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By Kelly Velasquez-Hague

If your nonprofit is considering starting an awareness campaign, you’re entering a great space where you can educate people about your cause—but you’re also entering a competitive space.

First, let’s start with some basic information: What is an awareness campaign?

Awareness campaigns are typically based around a wider awareness day, week, or month. They are one of the most popular ways to educate people about your nonprofit and a specific cause.

If you want to make your nonprofit stand out from others promoting the same cause, try following these strategies for putting on an effective campaign:

  1. Do your research.
  2. Choose the right date.
  3. Find your target audience.
  4. Craft your campaign message.
  5. Secure sponsors and ambassadors.
  6. Use multiple channels.
  7. Optimize your donation site.

An awareness campaign can’t get started without the right planning and resources. Are you ready to take a closer look at these ideas surrounding your campaign launch? Let’s get started!

1. Do your research

The first part of starting an effective awareness campaign is doing your research. While awareness days are fairly common, it’s important that you find the right one that fits your mission. Otherwise, you won’t get as much attention as you might hope.

While doing your research, you should:

  • Observe other charitable campaigns. Note what they’re doing well and what you could do even better.
  • Determine the type of campaign you’ll run. Study your current donor information and decide what type of campaign would excite them. This could mean determining if they’re interested in annual giving or if they’re a social donor.
  • Think about long-term plans. Consider what part of your mission you want to focus on as well as the types of events your donors might support. You can also decide if you’re only trying to appeal to current donors or if you want to expand your network as well.

Doing your research before you get started is necessary so you can decide how you want to go about setting up your awareness campaign. By being observant and making some key decisions, you’ll set your campaign up for success.

2. Choose the right date

If you want to run a successful awareness campaign, choosing the right date is an essential piece of the puzzle. Your campaign should be scheduled so that your team has enough time to plan and your donors have enough time to become engaged.

Here are a couple of items to consider when choosing your date:

  • The set time frame. Usually, an awareness campaign has a set time frame you should keep in mind, which is during a larger awareness day, week, or month. Be sure your campaign coincides with the appropriate time frame.
  • The length of the campaign. Once you’ve determined the time frame during which your campaign should occur, decide how long it will run. For example, an awareness week could coincide with the length of your campaign.

Having your date correspond with a larger awareness day, week, etc. can help build awareness about your cause and will allow you to take advantage of the marketing surrounding the larger awareness period. Once your date is chosen, you’ll want to start promoting it to your target audience so that they can start planning to advance.

3. Find your target audience

Once you’ve determined the date(s) of your campaign, it’s important to determine the audience you’re targeting because this impacts how you’ll promote your campaign. Using different communication methods for different groups of donors will help you achieve a better outreach overall.

For example, if your donors are:

  • Baby Boomers or the Silent Generation: You might consider direct mail or email to perform your outreach. These more traditional audiences have a tendency to be more responsive to those methods of communication.
  • Millennial or Gen Z donors: You may want to focus on communicating through social media and/or incorporate a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Check out the OneCause guide to peer-to-peer fundraising for more information on this.

The main idea is that you want to harness the feeling of empathy from your donors. This means you should reach out to them in a way that will resonate and be easily accessible to them. Your target audience plays a huge role in how you’ll end up running your awareness campaign.

4. Craft your campaign message

After you determine who your target audience is and how you’ll reach out to them, it’s time to craft your campaign message! Your goal is to increase awareness around your particular cause, by putting forth the extra effort into fine-tuning your message.

All of this comes down to understanding the purpose of your campaign and demonstrating this purpose in your message. Just as you would communicate your purpose while sending out fundraising letters, your message should be loud and clear in your awareness campaign.

Keep these ideas in mind when crafting your message:

  • Connect it back to your overall mission. Sometimes nonprofits brand their awareness campaigns a little differently than their general message to make themselves stand out more. Be sure that your new message still connects back to your mission so that the donors who are interested in your cause will be likelier to complete their donations.
  • Make it stand out. How can you ensure that your nonprofit’s message stands out from all the others with similar awareness campaigns? You can start by making it easy for donors to connect with your nonprofit, and by reaching out on multiple platforms. From there, you’ll be able to start creating even more awareness (more on these ideas later!).

By keeping your awareness campaign’s message clear and tied to your overall charitable mission, you’ll be well on your way to having an effective campaign.

5. Secure sponsors and ambassadors

When you think of sponsors and ambassadors, it might sound like a lot more legwork than you’d like to take on. But both of these sources of support can greatly increase your donation revenue and help make your awareness campaign stand out.

Ambassador fundraising takes social fundraising up a notch, driving in more revenue by working with top supporters of a nonprofit. It can often take the form of contests, challenges, or team fundraising. Here’s how it works:

  1. Your nonprofit chooses ambassadors from among your top supporters.
  2. These ambassadors are given social fundraising tools.
  3. The ambassadors then use individual fundraising pages to secure donations from their greater networks and attract more supporters to your cause.

If you’re interested in learning more about this process, the OneCause guide to ambassador fundraising is a great place to start.

In addition to selecting ambassadors, be sure to secure sponsors as well. Partnering up with a sponsor can help you stand out from other nonprofits who are running awareness campaigns for the same cause. Try reaching out to local businesses or celebrities, or even a radio station, so that you can drive in more revenue from their customers or listeners.

From there, consider running a t-shirt fundraiser as part of your campaign (with the help of a platform like this!) and list the sponsors on your t-shirts for extra exposure.

6. Use multiple channels

As we’ve touched on already, it’s important to determine how you want to communicate with your supporters. When it comes to marketing and promoting your awareness campaign, it is helpful to use multiple channels for outreach.

Consider using:

  • Social media
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Phone calls

That said, you want to ensure you’re meeting your supporters on the platforms they’re using. For that reason, once you find your target audience, determine what they use most effectively. If you discover that they’re more responsive to social media outreach, much of your focus should go toward using social media platforms. A large digital trend this year is social listening, so sending out surveys to your supporters is also a great way to learn what they use.

Using multiple channels to reach out can have a greater impact on your fundraising results than if you only focused on one or two. Just be sure to use the platforms your supporters are most actively a part of and promote your awareness campaign through those channels.

7. Optimize your donation site

In preparation for your awareness campaign, there’s one more part that needs to fit in: there must be an easy way for supporters to make a donation! If you want to streamline this process, try using an online donation platform that offers the following features:

  • Customization, so you can brand and embed the form into your website and determine the donor data you want to collect.
  • Mobile optimization, so donors can easily give from their mobile devices.
  • Analytics, so you can gather reports and data on the donations you’ve received.

If you want to engage your website visitors, make sure your donation page is optimized and easy to use. Stand out from the crowd with a simple process that minimizes donor shopping cart abandonment and encourages your supporters to give.

Starting an awareness campaign can seem like a daunting task, but if you bring in the right resources and do your research, there’s a lot you can achieve during the time frame. Try out these strategies to get you started on your best campaign yet!

About the Author

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors raise more funds for their cause.