Fundraising typically concerns itself with case studies about, well, fundraising. Sometimes, however, it’s important to catch a side glance at the outside world. So, we asked some of our top fundraisers to talk about which non-charity campaigns had caught their attention this year.
As part of a series by fundraisers on the most impressive non-fundraising campaigns of the year, Tobin Aldrich discusses the success of President Barack Obama's now successful bid to hold on to the White House.
Of all the marketing taking place outside the charity sector this year, it is President Obama’s re-election campaign that I think has most to teach fundraisers.
This might seem a surprising claim. After all, compared to his triumphant 2008 election campaign, this time round it has been much tougher for the President. For months polls have been showing virtually a dead heat between Obama and Romney. Today's election result was never a certainty.
But win or lose, the Obama campaign itself is a masterclass in integrated marketing. It centres on online engagement. Charities that struggle to bring together fundraising, communications and campaigning activities should look at the way www.barackobama.com seamlessly integrates campaign messaging, voter registration, volunteer recruitment and fundraising. There is a clear narrative that brings together each strand into a coherent overall message. Supporting this is a highly sophisticated database. Data is collected at every stage and audiences are segmented extensively resulting in a relentless stream of highly-personalised, targeted emails to potential supporters.
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Fundraising is built in to every part of the campaign. Messaging is urgent, powerful and continuous. Fundraising is itself a campaign message with the amounts raised compared to the opposition being a major news story in their own right. So far, the Obama campaign has raised nearly $800m, the vast majority in online donations.
Social media is critical. Obama’s social media reach is jawdropping: 28 million Facebook likes, over 20 million Twitter followers and strong presence in all other key social channels. Social drives massive online engagement and fundraising is fully embedded within the messaging.
Obama’s 2008 campaign demonstrated the power of the web for fundraising, I suspect the 2012 version will show how social media can really drive fundraising for a non-profit cause.
The stats will be fascinating. Obama 2012 may be rather less inspiring than the version of four years ago. At the time of writing, it is far from certain that he will win. But his campaign deserves close attention from nonprofit marketers. Now that the dust has settled on the campaign, let the dissection begin.
Tobin Aldrich is director of fundraising at WWF UK.
Read more non-fundraising campaigns that fundraisers can learn from: