Choosing media for your year-end fundraising campaign

This post is part of my year-fundraising series. This fall, you can follow along here to receive training and tools that will help you launch your own year-end fundraising campaign. The lessons I'm offering are best for small nonprofits (five or fewer employees). Ready for an amazing and successful Giving Season? Rock 'n' roll.

If you’re following along with the Merry Year-End Fundraising program, you now know:

  • With whom you need to communicate (partners, friends, acquaintances, and “friendly strangers”).

  • What you need to communicate (your message).

  • Why to communicate (your year-end fundraising goal)

Now it’s time to answer the question: Where will you communicate and how?

This is the media question.

Media (plural for “medium”) are what you use to send your message to your supporters.

Media are also what your supporters use to send their response.

Media “going” and “coming” are equally important to your year-end fundraising campaign.

So, by “media” I mean things like:

  • Email

  • Events

  • Face-to-face visits over coffee

  • Letters

  • Phone calls

  • Social media posts

  • Text messages

  • Web pages

By “media,” I also mean things like:

  • Online donation tools

  • Pledge cards

  • Return envelopes

  • Text-to-give

The media you choose make a big difference. Choose the best media for the people with whom you’re communicating and you can raise a lot of money for your small nonprofit.

Choose the wrong media and it can be like flushing energy, money, and time down the toilet.

Over many years of trial and (mostly) error, I came up with three rules of thumb for choosing media:

  1. Form follows function and function follows the path of least resistance.

  2. Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition.

  3. Choose your media based on cost-effectiveness

If you follow these rules of thumb when choosing media for your year-end fundraising campaign, you’ll raise more support and it will cost you less energy, money, and time.

Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Rule #1: Form follows function and function follows the path of least resistance.

The function of your media is to make it easy and enjoyable for your supporters to give.

When choosing and designing your media for your year-end fundraising campaign, continually ask whether the media makes it easy and fast for your supporters to:

It is easy to confuse media with the message. The best media cannot do what a good message can do. You need to do the work to discover the right message. The last lesson/post was about letting your supporters design your message for you.

It is also easy to confuse media with the relationship you have with your supporter. The car you drive to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving is not your relationship with Grandma; it is merely the medium you use to enable you to have that relationship.

So many small nonprofits try to make media do things media are not meant to do. This is function following form. If you do the work to build relationships with your supporters and to find the message that means the most to them, you can let a medium be what it really is: The car you drive to Grandma’s house.

The form your year-end fundraising media take should follow their function. The function of your media is to be a path of least resistance for people to follow in support of your small nonprofit.

Again: Choose media that make it easy, fast, and fun for your supporters to understand, imagine, and take action.

Rule #2: Repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition!