Organising regular and ongoing campaigns and activities throughout the year is critical to the success of many charities. They provide an opportunity for essential funds to be raised, volunteers to be engaged and also awareness of the organisation’s mission to be increased. But understanding how best to manage these campaigns can be challenging, time consuming and difficult to measure in terms of the return on investment (ROI).
Having a process in place so that you can manage your campaigns effectively is crucial to running your charitable organisation in the most efficient way. This is where technology can play a crucial role. The benefits this could bring to your charity include:
- Increased efficiency – by having set processes in place, all key stakeholders will understand what needs to happen, by when and what their specific role is. You can also automate and duplicate campaigns wherever necessary.
- Saved time – leaving your staff and volunteers with more time to concentrate on other important tasks.
- Improved data quality – managing your campaigns from one central system will allow you to gather, collate and store information about various aspects of your campaigns, including donors, volunteers, donations, spend, etc. This data can then be used to tailor subsequent communications and campaigns to your audience.
The functionality within a good customer (or volunteer) relationship management system (CRM) will enable your charity to manage campaigns effectively. Here you’ll be able to store important information related to each campaign so that if someone is off sick or leaves your organisation, anyone else can pick up where they left off. How do you best plan and manage a campaign? There are 9 steps that we recommend taking to ensure campaigns are managed in the most effective way:
- Set your objectives/goals and decide how you want to measure these – for example, if your fundraising campaign is for a fun-run and your aim is to attract new volunteers, registration numbers would be a good measurement for success. When setting up a campaign in your CRM, these details can be added in so that everyone understands what the aims are and how they will be measured.
- Define your target audience and where along the “sales” funnel they sit – the “sales” or “supporter” funnel is the process that supporters commonly go through before deciding to donate to your charity. It starts with Awareness, leads through to Evaluation and then finally to the Decision stage. You need to decide which group of supporters along the funnel you are aiming at and tailor your communications to this audience. For example, if you have a list of supporters who have only just started engaging with your charity, perhaps they have recently joined your mailing list to find out more about what you do – this group is very much at the “Awareness” stage of the funnel and need to be communicated with in a particular way. Your CRM should allow you to have different marketing lists according to how people have engaged with you.
- Identify the communication tools you want to use and formulate an appropriate plan – this depends on what tools your charity uses including social media, email marketing, direct marketing, printed materials and so on. In terms of your plan, this is the important bit as it involves making a clear schedule about what needs to be done and by when, and of course sticking to them as closely as possible. A good method is to work backwards from the date of your event so that you can include key deadlines and ensure these are met. A good CRM system should give you the ability to carry out many of your marketing tasks within the system, including email marketing, posting to social media, etc and will automatically generate reports so you can review how successful they’ve been in terms of open rates or clicks.
- Set your budget – set a realistic budget and ensure that you are likely to achieve a return on your investment, whether this be in volunteer numbers or donations. All budget information can be added to the campaign within your CRM so you can keep a close track of costs.
- Identify the resources (internal, external and third-party suppliers) you have in place to carry out tasks and what the processes are to handle each part of the campaign. Decide how many staff members and/or volunteers are required to complete each task and allocate them to the campaign within your CRM. Ensure they understand exactly what the process is for carrying out their specific task(s). For example, for printed materials will an external company be designing them or an internal person, which printing company do you need to involve, what’s the lead time to get the materials printed, will they then need distributing out to volunteers/shops, etc?
- Create your content and tailor it to your selected audience – if you are running a campaign to raise awareness of your cause to attract new supporters, then this will look completely different to a campaign that involves keeping existing supporters up to date. Tailor each piece of content, ensuring that they all have the same look and feel, and keep your selected audience in mind. Think about what the key messages are, sometimes less is more, plus always include a call to action such as “Contact us for further information” or “Register”. Email marketing functionality within your CRM should allow you to automate many of your communications, saving you valuable time.
- Test your content to see if it resonates with a small part of your audience, tweaking and altering anything that doesn’t work well. Not everything will work but you won’t know until you test it. For example, a good CRM system that has email marketing functionality will let you carry out A/B testing which involves sending two or more different emails out to a small proportion of your marketing list. The one that performs the best is then sent out to the rest of the list. Performance can be based on open rates or clicks usually, but this is a great opportunity to test different subject headings, content, etc to see what resonates with your audience.
- Roll out the campaign and measure the results. Once all of the above has been carried out, you’re ready to launch your campaign. But it’s not just a case of pressing the “Go” button. You need to constantly monitor all aspects of the campaign in order to check its success and track the results. Within your CRM you should be able to report on the results to your key stakeholders. Once the campaign has finished, this is the perfect opportunity to review its performance. What worked well, which processes need refining, where can improvements be made, what needs changing. You then have a tried and tested campaign that can be duplicated or adapted for the next occasion.
- Use the data to inform future activities. Learn from the data you have collected from the campaign and use it to shape future communications and campaigns. Understanding how contacts want to be communicated with will help you to attract and retain more supporters by gaining their trust.
Authored by Jenny Tomlinson – Marketing Manager