Whether you’re looking to win support for an issue, impact policy, or inspire donors to take action and give, a campaign rarely succeeds without solid, thoughtful campaign planning. Learn firsthand from seasoned nonprofit leaders.
Our campaign strategy example helps you navigate through the ins and outs of planning a successful campaign – regardless if it’s your first or 10th. Here are six key steps to putting your campaign plan together:
1. Define the Victory
It’s important that everyone agrees on the core goal or goals of your campaign. You also need to make sure the definition of your campaign’s success is specific and actionable. What exactly are you trying to accomplish? How will you know that you’ve hit your goal?
2. Evaluate the Campaign Climate
Once you clearly define your campaign win, it’s time to evaluate the climate in which you’ll deploy your outreach. When you understand what’s going on with your issue or audience, you can plan to maximize the positives and strengthen any weaknesses. Identify what’s already working in your favor and what obstacles might cause your message to get lost or be misunderstood. Some questions to help you evaluate your issue’s climate:
- Is your issue hot on the agenda or stuck in limbo?
- What is the current conversation around your issue?
- Who is the opposition and what is their agenda?
- Who else is working on this issue?
- What current events or opportunities can you use to your advantage?
3. Chart the Course
Lay out the series of milestones that you must hit on your way to reach your goal. Ideally, these steps should build off each other and indicate that your campaign is gaining momentum. Focus these milestones on the desired outcomes, rather than the tactics themselves. For example, if your campaign will reach out to local businesses to gain sponsors, your milestone should not be pitching these business owners. Rather, it should be that you reach your desired number of confirmed business partners for your cause.
4. Choose Your Influence Strategy
Along with each step, understand the decision-makers who will determine your success. These may be voters, business partners, or public officials. Then, find out who will have the most influence on these decision-makers. These are the people you want to reach and activate to help your initiative gain momentum. Warning: avoid naming broad groups such as “the general public,” “voters” or “women.” Just as you did with your campaign goal, get very specific about your influencers so you have a clear picture of the kind of person you need to reach to achieve victory.
5. Message for Impact
All campaigns benefit from a messaging platform that provides everyone in your organization with a consistent positioning statement. Keep in mind that a messaging platform doesn’t need to be rigid, nor does it need to be memorized, but it should provide the core concepts and talking points to serve as a guide for your spokespeople. A good message platform includes the following four points:
- Explain the problem/need that currently exists or the situation that you are working to change
- Specify what your campaign is working to accomplish
- Describe how you recommend addressing the need or problem, along with specific actions that decision-makers need to take
- Explain the result that a campaign victory will have and how it solves the problem you noted at the start
6. Manage Your Campaign
Once you outline the main tactics to achieve your goals, you still need to plan the day-to-day details to get it done. Each assignment should have a deadline/timeline, owner, metrics including outcomes, and a budget. When it comes to metrics, it’s important to think of ones that lead to outcomes. Once your campaign is underway, don’t forget to celebrate the small victories with your team to keep everyone motivated.
For a step-by-step guide to building your campaign strategy, check our free guide, Step-by-Step Guide to Planning a Fundraising Campaign.
How are you applying these steps to your campaigns? Share your current efforts in the comments below and add in your tips for fellow campaigners.
Updated: January 27, 2022