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Crafting a Digital Campaign

“We’re so behind on digital fundraising… I don’t even know where to start!”

I’ve heard this phrase more times than I can count recently from development officers at conferences and workshops. There seems to be this mysterious aura around the concept of digital campaigns that really is not very mysterious at all. In fact, most people I’ve talked to have the tools and activities in place but are not coordinating them in a focused, concerted way. In this post, we’ll pull back the curtain to understand what is needed to craft a successful digital campaign.

Campaign Setup

There are three initial steps to set up a new campaign:

  1. Get the Basic Tools: You will need an online donation form to process contributions. A website landing page can provide more detail about the initiative and be used to post photos, infographics, partner logos, testimonials, progress to the goal or other components such as related events and activities. Email is the preferred communication method for a digital campaign, but you can utilize other marketing efforts in lieu of it.
  2. Identify Marketing Options: Social media platforms and online ads are two common forms of online promotion for a campaign. Others include blogs, podcasts, video and offline tools such as print (magazines, flyers), mail, and on-air. Determine the marketing support to be used for the campaign.
  3. Determine Concept: What is the theme of the campaign? Is it a Giving Tuesday effort, part of a holiday campaign, or a special day like Valentine’s or Mother’s Day? Perhaps it’s related to a national effort such as Hunger Action Month, World Cancer Day, or National Pet Month. It could also support an organizational need directly such as the creation of a new program or community initiative.


Once these pieces are in place, determine the audience. For many organizations, they will contact the full online audience for support. With others, there might be competing efforts that require segmentation. For example, if a direct mail or on-air campaign is happening at the same time, the organization might want to remove these groups from an online campaign. (Note: This is where an integrated campaign is a perfect approach. But it requires much more coordination and additional resources to be successful. Read more about integrated campaigns.)

Deployment Calendar

Determine the timing of the campaign deployment and create a calendar. The launch of the initiative will certainly start with a push utilizing most of the marketing tools: email, social, ads and possibly video or blog posts. Following the launch, you’ll need to outline the timing of the other marketing pieces to keep the audience engaged without harassing or fatiguing the donors.

A two-week campaign that includes simply email, online ads and social might look like the schedule below. An email in week one followed by social support along with an email in week two while ads runs continuously.

Basic Two-Week Digital Campaign
Basic Two-Week Digital Campaign

A more robust four-week campaign that includes the above components along with video, live-streaming, blogs posts, website popup promotion and goal updates will be more complex, as shows in the outline below.

Robust Four-Week Digital Campaign
Robust Four-Week Digital Campaign

Final Thoughts

Following the campaign, it will be important to track metrics to use as benchmarks for future campaigns. These can include total revenue, average gift size, click-through rates, video views, as well as social media likes and shares. Examining what was successful and not so successful can inform plans for improvement.

Need more help?

Download my free “Digital Fundraising Beginner’s Guide” and don’t miss my upcoming book, “The Insider’s Guide to Online Fundraising: Finding Success When Surrounded by Skeptics,” due for release in December 2019.