Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds

political-campaign-fundraisingThis election cycle, while unprecedented in many ways, has also been a reminder of how important it is to execute every campaign – presidential or otherwise – as strategically and tactically as possible. For nonprofits looking to execute stronger, better fundraising campaigns this fall, these three best practices are crucial to success.

Choose your messaging carefully, but be genuine: When you're galvanizing any base in support of achieving a goal, what you say matters. That's why most politicians keep their speechwriters close at hand on the campaign trail, and elsewhere: Every word echoes exponentially when the stakes are high, and poorly chosen ones will come back to haunt you.

But relying on well-chosen words alone won’t get you anywhere (as Marco Rubio learned when he accidentally 'went robot' by overusing his favorite go-to campaign line in a February debate). To resonate with your audience, your message must be compelling, genuine, and actionable. Make sure your fundraising content doesn't come across as boilerplate – spend time crafting messaging that supports your vision, mission, and use of funds in a tangible, direct way.

Invest in long-term relationships, but watch where you step: Like politicians, most charitable 501(c) organizations have longtime, big-dollar donors in their contact lists. Even in an increasingly digital-first era of nonprofit fundraising, it's important to remember that the viability of your one-to-one relationships with your biggest donors can make or break your campaign. Always keep the lines of communication open and make personal shows of gratitude to your most reliable long-term donors.

But always remember – your most public relationships with personal, philanthropic, or corporate donors are a very public reflection of your organization. Now that more and more donors, in arenas both charitable and political, are calling for complete financial transparency, don't put yourself at risk of having to retroactively justify your involvement with certain donors (like Hillary Clinton is now). Be smart about the relationships your organization chooses to prioritize.

Never count out grassroots support: Big donors are great – and will always be hugely important to nonprofits' financial success – but small-dollar givers are just as valuable. Case in point: Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign, which notoriously raised millions on the back of average individual campaign contributions averaging just $27, many from brand-new donors who had never supported a political campaign in the past.

Galvanizing that kind of grassroots support is where online fundraising (or "crowdfunding") comes in handy. By using a technology platform, nonprofits can raise funds in a more efficient, lower-cost way – making it easier to budget for larger marketing and awareness efforts in support of winning the small-dollar donations that can add up in a game-changing way.

Mark Courtney is the Founding CEO of 121Giving, an eCommerce marketplace and product crowdfunding platform that unites charities, donors, and brands in support of a more transparent future of giving.  

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