Ep 128 | Creating Campaigns with Stories with Vanessa Chase Lockshin

I think that we often overlook the value of really good messaging, like, ultimately messaging is part of what makes the campaign cohesive and consistent, especially if it's happening over many weeks, or many channels, like you want people to feel like they're getting the message and grasping the concept, no matter where they're encountering it, right, whether it's on social on your email list, or in a direct mail piece. And so to me, part of spending time and thoughtfulness on the messaging is achieving a high degree of consistency across those places. And being able to really like kind of hone in on what it is you want to get across during that campaign that's going to inspire giving. And so I often look at, you know, kind of like one to five key points in a campaign depending on how big it is. And you know, some of those key messages may be more like for the cultivation phase, some might be more specific to the asking phase of that campaign. But I really want to just kind of drill down into, what is it that I want people to know, and what is it that I think is going to be most likely to compel them to make that gift and to participate in the campaign? – Vanessa Chase Lockshin

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In this episode, I speak to Vanessa Chase Lockshin, a consultant specializing in profit storytelling and fundraising. She is also the author of Storytelling Nonprofit: A Practical Guide To Telling Stories That Raise Money And Awareness. Vanessa is a crater of massive online programs for nonprofit professionals and has trained over 9,000 professionals in the space to date. 

She joins us to talk about how to set up campaigns, tell stories, and pull altogether to ensure everything is ready right from the beginning to the end of a successful campaign.

What you'll learn:

→ Vanessa’s background in the nonprofit space
→ The campaign planning process
→ Why you should plan for campaign follow-ups before kicking off the campaign
→ Must-haves for a fundraising campaign

Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways

[03:10] How Vanessa got into the nonprofit space. She has been in the industry for 12 years. Vanessa joined the nonprofit industry right after college. She’s passionate about her job because she gets to work alongside people who love what they’re doing and be able to help them raise the money to do great work in the world.
[07:01] The campaign planning process. You first need to have an ambitious campaign goal. Have a timeline for cultivation and asking phases
[10:23] The value of good messaging. Good messaging help remove the objections before you make the ask.
[18:08] Must-haves for a fundraising campaign. Have at least one channel that you’re asking from. Have initial asks and follow-up strategies. Create stories both for the cultivation and asking phases.


The Storytelling Non-Profit Master Class 

Vanessa Chase Lockshin

Vanessa Chase Lockshin

Founder, The Storytelling Nonprofit

Vanessa Chase Lockshin is a consultant specializing in non-profit storytelling and fundraising, author of The Storytelling Non-Profit: A practical guide to telling stories that raise money and awareness, and the creator of immersive online training programs for non-profit professionals. Vanessa's approach goes beyond strategies and tactics to empower non-profit professionals to be the expert their organization needs.

Vanessa has helped clients raise millions of dollars, increase a monthly giving program to over 5,000 donors, and develop winning digital strategies.

Vanessa’s fundraising career started at The University of British Columbia, her alma mater. Her clients have included: Barnard College, Meals on Wheels Association of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, British Columbia Children’s Hospital, Senior Medicare Patrol, The Dixon Transition Society, Zanesville Museum of Art, Win Without War, and OpenMedia. Learn more at https://www.thestorytellingnonprofit.com

We love creating the podcast. If you like what you learned here please give us a tip and help us offset our production costs.

When you leave a review it helps this podcast get in front of other nonprofits that could use the support. If you liked what you heard here, please leave us a review.

Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey there, Sami here. Welcome to another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast. And today we're talking about running campaigns with Vanessa Chase Lockshin. We have a wonderful conversation about how to kind of set up the campaigns, how to tell stories, how to really pull it all together to make sure everything is ready from start to finish. To have an extremely successful campaign, I think you're really going to like this one. Vanessa Chase Lockshin is a consultant specializing in nonprofit storytelling and fundraising, author of the storytelling nonprofit, A Practical Guide to telling stories that raise money and awareness and the creator of immersive online training programs for nonprofit professionals. Vanessa's approach goes beyond the strategies and tactics to empower nonprofit professionals to be the expert their organization needs. Vanessa has helped clients raise millions of dollars, increase monthly giving programs to over 5000 donors and develop winning digital strategies. But as his fundraising career started at the University of British Columbia, her alma mater, her clients have included Barnard College Meals on Wheels Association of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, British Columbia Children's Hospital, Senior Medicare Patrol, the Dixon transition society, Zanesville Museum of Art without war and open media. 

