“We are still shy of our goal, with only one week left to make donations.” Well, that’s not something you want to say as a campaign leader, or even hear as a parent.

But it worked!

That honest reality check encouraged members of the community to make donations towards the annual “Christmas Purse” at my children’s school. Every holiday season, the PTO raises money to acknowledge and reward all the hard-working staff across the entire campus.

Christmas 2020 was a little different. Budgets were tight and workloads were heavy, but the community pulled together to raise another twenty thousand dollars in one week. As a parent witnessing this all, I was amazed. This happened at the height of holiday planning and budgeting, not to mention, in the midst of a global pandemic. So, what’s the lesson here? 

Be transparent. It pays off.

Be honest and share why the funds are so important. It goes a long way in any giving campaign.

For the “Christmas Purse,” campaign leaders put forth the effort to paint a very vivid picture of how the funds would be used. That’s all it took! From the teachers and administrators to the aftercare staff and groundskeepers – everyone worked so hard this year to ensure our kids were safe and the school ran smoothly (or as smoothly as possible during a pandemic). To hear how the money would be distributed, and to then see how the campaign was tracking really lit a fire under the parent community.

With the little extra time it took to share the details of the campaign, the effort paid off!

Be clear in your communications.

This strategy based on transparency can apply to any giving campaign. Take your school’s annual fund campaign for example. Many families don’t realize tuition only covers a portion of the cost to educate their child. Make sure you are clearly communicating this fact with parents. Something as simple as adding text to the top of your form or in the campaign email will get everyone on the same page from the get-go.

Below is a sample message you can use to politely remind families of the gap in tuition vs. cost to educate each child.

 “Tuition and fees alone only cover (x%) of the cost of education. Your generous support towards (Name of School’s Campaign) provides the margin of excellence for our students.”

According to a recent Harris Poll, twenty percent of people gave less to charity in 2020. However, more than half say they’ve been donating the same amount. And believe it or not, more than one out of five people are giving more. All it takes is clear and authentic communications to effectively motivate your audience.

Set your campaign up for success.

 Pair transparent communications with an easy way to make an online payment and your families will appreciate it. It shows you took the time to understand the experience from your community’s point of view.

When your campaign is a success, don’t forget to follow-up with a thank you. Share the results in the same channels you used to encourage participation. Whether that’s in your weekly newsletter or on your school’s Facebook page, sharing the results of the campaign will wrap up the experience nicely. Plus, it will inspire your community to participate in future campaigns.