with the campaign.

Some takeaways. Don’t be afraid to be bold and take risks. Is this the only campaign they latched throughout the year? No, it’s not. They took a particular campaign. They took a chance on it to see what would happen and obviously it was successful. Again, I mentioned we would see creativity. It goes a long way. People interact with things that make them react and this makes you laugh and sort of have that moment of recognition. Just think about how you can use creativity to get attention and to further your mission. Again, content is what makes people care. The reason they laugh is that “I’m a grown-ass adult” line, so think about how you can do that, and then you might get overwhelmed. I was really impressed because I reached out to APA probably 2 weeks after the campaign had launched. They were in the thick of it, getting requests left and right. They immediately reached out to me, I was so impressed, but they were overwhelmed with the response. And so you just have to know, we can’t always plan for these things, but when something really takes off, you’re going to have to shift around some priorities and give it the attention it deserves.

Some quick recap throughout the webinar, let’s talk about what we learned. You want to speak to audiences in their voice. You want to use language that is authentic to them. You want to use language that is going to grab their attention and that lives in their world. Be creative, I can’t emphasize this enough. Creative ideas can come from anywhere and they can be just about anything, whether it’s how you use a platform or the language that you use. Creativity is key. Help others fundraise for you. I used the example of Literacy First and how they gave their board members the materials they needed to raise money for them. If you’re not doing that, think about what you can be giving your board members to make it really easy for them, or your campaigners if you’ve got that. Thank and thank again. You really cannot thank enough. Just like people have to see a dozen messages to finally get the message, they have to be thanked a lot of times in a lot of different ways. A lot of risk taking can go a long way. Think about how you can use risk within your organization. If you’ve got people in your org that are adverse to risk, which we know happens all the time, make sure that you are fostering conversations around risk. That may be one of the first things that you do. Maybe you don’t come up with a campaign idea and push it. Maybe you start talking about how you can implement a little bit of bold thinking into the org. Showing them examples of things that have been bold and really worked.

Got some tools for you guys available at our website, We’ve got a marketing campaign template that might be really helpful if you are thinking about a new campaign. It’s going to ask all the questions you need to think about ahead of time to make sure you’re prepped and planned. And then we’ve also got a fundraising campaign metrics template that you can download. It’s got all kinds of great metrics for things you might want to track. You can pick and choose what you track there. Those are free and on our site, Also want to let you know in the summer of 2019, we’re going to be giving away $25,000 in free marketing services. That grant window is open from June 3rdto July 19, 2019. You can sign up today to get information about it or to apply at, so that is available to you. And that includes all different kinds of services including research, content, design, any number of things. You may also be listening to this outside of the grant window and if that’s the case, pretty sure it will be back every year.

You can get these slides and anything else you need at There’s a page dedicated to these slides for this presentation and then I mentioned there’s templates and tools. Thanks for your time and let’s get to work on those great fundraising campaigns. See you next time.

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