A Video Fundraising Campaign

Capacity Interactive AUTHOR: Capacity Interactive
Dec 18, 2009
2 Min Read

I am proud to have worked on a video fundraising project at New York City Opera that was a collaboration between the marketing and development departments. We created a video of General Manager and Artistic Director, George Steel, discussing the recent successes at City Opera and sent out email appeals asking patrons to help out with a matching gift drive by donating online. This is the second time we have created an email video appeal campaign and this time I think we did it quite well.

We sent out five versions of the email so recipients got a targeted message based on their relationship with the opera. We employed subject line testing to determine the subject line with the best open rate before deploying to the larger list. We used the word “video” in the subject line which we’ve learned increases open rates. Graphically, on the top of the email, we used a large image screen grab from the video with a “play” button superimposed on the image and worked with the development team to compose a short and pithy message bolding the key points. You can view the email here.

Most of the gifts that come from a campaign like this are under $200, which is why this is called “microgiving.” This type of fundraising was made famous by the Obama campaign that successfully employed it to bring in hundreds of thousands of new donors, many giving less than $100. However many gave more than once. According to the The Minnesota Independent, 49% of Obama’s supporters’ initially donated less than $200, but by the end of that campaign cycle, 27% had contributed up to $999. This type of giving is also a gateway to a potentially larger future relationship.

Because the gifts are not typically large, organizations need to go into this type of campaign with realistic expectations for the results. Frequency of messaging is important rather than a one-off. It seemed like Obama was sending a new video email every week. While this may be extreme for most arts organizations, every quarter is not out of the question. Patrons like to hear from an organizations leadership and a video is a great medium to communicate news of the latest happenings of your company.

We are going to send a follow-up email next week to those who did not give from the first email. Fingers crossed that the donations keep coming in.