TrueSense Marketing  ●  9/12/2018

5 Key Creative Ingredients for a Winning Fundraising Campaign


If you’re one of those fundraisers who gets excited by the creative work, this excerpt from The Fundraising Field Guide — dedicated to the creative secret sauce — is for you. Like any good chef knows, the foundation of a winning dish is a winning recipe. Similarly, there are 5 key creative ingredients for a winning fundraising campaign. Do you have these in your recipe book?


Let’s jump right in with an ingredient many organizations struggle with. Because this is a big one. It’s no small thing for a donor to part with their hard-earned money. They simply won’t do it if the need for those funds isn’t obvious. Consider this: If you’re told that children in this country are starving, but you’re shown a picture of a smiling, happy child with a full plate of food — doesn’t that feel a little disingenuous?

As fundraisers, it can sometimes feel like you’re mandated to follow a brand that requires happy, healthy pictures and stories where nobody hurts or suffers. But need is what triggers emotional reactions and inspires action. It’s the problem that allows a solution. And need is what leads to a compelling offer.



Speaking of a compelling offer … this is the most critical ingredient for a winning campaign. If your offer isn’t right, your campaign is doomed. You can set up need beautifully. You can put together the perfect target list of people primed to give to your organization. But if you don’t make that gift meaningful by telling them how you’ll use their dollars to make a positive change in the world, it will fail.

So how do you come up with your offer? There’s no easy answer, and sometimes it requires a lot of testing and a lot of patience. In general, the more specific you can be, the better your campaign will perform. In other words, “Your gift of X will do Y.” Have a match or a multiplier available? Use them as often as you can. Donors just don’t get tired of them.



You’ve established need. You’ve crafted an offer. Now it’s time to get your donor to take action. Ask for that gift early. Then ask again. And just for good measure, ask one more time. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

Here’s another tip: Don’t confuse your donor by asking them to do too many things. Sure, who doesn’t love a good engagement device like a heartfelt note or stickers for children? But don’t overdo it. If you’re asking your donor to sign a petition, and return a note, and tell a friend, and oh, by the way, donate … you’ve lost them.

Make sure your response device or donation form is easy to follow and restates the offer. Keep it simple and focused on the action that’s most important to you.



Ready for two of the most powerful words in fundraising? “Thank you.” A little gratitude goes a long way. Nobody wants to feel like an ATM. They want to feel appreciated and important, because … well … they are important. Mention their previous gift if they’re existing donors, and tell them how impactful it was.

Thank them in advance for that generous gift you know they are about to give (because that’s just the kind of people they are). When it comes to thanking, you really can’t overdo it.



Think of how annoying it is when a call gets disconnected mid-conversation. Or when you’re interrupted in a meeting before you can make your point. You feel incomplete. Don’t do that to your donors. Finish strong. Restate your offer, make your case one final time, and ask for that gift.


P.S. — Don’t forget the P.S.! It’s a great way to quickly capture for donors and prospects what you’re asking them to do. Because let’s face it: Hardly anyone reads the whole letter.



fundraisingfieldguide-1This is an excerpt from our newly published Fundraising Field Guide.

Fundraisers have long sought to find and cultivate those with heroic human hearts who want to turn their compassion into action. Along the way, fundraisers have also learned lessons, honed skills, and crafted techniques that — in the end — are framed by basic human behaviors and motivations.

Get your copy of the complete compendium of tried-and-true tactics for conquering the fundraising frontier, written by TrueSense Marketing’s fundraising experts.


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