4 min read

Here are the key questions and steps to building out and mapping your integrated fundraising campaign—and how to ensure you’re always improving.

So you’ve done the work of preparing for an integrated campaign. What are the elements that go into executing a successful campaign?

Here are the 10 key questions to ask as you begin your integrated fundraising campaign:

  1. Objectives/Goals: What is it we want to accomplish? Why do we want to do this? Have we done this before - what did we learn?
  2. Budget: What is our allocated budget for the project? Do we have a defined budget allocated for paid media buys (includes ads, influencer outreach, and other paid opportunities to share organization’s messages)? What target returns correspond to that budget?
  3. Marketing Technology Infrastructure: What do we need? What do we have? How can we execute successful campaigns within these technical constraints?
  4. Measuring Success: How will we know we have achieved success? How are we going to measure success using quantitative and qualitative methods? Do we have a system for measuring performance of the integrated campaign as well as at each stage of the donor journey? What are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that we should be monitoring and measuring?
  5. Testing and Optimization: Will we be performing campaign testing and optimization? Do we have a defined plan and process for testing and optimizing our marketing and fundraising campaigns? How does our testing and optimization model integrate with making data-informed decisions? What do we need to establish to build a marketing testing and optimization framework, if we don’t already have one in place?
  6. Branding/Messaging: Have we defined key messages for this campaign? How do those messages align with organizational strategic messaging?
  7. Donor Journey: Do we have ideal donor profiles in place? Has the donor “journey” been mapped? What insights can we glean from the donor data we have for building donor personas?
  8. Acquisitions to Fundraising Pipeline: Do we have a donor acquisition plan in place? Are we using qualified lead scoring to facilitate outreach to those most likely to donate?
  9. Brand Presence: Have we established a presence on digital properties using our brand name?
  10. Project Management: How will we manage and deliver this project within budget and schedule constraints? Who will oversee everything and keep us on track?


With these questions answered, you now need to begin building out the donor journey. Here are the four typical steps of a donor journey.

  • Awareness: This is the first stage in the donor journey and serves to build familiarity with your organization and mission using a combination of owned, earned, shared, and paid media to reach your target audience. At this stage, the prospective donor learns of your organization through online and offline channels. They may follow your organization on social media and visit your website—but at this stage they are making not commitments. Common KPIs here are numbers of followers, new unique visitors, impressions, and mentions.

  • Discovery: During this stage, a person shows interest and wants to learn more about your organization and mission. They will begin to gather relevant information through visiting your website, blog, social media channels and visiting other third-party sites to validate the information they found in your communications. The goal at this stage is to encourage the prospect to take an action that will provide them with the information they need to help them decide that your organization is a match for their interests. For instance, a prospect is directed to a landing page through a social media post. The landing page they arrive at may have an offer and a call-to-action (CTA) that prompts them to learn more about a specific program, watch a success story, download a whitepaper illustrating your organization’s impact, or subscribe to weekly email updates to stay informed on topics of interest. This stage is the beginning of the conversation between your organization and that specific person. Common KPIs here are unique returning visitors, time on site, email subscriptions, video views, or downloads.

  • Involvement: After discovery, the next action for the prospect is to make a conscious decision to further their commitment to your nonprofit. This may manifest as registering to volunteer, making a first donation, signing an online petition, or attending an event. They are interested in hearing from your nonprofit and engaging with you across various channels. They expect to be heard and seen. They expect to be thanked for their contributions and recognized for beginning a relationship. Common KPIs here are donation amount, new volunteers, petition signatures, events attended, and email opens and clicks.

  • Affirmation: At this point the person closely identifies with your nonprofit and its mission. They feel a sense of belonging and purpose with the organization. They repeatedly and frequently donate; they might be a donor club member, and they enthusiastically and openly advocate for the nonprofit. As with the “Involvement” stage, the person expects to be treated as a valued partner in the relationship. Common KPIs here are donation frequency, donation amount, volunteer hours, events attended, and personal engagement (such as calling, emailing).


Once you begin implementing your donor journey, the only way to improve it is through testing—and then optimizingin response to your testing. By testing and optimizing emails, landing pages, direct mail packages and any other campaign elements can help deliver the best possible performance results and increased donations.

The simplest method of testing is called “A/B Testing” (or “Split Testing”). Performing an A/B test allows you to create an experiment with two variants: a control (version “A”) and a treatment (version “B”). The control, version “A,” is the original campaign element while the treatment, version “B,” is the version in which a single component of the same ad, email, direct mail, landing page or other campaign element is modified. For instance, the control version may have a call-to-action button labeled “Donate” while in the treatment version the button label has been changed to “Please Help Now.”

Of course, the value of testing hinges upon your ability to track data and review performance. When you gather the data, you can look back and see which version performed better. Optimization happens when you implement the better performing version. The key takeaway from testing and optimization is to deliver better performance and improved conversion rates. But remember: testing, learning, and optimizing is a continuous process!


During and after each campaign, it will benefit your organization to document lessons learned that can be applied to future integrated marketing and fundraising campaigns. The lessons learned may include successes, failures, unplanned challenges, new information gained during the process that was not available when the project was proposed, methods and processes to streamline future campaigns (like standardized frameworks for performing tasks), and other project specific details. The goal is to establish your own internal “better practices”—that differs from “best practices,” which refers to industry standards, and better practices refer to your organization's experience.

Do you want to learn more about preparing and building your integrated fundraising campaign? Join Carmen Natschke and Spencer Kashmanian for American Philanthropic's "In the Trenches" Master Class on inegrating direct mail and digital fundraising! Register and learn more here.

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