Vanessa and I know each other from another professional network that we're in. And it's been so great to have her on this podcast, I love her take on everything, and just how she kind of lays out for you what a campaign can look like. Now I understand that we're close to your end. So hopefully you have your year end campaigns all ready to go. But if not, you'll get some great tips here. Otherwise, really just some good things to think about as you plan for 2022 and figure out how often you're going to run campaigns, what that looks like, and how it's all going to come together. So let me know what you find to be the best aha moment for you. But before we get into this episode, it is brought to you by our Patreon channel, we put so much effort and love into our patriot patrons. We love to support them with Q and A's. We have worksheets that go out every month, so you get first access to the episodes through that worksheet and take action and get things done. We really want to make sure you're taking action from the episodes that make the most sense for you and where you're at within your organization. Let's hit those goals. Let's keep running and let's get it done. So head on over to thefirstclick.net/Patreon to learn more. Let's get into the episode.  

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

 [Sami Bedell Mulhern] Hey everybody, join me in welcoming Vanessa Chase Lockshin to the podcast. Vanessa, thank you so much for joining me today.

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] So glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So why don't you know I've already introduced people to you a little bit. But why don't you kind of share how you got into the nonprofit space and why it's just become a passion of yours.

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Yeah, I've been fundraising now for almost 12 years, it's been a long time. I got started in fundraising right out of college. Actually, I ended up working in the advancement office where I went to school at the University of British Columbia, kind of haphazardly. I've done some marketing work at the university before that. And then my second job right out of college was in the fundraising, and advancement department. And I didn't know anything about fundraising, I'm still really surprised they hired me. I learned a lot. I learned from some truly amazing direct response marketers on that team and just found a real interest in the creativity of direct response fundraising, and wanted to see what else was out there and fundraising. 

And I ended up working at a smaller social service organization in Vancouver a couple years after that, where I managed a mid level monthly giving program and then wanted to try my hand in consulting. And I've been working for myself and consulting with nonprofits since 2013. Now I have had the opportunity to work with some truly incredible clients. And I think the thing that makes me passionate about this work and keeps me doing it is just getting to work alongside people who are just so passionate about what they're doing and about the cause that their organization has. And being able to help them raise the money they need to do great work in the world. That's so awesome.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, so you've seen it all you've probably seen really well run campaigns, you've probably seen some that were like thrown together in five minutes. You know, you've probably seen a lot of areas of opportunity. And throughout all of those years of fundraising.

 [Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Definitely yeah, there's like quite the gamut in, in fundraising in terms of what organizations can do and what they do end up executing. And I think a lot of that sometimes it's dependent on the organization size and budget, which often correlates with the sophistication of their fundraising program. But there's also tons of small grassroots organizations that have really strong fundraising. And I think, to me, one of the three lines that I see in organizations who run really good campaigns is really good project management and understanding that the campaign is more of like a process and a project to manage not just like this one outcome that they're seeking, and that they don't think about the fundraising ask like as this sort of, like, vacuum in and of itself, that they understand that the ask is the result of a lot of communication and messaging and momentum that they build going into that. And that that's really kind of like the support system that helps a campaign thrive in the end?

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, no, and what I love about what you said, and then we'll jump into some tactical stuff here. What I love about what you said is, it doesn't matter the size of your organization, because what you're talking about is planning the project management, that doesn't cost you money. It's not like you're saying, well, it's only organizations that have a ton of money to spend in advertising, or, you know, like, it's all about just getting organized and having a plan in place.

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, I always think that fundraising campaigns can be as complex or simple as you make them. Like, it's always just a series of decisions that you make about what sort of channels and tactics you're gonna run. You know, how you want to market that campaign before you go live with the asking phase of it. And, you know, I think even for smaller organizations, I find I've worked with some really small ones in the last 10 years, with teams of like only a couple of people, they've run really great, successful campaigns, because they got organized, and they got it together ahead of time. And they were able to really mobilize themselves and the resources that they had in a really strategic way.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So let's talk about the planning process a little bit, because I think sometimes especially for those of you procrastinators, if you're still working on your urine campaigns, for sure, like, hopefully, you get some good tips here. But just really, as we think about planning for the next fundraising year, and we're trying to figure out multiple or different campaigns that we're going to run, I think like you alluded to like the ask, because maybe we're organizations start but that's not really where that beginning, phase begin or begins begins with the campaign. So where do you Where's a good place for people to start when they're thinking about really putting effort in thoughtfully planning out these events?

