Marketing is tough, and when you’re already trying to raise money, the last thing you want to do is spend more money for reach and access to new eyeballs. But you can’t always go back to the same well for more water, and if you’ve already tapped out your current followers and community and still have more money to raise, then you’ll need to expand your reach somehow.
That’s where getting creative with your portrait fundraising marketing comes in. While it can seem impossible, expanding your reach on limited funds is doable - as long as you know what you’re doing.
We’ve got some ideas for you, including how to use social media, email, word of mouth, and a few other tricks on the cheap, so check them out below.
Email marketing, particularly to a donor email list, is already probably one of your top sources for fundraising revenue. But if your list is starting to feel a bit tapped out or you are getting a lot of unsubscribes, you’re going to need to switch things up a bit to grow your audience and get your fundraiser emails in front of some new eyeballs. Here’s a few ideas:
- Host a contest to capture more emails. Online contests are a good way to reach new audiences and encourage social sharing. Once you get people to sign up for your emails, you hit them with a welcome series that tells them about your organization and what you’re trying to raise money for, and if they don’t unsubscribe, they may actually become a genuine supporter!
- Launch a Referral Program. One of the best ways to use your network is to activate it to share with other networks. One way to do that with email is to launch a referral program. For example, launch an offer where if they get five of their friends to sign up for a portrait fundraiser, you’ll pay $20 out of pocket yourself for them to get an extra portrait to send to Grandma!
- Take a survey. If you feel like your list is getting tapped out, you can always ask your donors to answer a survey for you about what they want to see more from your organization in the future. Maybe they want more communication about progress, or more perks after becoming a sustaining member. Maybe they have unmet prayer requests, or just need a little genuine correspondence to feel like you care about them for more than just their money.
- Incorporate Video. Believe it or not, just by putting the word “Video” in your email subject line, you get a 60% increase in email opens. If you record a video correspondence, say just to check in on how an individual backer is doing or give an update on your campaign’s progress, it will encourage engagement at an astonishing rate. Keep it cheap. We’re talking iphone or android quality videos!
Have you ever looked at a whole week of posts and asked yourself why you aren’t getting more engagement, only to find out that it’s because your organic posts only reach a small number of your actual followers?
That’s because social media networks, particularly Facebook, are notorious for promoting their own internal advertising tools so that you have no choice but to pay to access your own community. While they’ve gotten their fair share of flack for this and started to change, it can still feel like you need to advertise in order to keep up.
Here are a few tactics:
- Launch a Facebook (Or Instagram) Live. Since Facebook made its pledge to promote more genuine interaction between users instead of brands, it seems like video, particularly live video, has been their main priority. So if you really want to get your followers to pay attention, try going live on Facebook or Instagram a couple times a week to let people know about your current campaign and encourage interaction and donations. You can even have a conversation with friends and family and get them to sign up while you’re live!
- Make an Instagram Story. If you’re new to Instagram, Stories are those daily videos that live for 24 hours and then disappear. It’s a great way to keep tabs on your friend’s lives and let them know what you’re up to, too. Try making Stories to promote and encourage interaction with your page and add another touch point to potential donors to remind them to sign up!
- Create Polls and Ask Questions! Everyone loves marketing but nobody likes to feel sold to, which is why you don’t always have to be blasting about signing up to still let them know what’s going on! Instead, create polls to ask them about other topics or even ask them what type of portrait they would want if they could make their own theme. You could even poll people on the best types of outfits to wear, or what kind of snacks they would want available at the event!
Okay now forget everything we just said for a minute. There are still times when you may want to get the word out with some paid ads, but it still might feel prohibitively expensive. There are some tricks you can use to keep promoting your portrait fundraiser or other fundraising campaign without breaking the bank. Here’s a few:
- Boost a post every now and then. If you’re trying to reach your audience, there’s no reason why you can’t spend a little to get your posts actually seen. Even $10-$20 for one boosted post every week could help get your fundraiser over the finish line. Also make sure that your targeting is focused on the local community and not the entire United States, so that way the right people (and only the right people) will see it, and you’ll get more value out of your money!
- Hyper-target a small group then scale up. If you are promoting your local portrait fundraiser, why not start with a small list of the emails of your friends and family who you know will sign up for their own portraits. Then, create a look-alike-audience in Facebook to target similar folks in your area and spend a couple dollars a day to reach them. If you can get five people to sign up at $100 for spending $5, you just made a profit of 100x!
- Spend a little money on a gift card and do a giveaway. If you’re already making live videos and reaching out to people on a daily or several-times-a-weekly basis, why not throw down a little money and offer a gift card as a giveaway prize for a live raffal. You can promote it over the course of a week so everyone knows when to tune in (on Friday at 5pm of course!) and even have them give you their email to sign up. Then you do a random drawing live on Facebook - right after plugging the sign ups and reminding everyone to donate to your fundraising campaign before time runs out!
Word of Mouth
When all digital sources fail, there’s still the tried and true method of getting the word out by telling your friends to tell their friends. One way to do this if you’re running an annual portrait fundraiser is by sharing portraits from last year with your community. They’ll see how cute the photos are and want some of their own - that’s how everyone ended up having kids around the same time, isn’t it?!
You can also incorporate social fundraising and encourage your donors and followers to share their donations and sign-ups alongside a little message about why your cause is important to them. By empowering your community to share your cause and make it their own, they are that much more likely to touch members of their community who might not have heard about your fundraiser, and encourage them to sign up too.
Last but not least, think about how you communicate the why behind your fundraising effort. Are you a church congregation raising money for an overseas mission trip or a new roof for the chapel? Are you a school trying to raise enough money so your talented marching band can go play at the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles for the summer? Or maybe you’re a local sports league raising funds so that all the kids who make it to the play-offs can afford the travel to play outside their hometown.
There’s so many reasons behind why you’re raising money, sometimes the money gets in the way! Focus on the cause - usually the kids - and the why behind the dollars you need, and that will help tell a better story when you communicate your effort to others.
Don’t forget to include how your donors can benefit too. In the case of a portrait fundraiser, that would be focusing on the magical memories they’ll get to cherish by getting their own family portraits to have forever and always. It truly is a priceless gift, and if they get to benefit a good cause too, there really is no downside to contribute!
Guaranteed Christmas Delivery is Going, Going, Soon to be Gone!
Speaking of precious family memories… if you’re looking to book a date to host your own portrait fundraiser this year, then you’d better book ASAP before all of our “Guaranteed Christmas Delivery” weekend dates are sold out - especially if you’re planning on offering a holiday theme for the portraits, and want your backers to get them in time for Grandma to open under the Christmas tree!