7 Online Fundraising Tips I Learned By Participating in Movember

For the past 30 days I have been participating in Movember: a worldwide team fundraising campaign to fight men’s cancer. While the dogooder in me loves a great cause, I also relish the opportunity to learn more about online fundraising and why people give. It was interesting seeing which platform (Facebook, Twitter, email, face-to-face, etc.) was the most effective, and what type of message generated the most giving. So now that it’s over, I wanted to share some thoughts that might help you and your nonprofit.

Wait, Go Back: What is Movember Again?

Movember is a fundraiser that challenges men to change their appearance by growing a mustache. The rules are simple: start November 1st clean-shaven and then grow a mustache for the entire month. The mustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. For most men, growing a mustache generates a lot of comments, conversation, and laughter – which is the point! Money is raised by participants and goes directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Livestrong Foundation.

Using Movember.com as a home base, participants are encouraged to use their email contacts, work colleagues, social networks, and any other means to promote the cause and raise money. If you check out my page, you can see that the entire campaign was run online. This gave me a great place to experiment with some different fundraising and communication tactics.

What I Learned About Online Fundraising

  • Email is Still King
    I know social media is a bright shiny toy right now, but it’s still playing second fiddle to email when it comes to soliciting online donations. While my initial social media campaign generated plenty of interest and a few donations, I was shocked at how quickly people responded to my email. Within 20 minutes of sending the first email I had 5 donations, and another 5 by the next morning. And the average gift was larger.
  • Segmentation Matters
    Part of the reason my email campaign was successful was because I had carefully selected my list of recipients. While my email list included some of the social media friends I was already reaching via other channels, it contained mostly relatives, parent’s friends, and classmates who typically do not see my Twitter and Facebook activity. Make sure you are segmenting your audience when sending out communications – different strokes for different folks!
  • Multimedia Tells the Story
    Early on, it became clear that photos and videos could make or break a Movember campaign. When I posted an updated pic on Facebook, I received a lot of likes and comments, but also a donation or two. A heavily commented photo will show up in people’s news feeds (because of all the activity), which can really help promote the message. I could post photos on my giving page, via the Movember iPhone app, and we were definitely encouraged to use them on Twitter and everywhere else. If photos and videos can help tell your campaign’s story, make sure they are front and center and available to your supporters.
  • Sample Communications Really Help
    For most fundraising event participants like me, asking for donations can be a bit awkward. Movember did a really good job of providing sample text for emails, pre-written tweets, and great facts  to use in Facebook status updates. These examples really helped get the ball rolling in early November, and I was very thankful they were there. So if you’re doing a team fundraising event, advocacy campaign, or anything where you’re asking supporters to reach out to their networks, be sure to provide some sample emails, tweets, and Facebook updates on your website.
  • Being a Tease Helps
    One of the most effective tactics was to promise a reward to my supporters if I met intermediate goals. For instance, I promised to change my Facebook avatar to one featuring my baby mustache if I hit the $250 mark by the end of the day – it worked. Lots of my fellow Mo bros had the same experience – they teased their supporters and rewarded them when they gave.
  • People Give for Different Reasons
    It seems like people are motivated to give for very different reasons. Some people gave to my campaign because of a family member who had prostate cancer, while others gave because they wanted to support me. One person gave me $100 just because I shot her a funny look when she asked to see my stache. The point is that you have to really think about who your audience is and what makes them want to give. Then draft you online communications to resonate with those audiences.
  • Good Technology is Key
    The entire Movember experience would have been challenging if it wasn’t for their great website and fundraising platform. Having the user experience nailed down is critical to the success of an online campaign, and solid technology is a big a part of that. Think through your goals and tech needs before planning your campaign, and make sure everything is tested and ready to go when it begins.

I know to most of you experienced online fundraisers that stuff may seem basic, but they are good reminders of best practices we can all use in our online fundraising campaigns. And while online giving only accounts for ~6% of total giving, its importance will only increase in the future. The nonprofits that know how to reach an online audience and make them act will  be the most successful.

And don’t forget that reaching out via your blog is always smart – and Movember doesn’t end until December 15th, so I’m still accepting donations. (c:

Do you have any online fundraising tips you’d like to share?

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  • http://www.LESSllc.com Sandy Wilder

    GREAT stuff, Chad!!! Thanks for sharing, and congratulations on your success!

  • http://twitter.com/chadnorman Chad Norman

    Thanks Sandy – it was a very rewarding experience on many levels, and I learned a lot. Though, I’m excited to not be growing any facial hair again for 11 months!

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