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Yeah, I think there's a couple of things that I think about in campaigns that I've run. And you know, in the last year, I've run, I've run a digital fundraising program for one of my clients. And we've had a few campaigns that have done into the six figures of email fundraising. And so when I think about how we run the email portion of those digital campaigns, as an example, there's a couple of things that I always think about, I mean, I start with kind of a top level of like, what is the goal? So in terms of like, the scale of this campaign, like is it on the smaller side, do we have a really ambitious campaign goal because of a matching gift or something of that nature.

And so I just want to kind of wrap my mind around, you know, this sort of the gravity of the goal that we're going for, and I look also to, I mean, I'm definitely like a data nerd when it comes to this stuff. So I also look at like, not just the overall amount that we want to raise, but you know, number of gifts, you know, lifting, giving, that we might want to see new donors, other kinds of qualifying, like other kinds of things that would be indicators of success for the campaign. And from there, when I have an idea of the kind of full scope of what it is we're doing, I then start to look at the timeline. And this is where I kind of divide the timeline into what I consider the cultivation phase, and then the asking phase of the campaign. And I think that the cultivation phase of the campaign can vary quite a bit like it could be only like a week or two ahead of the asking part of the campaign. 

Or it could be a little bit longer of a runway, I've definitely had some campaigns in the last year where we've had a cultivation phase, it's more like four to six weeks. That's really because maybe we're introducing an entirely new messaging arc, a new program, something that we want to educate and inform people about before we go into asking, and we know that there's more legwork in that when we get into something like a fundraising ask for somebody that they've never seen before. And then, you know, in terms of the timeline on the asking, beside, you know, look at like, you know, what sort of volume of asks, Are we doing, what kind of follow up is required, in terms of the tactics and looking at that, and I think that's where you can kind of get into how complex you want it to be in terms of the myriad of ways that you might be asking people to donate to that campaign. So those are definitely two of the places that I start with when I start kind of running through that decision making process. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So, then when you have kind of the goals in place, and you know exactly what you're talking targets are and maybe you know what segments of your list you're going after and all of those things, how important does kind of the messaging then become? You kind of alluded to, you know, longer term if we have a new message or maybe shorter term if we have a warmer audience. But you know, how key is that messaging in the success of those campaigns?

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] I think it's a really essential part. And I think that, I think that we often overlook the value of really good messaging, like, ultimately messaging is part of what makes the campaign cohesive and consistent, especially if it's happening over many weeks, or many channels, like you want people to feel like they're getting the message and grasping the concept, no matter where they're encountering it, right, whether it's on social on your email list, or in a direct mail piece. And so to me, part of spending time and thoughtfulness on the messaging is achieving a high degree of consistency across those places. And being able to really like kind of hone in on what it is you want to get across during that campaign that's going to inspire giving. And so I often look at, you know, kind of like one to five key points in a campaign depending on how big it is. And you know, some of those key messages may be more like for the cultivation phase, some might be more specific to the asking phase of that campaign. But I really want to just kind of drill down into, what is it that I want people to know, and what is it that I think is going to be most likely to compel them to make that gift and to participate in the campaign? 

And, you know, I think that that's often where, you know, I go back and look at, you know, old data that I have audience researchers have collected to kind of look at like trends around, like what has worked with people, and what has worked with a particular audience to think about what might be sticky in terms of messaging. And if it's a totally new messaging direction, I think that there's still a really important way where you can lean on what worked what's worked before, in terms of like the actual verbiage and language that you're using, there's a, there's a good chance that you can bring a lot of that into the new messaging and how you formulate that. So that there is some consistency in terms of your brand voice and how you do message things. As an organization, even if it's a totally new program or service that you're getting out in front of people, because you're really priming. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So that when the ask does come, it's much easier, yes. Right? You've kind of removed all of those objections before you make that ask.

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Exactly. And I think like, you know, when I sit down and write fundraising emails specifically, like I'm always thinking about going into that first task, and the email, like my job is to make it like a no brainer to when people get to that first link to click right to be. So it's seamless. I want it to be like a really flawless argument and narrative into that app so that people are like, Oh, yeah, like, of course, I'm going to donate to this, like there's a problem. Here's a solution, I can donate and make this solution happen. And I think that good messaging will often help kind of prime that so that the legwork isn't quite as heavy when you get into the actual fundraising appeal.

