5 Tips for Creating A Successful Fundraising Campaign in Higher Education

by | Jan 21, 2021 | Strategy | 0 comments

Photo credit: Burst

I remember it like it was yesterday – when I received my first project in fundraising as a social media professional. Giving Tuesday was three months away. My boss asked if I could create a campaign to drive donations and awareness about getting involved in philanthropy. 

My idea. Donors pick a color corresponding bow for one of the five school divisions. Then, a member of the philanthropy team placed the corresponding colored bow on the campus statue. The school divisions could compete to see which one could garner the highest number of gifts and donation dollars. 

Results. The fundraising goal was $22,000. But, my social media efforts contributed to $43,000 raised by 584 donors.

How did I do this? 

Here are five tips for creating a successful fundraising campaign in higher education: 

1. Start early. Procrastination and fundraising never go hand and hand. Start planning for your fundraising campaign at least three to two months in advance. The best strategy for a social media plan is quality over quantity. Try posting once or twice a month leading up to the fundraising event. Then, increase posts the week and day of the event. 

2. Mix organic and paid content. Leaders at your university, usually in the philanthropy department, will provide a goal such as aiming for 20 percent of donations to be through social media referrals. Opt for a mix of organic and paid social media. Use your organic social media posts to showcase brand awareness. Find exciting ways to educate or re-educate your audience about programs that they can invest in at your university. Use your paid social media posts to showcase ROI. You create a lead generation paid campaign using emails from donors. At the end of the campaign, you receive 20 new donations through social media traffic to the Giving Tuesday landing page. 

If you don’t have a massive budget for paid social, try boosting some of your posts within your organic social media plan. Targeting allows you to get your messages to the right people, such as alumni, current donors, and employees. 

3. Customize your message on each social media platform. A one size fits all approach doesn’t work when trying to get new donors and increase donations. Every social media channel is unique and your posts should reflect that. For Facebook, you can do a longer copy or a brief testimonial. Twitter, craft a short message with a link. Instagram and YouTube use videos to tell your fundraising story.

4. Align your social media strategy with your email strategy. Aim to have your email copy and social media copy mirror one another. Keep your copy consistent whether you are going for a direct or indirect approach. Deploy messaging on social media and email on the same days and times. Let’s say you met your fundraising goal. You write a fun, engaging post to announce the results. On the same day, you send a welcome email to new donors to encourage them to join other fundraising events throughout the year. 

5. Get your community involved. Ask donors, alumni, and employees to be your ambassadors. Create a toolkit with talking points they can say in posts. Also, images that they can share on their personal social media channels. Are you in need of videos or photos for your organic or paid campaign? User-generated content (USG) will save the day. You can ask employees to take pictures of them holding up a sign with the campaign’s official hashtag. You could ask influencers at your university (such as prestigious alumni and leadership figures) to record a testimonial about why it is important to donate or why they contribute. Gather all the video testimonials and create an intriguing Stories series on Instagram or even LinkedIn. 


Headshot for Paulette Wilson, AuthorAuthor: Paulette Wilson

Paulette Wilson is a social media professional in the Mid-Atlantic. She loves all things education and arts. She has social media campaigns for brands such as Sinclair Broadcast Group, University of Baltimore, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. 

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/blkwoman2shine

Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulette-wilson/


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