How the #MPRraccoon Translates to Modern Fundraising Strategy

What does the #MPRraccoon have to do with modern fundraising? Everything. 

 #MPRraccoon inspired people around the globe on topics ranging from completing college to world peace.

#MPRraccoon inspired people around the globe on topics ranging from completing college to world peace.

In case you missed it, #MPRraccoon is the tale of a raccoon who was observed scaling the side of 25-story building in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota. Quite literally, millions (billions? It was the top trending story on Twitter worldwide at one point) followed this furry little critter's harrowing climb up several hundred feet in the middle of a busy work day. (Thank you, social media) It was a unifying event that, according to many tweets, inspired observers across the globe.

So what does this have to do with fundraising? Again, everything ...because online fundraising works best when you are able to catch potential donors at the right point in time. 

In most cases, we try to accomplish this by tying digital campaigns to established events we can anticipate. #GivingTuesday, national awareness days, founding anniversaries ...and that can be successful. But rarely are those events as inspiring as a sudden, viral Internet sensation.

So how on Earth can you prepare for something as random as a miniature mammal taking center stage before the world? If you're an conservation or animal welfare organization, the answer should be obvious. Early the day after the #MPRraccoon hit the news, you should have had a social media campaign with promoted tweets and Facebook posts ready to fire. Emails should have been created and sent - a giving page with a screen grab of the raccoon and clear call to action should have been ready to go.

The messaging? For animal rights orgs: "Not all wildlife achieves the fame of #MPRraccoon - give today to ensure happy endings for all those animals who aren't trending topics"

For the conservation org: "Don't force more raccoons up high rises - give today to preserve habitat for generations to come"

It's concept we at Groundwork have coined "agile fundraising" (a play off the more well known "agile marketing" term). You can prepare your fundraising shop to leverage this concept and react nimbly when the social media gods deliver opportunities that align with your mission. Here's how:

  • Hire internally or outsource a team of quick thinking communicators and producers who can work with the news cycle. (This is why Groundwork aims to hire fundraisers with experience in the news industry ... women and men who are accustomed to delivering impactful stories that align with the events of the day on excruciating tight timelines are fundamental to our strategies)
  • Be ready to quickly produce short, succinct video which can be deployed via social media. OR ...create video content in advance that can easily be connected to a more predictable news item with a slight edit. (A full screen graphic, for example)
  • Use technology that allows you to build a content-rich online giving page in less than an hour. Most crowdfunding platforms allow for this. 
  • And develop a strategy that prepares your team - from major gift officers who secure matching gifts in less than a day (our clients have done this - it is possible if you've built the framework in advance) to content producers ready to turn on a dime to leadership who is comfortable with the pace.

At Groundwork, we are doing agile fundraising for our clients right now and we have examples of how this has helped raise hundreds of thousand of dollars and hundreds of new major gift prospects. In fact, later this summer (2018), we'll be releasing a case study about our most recent agile fundraising campaign with one of our client partners. Click here to let us know if you'd like to be added to the email list so we can send you a copy when it's ready.

Agile fundraising is not without it's challenges, but the opportunity that exists with this strategy is tremendous. Have you had success with agile fundraising or agile marketing for your nonprofit? If so, let us know in the comments!