And I think that what I've seen with students and clients of mine is that sometimes when they actually get into the asking phase of their campaign, and they're preparing for that, they're writing appeals, they're writing direct mail, they're writing social media posts, whatever it might be, they're so bogged down and trying to get across every last detail that they end up making really sometimes like convoluted complicated arguments for why someone should donate, that aren't easy to follow and end up losing people along the way. And so I think that benefit, the benefit of, of doing this kind of cultivation phase of the campaign is that you're bringing people along, those who are most highly engaged in your audience anyways. So you need to make less of a giant, complicated argument, when you finally get to that fundraising appeal. The groundwork is already there for them.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, that's so good. And so when it comes to them, like you mentioned, like multi-channels, like when you're kind of pushing things out, I think the other thing that I see when you're talking about convoluted messages is they're talking about multiple things at the same time. So when, when you're choosing how many campaigns you're going to run throughout the year, you know, do you recommend kind of limiting those so that when you are running maybe it's like two big campaigns? That during that time, that campaign period, all you're talking about on all channels? Is that campaign so you're not confusing, kind of the ask or the goal of the action that you need people to take? Yeah, I think it's hard, particularly with social media.

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Like I think for organizations, one of the things that I see them often juggling and to some degree struggling with is that they want to use social media for often like two very distinct things. One is fundraising and the other is for kind of like, brand and program awareness and getting people like in the door to programs or services that kind of like, I always think of it as like, kind of like nebulous awareness generation on Yeah, and those those things can get can be very divergent and a lot of ways. And so I think for some organizations, it's hard to figure out, Can we just flip the switch and only talk about a fundraising campaign for a couple of weeks on our social media channels. And I think a lot of organizations will feel like they can't do that. There's like this obligation to speak to people who access their service, and like, inform people about what's going on. And I understand that. 

And I think that sometimes that can make sense. But I think the more that you can stay focused, and stay on message, and under the umbrella of like a key campaign that you're working on, probably the more traction, you're gonna get there, than if you're sort of doing this like scattershot approach to content, especially on social where you're talking about everything, and you're kind of like losing the ability to build the narrative arc over many days, I think it gets harder to kind of pull that back together in some ways as you go on.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I agree. And I think that's where it comes down to planning. And, you know, like, don't run a major fundraising campaign, while you're also maybe in an enrollment period for your services, or, like, you know, really putting those things together on a calendar so that you can make sure everything is running, running together. Um, okay, so I want to talk a little bit about So, um, you know, maybe you've got your campaign going, how important is it to plan for the follow up of that campaign before you even kick off that campaign?

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Yeah, I generally plan all of those things together at once. Because I know that when a campaign wraps, whenever whatever time of the year it is, I'm going to probably be tired and bogged down, not wanting to write stewardship content, after I've just run a fundraising marathon and like the month of December. I think some of it's about knowing yourself, like knowing your own work process and everything. And like, yeah, like totally after a fundraising campaign, like you get bogged down in stewardship. And so I always think the more you can do ahead of time, the more your future self will thank you for, the better off you're going to be. I also personally, just in my own writing process, find it much easier to write and edit like a whole, like, kind of compendium of content for a campaign at once, because I can see it all together. And I can edit it all together. And I think that that helps me make better decisions about the cohesion and how it's all working together, as opposed to just writing one email, and then going and doing other work, and then realizing there's another email that needs to go out like a day from now. And so I should write that one today. Right, I think you kind of lose that perspective, when you end up writing a little bit more, kind of spread out like that.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I agree with that. Plus, I think you're much more efficient when you pull it all together at once. And it's less likely that you're going to make errors or forget something in the process. And so if somebody was going to do a super simple campaign, because you've talked a lot about different elements that would need to be included email, direct mail, all of those things. But if we were going to really simplify it and be specific, what types of things do you think are must haves for a fundraising campaign? And maybe what would be nice to have if you're ready to kind of step it up?

