SHINE for Kids’ first-ever crowdfunding campaign not only beat its target of $100,000 but also taught the charitable organisation a great deal about its donor base. Lise Taylor reports.
SHINE for Kids is a small charity that supports the needs of young Australians when a parent or family member enters the criminal justice system. Most of its funding comes from grants from private trusts and foundations, corporate donors, and local, state and federal government grants to deliver targeted services and programs. It does not receive any ongoing operational funding and is reliant on fundraising campaigns to ensure its sustainability.
Following a presentation by Charidy at the 2016 Philanthropy Australia Conference, SHINE for Kids decided Charidy’s matched funds approach to crowdfunding would suit the nonprofit’s culture and provide an opportunity to reinvigorate its usual Christmas fundraising campaign.
Setting up ‘campaign headquarters’
For the campaign, named Brighter Futures, a target of $100,000 was set by the nonprofit. Actual revenue raised was $102,705.
In running the campaign, SHINE for Kids approached its existing donor base of 924 supporters, 300 volunteers and 150 key contacts provided by its staff operating in its Child and Family Centres in Victoria, the ACT, New South Wales and Queensland. Also contacted were its corporate partners, including Gilbert + Tobin, KPMG and HESTA, which sent emails out to their staff, personal contacts and networks, and in some cases clients who had used their services.
The campaign’s marketing and communications messages (see details on left) were underpinned by consistent and clear branding, with an aim to attract new donors, and engage current donors, staff, volunteers and key stakeholders.
“Charidy provided us with the resources for the three main communications channels that were used to drive people to the website,” says Marketing Communications
& Fundraising Manager Julianne Sanders.
“These included an EDM campaign, social media with a focus on Facebook and personal outreach via telephone calls. Information about the campaign also appeared on the SHINE website and presentations were made to staff at cross-organisational meetings.”
All content was developed and scheduled prior to the 24-hour campaign starting on 14 December 2016. Execution began one week beforehand, contributing to the sense of urgency.
SHINE was guided through all aspects of the campaign with an aim that its success would be based on science (including data analysis, solid background work, campaign marketing and execution) – not luck.
On 14 December 2016 at midday the campaign went live for 24 hours at ‘campaign headquarters’ with these elements in play:
• The core campaign team consisted of four groups of head office staff working together in teams.
• A telethon style call centre was created for the 24 hours of the campaign, which was operational from 12pm to 8pm on 14 December and then from 8am to 12pm on 15 December.
• Like a mini-telethon, volunteers, staff and corporate supporters called existing donors and supporters asking them to donate.
• Volunteers were scheduled throughout this time and 30 minutes of volunteer training was provided for each shift by SHINE. The telephone volunteers were women from the Parramatta Transitional Centre, many of whom also do work experience in the SHINE office.
• Only people who had previous knowledge of or contact with SHINE were called throughout the 24 hours, which contributed to the campaign’s success.
• The telephone list totalled 1,024 numbers and all were called at least once.
• Throughout the campaign, updated contact data was collected and this has been updated in the SHINE for Kids’ systems.
“As a small nonprofit delivering frontline services, the SHINE for Kids team is not usually engaged in the fundraising arm of the business,” explains Sanders.
“This is why it was important that a detailed campaign operations and resourcing plan be developed and the core team led through the execution of each area of their roles. One of the biggest challenges was accessing social media channels under the strict security of SHINE’s IT systems. This was overcome by using personal devices, smart phones, tablets and laptops.”
In total 218 people gave to the project with 40% being existing donors, 19% new donors and 41% lapsed donors.
Re-engagement of past donors resulted in an increase in the MailChimp EDM campaign list from 483 subscribers to 1,346 subscribers with 26 unsubscribes. The email open rate was 33%, which is 12% above industry average.
SHINE for Kids secured three major donors who served as backers, or ‘matchers’, and who also pledged three-quarters of the target to match the small-scale donations dollar for dollar. These benefactor pledges were confirmed at:
• Cages Foundation at $50,000
• Kids in Need at $22,000
• Helen Wiseman at $3,500.
Throughout the 24 hours of the campaign, individual donors could see their amounts being instantly quadrupled. The matching donors gave the campaign integrity and demonstrated trust in SHINE’S ability to raise the funds and meet the target.
“The campaign’s success can also be attributed to the overall project management support it received from the locally based Charidy team,” says Sanders.
“This strong support included analysing and understanding our existing donor behaviour over the past five years; setting a clear fundraising target; securing matching donors; developing a robust marketing and communications plan; and excellent campaign execution, particularly in relation to staff and volunteer engagement through the operations plan.”
Main marketing and communications messages
The main messages for the Brighter Futures campaign were:
• SHINE for Kids needs your help so we can continue to build brighter futures for kids where they can shine and be best the best person they can be.
• We need your help to raise $100,000 this Christmas because we need to make sure SHINE for Kids is a well-funded and sustainable organisation, now and into the future.
• Thanks to our generous donors, every donation you make is quadrupled.
For every dollar you give, SHINE for Kids will get $4.
• It’s all or nothing – if we don’t raise the full amount, your credit card will not be charged
• Here’s the catch – we must raise the full amount in 24 hours.
Key learnings from the campaign
SHINE for Kids’ first-ever crowdfunding campaign taught that it has:
• accurate donor contact details for 218 individual donors
• re-engaged existing individual donors
• increased engagement from staff in all states in fundraising activity with donations also coming from staff and a small number of donors coming from staff personal networks
• provided call centre volunteer work experience to women from Parramatta Transitional Centre (they were excellent)
• increased community engagement and awareness through our increased social media presence
• created the opportunity to build a new donor CRM and pipelines with accurate, improved donor data
• provided the opportunity to convert middle-tier and small individual donors into regular or payroll givers
• targeted marketing and communications to existing donors and developed marketing materials to increase the level of new donors
• had an approximate 250% increase in individual donations when compared to 2015 Christmas appeal income.