How to launch a successful ice bucket challenge

fundraising, FUNdraising Good Times, ice-bucket challenge, fundraising infrastructure, annual giving, social media fundraisingLast week we focused on the excitement – and revenue! – generated by the ALS Foundation’s “ice bucket challenge.” We’re talking millions and millions of dollars. And we imagine your nonprofit organization or college is thinking “why didn’t we think of that?!” Or maybe a board member has approached your executive or development director with a request launch your own challenge.

Here’s our two cents: make sure your fundraising fundamentals are in place. We are talking about things such as a board gives and fundraises. Thanking people within 48 hours. Using a donor management system to track gifts, pledges, relationships and interactions. A case for support that defines your vision, what you are raising money for, how the funds will be used, and what the impact will be.

If you are thinking about a “challenge” you want go globally social you may need to consider a few other items. These include: what do you want donors to do and why? What will motivate donors to give and share your message? How will you succinctly communicate your uniqueness, value and impact? What structure will you put in place to launch and monitor your challenge? Who within your network has strong social media networks they are willing to engage? Who has strong in-person networks to engage for events that energize supporters and engage new ones? Who will kick-start your challenge? What are your media connections? Which celebrity can provide a jumpstart? What will be the “buzz?” There are so many social giving campaigns: what will make yours stand out? What about donor benefits? What can you offer donors as an incentive to give at increasing levels? Say $100 instead of $25?

Regarding infrastructure: how will you respond? Do you have technology in place that can automatically respond with a thank you and tax receipt? Do you have people in place to look each day at who is giving, what level they are giving at, and to reach out with a personal touch – a phone call or personal email – to say thank you? Do you have patience, persistence and a “plan b?” Using a “if you build it, they will come” approach to your challenge would be a recipe for “un-success.” Having a plan to promote your challenge – and consistently working your plan – can increase your chances of success. Concurrently working an alternative plan to raise the money you seek from your challenge will be critical to ensuring your organization or institution meets its fundraising goal. Most importantly, if your challenge is successful, what will be your plan to convert your “challenge” donor into one who will support your organization for years to come? Do you have the capacity and infrastructure to nurture and grow your “challenge” donors? Will they become one-time donors or life-time donors?

Photo credit: PeopleAlerts.com

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success” and “The Fundraiser’s Guide to Soliciting Gifts.” They provide fundraising counsel to nonprofits. Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com. Follow them on Twitter: @saadshaw.

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