Running an awareness campaign
Throughout the year, there are hundreds of Awareness Days, Weeks and Months for important causes. These are often organised by charities or campaigning bodies to draw attention to an issue that deserves more public recognition.
The problem is that, particularly in small charities, organising an awareness campaign is often left to the fundraising team or sole fundraiser. If you're that person, you'll already be an expert at raising money - but now everyone also expects you to be an expert at campaigning too! Eek!
So, how should you use these important dates to raise awareness and maximise their impact?
Make a plan
If your awareness campaign is going to last several days, or even a whole month, you need to make sure you have planned a full schedule of activity for the duration. Sit down with your team as early as possible to plan what you're going to do and who needs to be involved.
You also need to think about how you are going to measure success, so that you can keep improving year on year. Compared to a fundraising campaign, it can feel a bit more tricky to know if an awareness campaign has worked. What does success look like for you? What is the ultimate goal of your campaign?
Ideally, you should be come up with a list of KPIs (key performance indicators). If you measure these before, during and after your campaign, you should see a noticeable improvement if your campaign has been successful!
Examples could include:
- Number of visitors to your website or a specific landing page
- Number of social media followers or comments
- Engagement rate with social posts
- Number of posts featuring your awareness hashtag (see below)
- Number of people who have joined your mailing list
- Fundraising income
Give plenty of notice
Once you have a plan, it's time to let people know about it! Make sure to tell your existing supporters how they can get involved, and when the special date is. If you have any high-profile followers or celebrity ambassadors, it's good to give them plenty of notice and make sure you are clear about what you would like them to do.
Write a blog or news article
You might want to write a series of blogs or articles to share throughout the campaign. You can upload these to your website and schedule social media posts with links to each blog.
If you think your article will have a wide-reaching public appeal, you could even write a press release. To increase the likelihood of your press release making it into the news, it's a good idea to think which news providers would be most likely to share your story - for example, will this be more interesting to people who live in a specific area, or who are interested in a particular topic?
Ask people to share their own stories
Awareness campaigns are a great opportunity to invite other people to share their own personal stories about the topic. This is a good way to reach the general public, as people are more likely to take interest in an issue that has directly affected someone they know. There are several ways you could do this:
- Send an email to your supporters and ask them to fill in a form or reply with their story. You could pick the strongest stories to bring your blogs and news articles to life with real case studies.
- Write a social media post which asks people to reply in the comments about how they have been affected by your cause area. You could also ask them to share the post or write their own to share with their network. If you can, ask them to share their post with a hashtag (eg. for a cancer awareness campaign, it could be #CancerAwareness) so that you can keep track of how many people are talking about it.
- Create a Visufund page where people are invited to tell their story and add a virtual awareness ribbon to the page. As more people contribute, the page will fill up with inspiring stories... which will inspire others to share their story too! If your main goal is raising awareness (rather than raising money), we recommend setting donations to optional on your page. This encourages more people to contribute and makes your campaign as open and inclusive as possible. You may find that lots of people will still be very generous!
Organise a community event or workshop
Get a date in the diary to bring a community together to talk about your cause. You could organise an interactive workshop, a formal presentation, or even an informal networking event. This can be a great opportunity to work closely with local businesses, who may offer to sponsor your event or provide catering.