By Chris Carter

We’re switching things up. A lot of people talk about channels: their social strategy, their direct mail campaign, their year-end email. Much of the time it comes down to silos, since one person is working on one channel and someone else on another.

Here at Candela we want to think bigger, break down silos, and make the campaign a priority over any individual channel or ask. What does this mean? Campaign First means thinking about the campaign message, ask and target audience before considering how to share it with supporters. Campaign First means thinking holistically about how to achieve this, bringing together teams, goals and metrics, budgets, timelines and the right mix of approaches to ensure it gets done right. Most importantly, Campaign First means abandoning an old way of thinking (siloed departments, e.g. between online and offline, or fundraising and marketing) and embracing a new way of thinking (not prioritizing one approach such as digital or direct mail instead of making use of every tool) in order to get the best result for your organization.

In our work with nonprofits, we see time and time again that the Campaign First method delivers: more leads, more funds raised, more supporters, and more return on investment. We want every nonprofit to raise money so they can deliver on their mission and help make the world a better place every day. Here are 10 steps to be Campaign First, and how we can help.

1 Do your research: A data audit and database cleanup help you make the most of your data, allowing you to find what you’re looking for, to quickly query to make sense of your data, and to leverage insights when planning. A survey can help you determine what sets your donors apart so you can better target new audiences who are most likely to donate. A cluster analysis and FSA saturation can illuminate geographic insights, with survey data further refining your targeting, getting your campaign off to a strong start.

2 Build personas and patterns: Personas are composites of people who are most likely to become donors to your organization, as researched from your donor data. By analyzing your database, we determine the demographic info, interests and personalities of people you should target for fundraising campaigns and lead generation, ensuring efficient use of your campaign resources to maximize results. Patterns identify what channels and steps typically lead to first gift, upgrade, monthly giving and planned giving, to determine where to find potential donors and then provide timely communications to support the donor journey.

3 Clarify your messaging: It’s crucial in a successful campaign to clearly communicate what makes your charity’s mission important and what messaging results in a successful call to action, as well to understand what sets your organization apart from others in the same vertical. Target audience focus groups and values proposition working sessions get to the heart of the matter, driving the campaign creative process.

4 Determine goals and metrics: Key to any campaign is defining: what does success look like? Establishing metrics and key performance indicators will get your campaign tactics aligned with the campaign goals and keep everyone moving toward the same vision, while not wasting resources on secondary actions.

5 Establish budget and timeline: Integrated campaigns lead to great results, and the best campaigns have great project management. Bring all the elements and resources for the campaign together with status meetings, a project outline and budget modelling to ensure the campaign stays on track and primed for success.

6 Find the right channels: Next it’s time to consider where you are going to place your campaign. Facebook? Email? Printed newsletter? Billboards? Different placement strategies may be better for stewardship, upgrading, leads, or for first gifts. Target your campaign to align with its goals—for example, awareness, lead generation, or fundraising—based on your in-depth knowledge of your existing supporters.

7 Write and design your creative: Candela Strategies offers brand advertising, data-driven integrated communications, design, and not-for-profit strategy and creative for a wide range of organizations. Strategy comes first, to define the most relevant – most powerful – emotion. Creative must push the buttons that will elicit that emotion, delivering excellence to your campaign audience. Having a strategic alliance with for-profit advertising agencies allows our team to bring together best-in-class creative from top corporate brands combined with a non-profit strategic approach to develop award-winning campaigns.

8 Deploy the campaign!

9 Test the creative: As a full-service agency, Candela is a Blackbaud Solutions Provider and an Engaging Networks Partner, with the expertise to shepherd your campaigns from concept to deployment. As senior non-profit professionals, we know that the best information is data-driven and testing is fundamental to understanding success. It’s key to test both the tools for your campaign and variables on creative for a successful launch. Is image A more successful than image B? Does the link work correctly? Get the right pieces in place for a confident launch.

10 Review, revise and repeat: After the campaign is complete, be sure to review successes and challenges in order apply your learnings to planning the next campaign. What worked well? What tweaks were necessary? What yielded surprising results? Incorporate this into subsequent campaigns with the needed revisions to build on your successes.