How to Build an Audience for Fundraising Campaigns

How to Build an Audience for Fundraising Campaigns

Building and using an email list can be an extremely effective way to fundraise for your nonprofit. In this article, we are going to go over some methods to build an audience for fundraising campaigns.  

  • Defining your audience 
  • Social Media Blasts/Advertising
  • Document your process
  • Thank everyone! 
  • Actively participate in groups 
  • Give value
  • incentivize the share 
  • Send out industry-relevant news 

Before you build an audience for fundraising, define it so you understand who you are trying to reach.

Okay so, this may seem a little silly, but get yourself a piece of paper and some drawing tools. We are going to draw your ideal donor or a member of the audience you are trying to reach. 

Bringing our perfect donor to life with art will help with two significant aspects of your new marketing campaign. Having a visual reminder of the “person” you are trying to reach will help keep efforts focused. The process of creating the ideal customer or donor in your head may help develop new ways of connecting with similar people.  

When we start marketing, often we have a singular point of vision. For a charity, this means we hyper-focus on our mission. Let’s use the YMCA as an example:

 The YMCA mission is to build strong kids, individuals, families, and communities through programs and services that promote a healthy spirit, mind, and body for all, regardless of ability to pay.

If we were starting the YMCA, and looking to build an audience for our shiny new nonprofit, the knee jerk reaction might be to focus on the obvious, families with kids.  

This kind of focus isn’t wrong, but these are surface qualities and will limit your reach.  

When you draw out your ideal donor or the person you are trying to reach, you develop new ways of reaching that person as part of the process.   

Here is my example of a YMCA donor: 

35-year-old woman, three kids, ages 5-10, two boys and a girl. The boys like Under Armor clothing because all their friends are wearing it right now. The girl, the youngest is mommy’s best friend, and enjoys anything her older brothers like, currently the idea of four-wheelers and someday playing for the Patriots. Mom works at the local hospital as a nurse practitioner, three days on two days off, and on the weekends, the whole family enjoys hiking and camping.  

I did this off the cuff, and I could go on and on developing this fictitious person. Try it yourself, in print, or as an actual drawing. Do this exercise a few times, and you’ll end up with a few different examples. The point is to give your marketing a target; it will help in the development of copy material, add costs, and the overall effectiveness of your campaigns.  

Now that I have a visual image of the person I am trying to reach, I can save money and effort by being more direct.   

  • I can target people who buy under armor
  • I can target day hikers or weekend campers

I have found ways of reaching people who may be interested in the YMCA by developing a picture of who I am trying to contact.  

Build a Following by Document your Process

Documenting your process is a great way to develop content for your site or social pages. Along the way documenting will attract people to your cause.  

What do I mean by documenting? I mean write everything you have done in a blog or social post (or both) so that people can feel like they are part of the process.  

Finally finished the logo today for our new outreach program! We decided to keep it simple, and we used lots of shades of purple because, well, it looks fantastic! Tell us what you think!  

Always finish up with a link for more information or to subscribe to your email list, social profile, or whatever you are using to keep in touch with your people.  

Document often, on a schedule and document everything, and you will end up building an engaged audience that loves what you have to say.  

Don’t forget to thank everyone! 

I am not just talking about thanking people who donate – or who subscribe to your email list. Thank people who follow your social profile, thank people who comment, thank, thank, thank…think of it as reverse engagement. Thanking people makes them feel good, but it also humanizes you, proves you’re an active participant in your mission.  

Actively participate in groups.

If you look on Facebook and search by keyword, you can usually find several groups that may relate well to your mission. Searching for groups or existing audiences is where defining your ideal customer beforehand can help. For instance, using our example for the YMCA, we could find a group of Under Armour lovers or hikers.  

Do not join a group on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to blast out your agenda. Take the time to be an active member, answer questions, make comments on pictures; in other words, be a valued member of the community.

The Advantage of Facebook Groups

When somebody is part of a group, any activity on that group ends up in their news feed. Facebook pages rely heavily on advertisements, showing very little automatically to followers. An Engaged group is far more valuable than a business page in regards to marketing.

Incentivize the Share

We’ve all seen posts on our social media where there is an incentive to share. Usually, the motivation is a prize or a gift card carried out in something like a random drawing. We see contests or share to win promotions often because it is an effective way to get engagement on a post.

Giving people an incentive to comment or share your post is a great way to reach new people that may not be part of your immediate circle. Consider targeting a specific person, that person can share with another who would share to another. Soon you are marketing to someone two or three degrees separated from your initial Target.

An incentive doesn’t always need to be a gift card or a physical item. The motivation could be a be an ask or a call to action. You might say something like, help us by entering your email and sharing with Friends. The incentive in this sentence is that they are supporting a cause that hopefully, they believe in, and they get to have ownership in your mission or purpose by participating.

Give Value to your Target Audience

Create good original content for your audience. Most of your posts, most of your interactions should be something of value to the customer. Have eight or nine value posts for every marketing post. By providing more value, then propositions, you are giving a reason for people to trust you and subscribe to what you have to say.

Send out Industry-Relevant News

Providing decent value in your post doesn’t always mean that you have to be the authority on the subject. Finding industry-relevant news or news relevant to your mission is a great way to engage followers. Sharing relevant content from other sources also has the added benefit of gaining new followers from the source audience. Just make sure to appropriately credit any content you share, this way everyone wins. 

Built correctly, and engaged audience can be one of the most valuable assets of an organization. An email subscriber list is something you can go back to time and time again as a nonprofit asking for support. A social audience is something you can go back to when you need extra reach or grow your audience. is a website supporting charities and nonprofits. Through trial and error, we have learned how to overcome some of the obstacles and problems a new nonprofit might face. We hope that through documenting some of our process and how we were able to overcome these obstacles, we can help new nonprofits be more successful along the way. 

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