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Hmm. I mean, I think that that basic level, like there's always got to be one channel that you're asking on, right. And I always think that it's good to choose the one that you know, it's going to perform the best. And so if that's for your organization has been direct mail, great. If you're aspiring to be email, but you really don't have much of an email list, then I wouldn't say put all your eggs in the email basket, and abandon your direct mail. So I would definitely pick one to start. And then if you find that you have capacity or time or you're just trying to prioritize growing a channel, I would put that one next in the strategy to kind of add to what you're doing. In terms of the actual, like, campaign itself, I mean, there's certainly a couple things that you're gonna want to think about, which is, you know, having like the initial ask probably some sort of follow up strategy, especially if you're using digital channels, and you can do easy follow up with people. You know, you're gonna want to have great stories and really strong messaging, both for the cultivation phase and the asking phase, and it doesn't have to be a lot of stories. Sometimes it only takes one really strong one that helps communicate your argument, get your points across. And you can use that story in different ways in different places in that campaign to engage people with one really strong example of how their donation will make a difference. And the kind of coming off of that campaign. And I think what you touched on Sammy is the idea of great follow up like you've put in so much time and effort into these campaigns and you want to ultimately, like build a long term loyal donor community and so having, even just like a simple process of like a thank you letter, Maybe a phone call after the campaign's over to connect with people to thank them for their, their donations can make a really big difference.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that you brought up phone calls. I'm a huge fan of that. And I think that I agree with you. The thing that makes me the most sad is that retention rates with donors is terrible across the board, generally speaking. So you know, like you said, you put in all this effort, don't let it be lost on the fact that then you have to do the same amount of work every single time to get, you know, new donors, because you're not retaining those old ones. So the power of phone call, especially, I mean, I this is kind of sidebar, but I would love to hear, you know, kind of what feedback you've been getting from your students and and clients because you know, we've been hearing is the power of the phone call right now has been a game changer. With so many people being in quarantine or still being nervous about leaving their house are all of the things that just those calls to say, How have you become even more impactful?

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] Yeah, I think that that's definitely been true. And that's what I've heard from a few of my clients this past year and a half now. A lot, right? Yeah, the phone call like that phone call as a strategy is still a really great thing that's working for them. I think, for some of them, they're actually getting higher answer rates, because people are, maybe, have a little less to do so they are actually able to talk to more people than they used to. Which is great. And a really good thing for building great relationships with donors.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. Okay, so how many campaigns then do you recommend organizations run throughout the year? And because these are going to be different from your other fundraising activities? I mean, I also feel like, well, I'll ask part two of that question. 

[Vanessa Chase Lockshin] After a lesson with smaller organizations that I work with, who likely have a budget of under $2 million, they're smaller staff, maybe have one fundraising person, maybe they don't, though, I always suggest that for sure, at the very minimum, they run a year and fundraising campaign, because that's going to be when people are most ready to give and most likely to give. And my follow up suggestion to them is that their short to medium term goal be to establish a second consistent campaign that they run during the year. And my guidelines for deciding what kind of the focal point of that campaign is will vary from organization to organization. I sometimes suggest running around on Awareness Day that really makes sense for them. Like I have worked with a rape crisis center in Vancouver for a number of years, and they built a really strong annual campaign around International Women's Day that's been really successful for them. I have another organization that uses mobility day, because that links into some work that they do around mobility and special needs, that's worked really well for them. So it could be an awareness day, it could be seasonal, I've seen organizations who do educational programming run like a program around the back to school time, because it ties in there's something timely about their message, and they ask themselves. And I would say there's also kind of more of the like, flash in the pan moments that sometimes are a little harder to predict, because they're usually dependent on what's going on in the news cycle. But sometimes there's just gonna be a really great opportunity for you to spot and to build a campaign around, if you can do it quickly. I think that sometimes that's a little harder, but I think like, you know, probably a bigger example of this would be like, you know, the Red Cross around like disaster relief, fundraising, right? Like, nobody's nobody's predicting, like how bad natural disasters are, they're gonna pay. But they happen, and there's fundraising and relief efforts that need to happen. And so they are able to run campaigns around those kinds of things. I think that that kind of fundraising takes a little bit more practice and getting your kind of identifying those opportunities. But I think that there's a real, like the timeliness around them and about what's happening and kind of a broader social, like kind of context can make it a really powerful campaign.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Sure. Like I'm sure a lot of organizations adjusted and switched things around me to movement around matter, like those types of things that were not predicted that then allow your organization to, you know, communicate your mission and continue to do, you know, more work in that area. Okay, so then if people are doing multiple campaigns, and let's just say, two things, one with the messaging, like do you recommend, like we don't want to have different messaging all the time, obviously, it needs to be timely. Make sense? But then on the flip side of that, to organizations that say, Well, we've already talked about this, we can't talk about it again, kind of, would you balance those two things?

[Vaness Chase Lockshin] Yeah, I think for me, when I work on campaign messaging, like there's always some element of evergreen messaging that's in there. Like there's some things that are just never going to change how your organization, how you do your work, how you approach it, whatever that might be. And I do want to integrate that, because that's kind of to me like the through line that I want to thread through all of the campaign's that, that people will hopefully, really integrate and know about the organization. 

And then there's also that element of like, things like it's a different time of year, like maybe things have shifted, and like what, what kind of sub message can we add to that to make that key message more relevant for someone. So I'll give you a good example. One of my clients right now is in the middle of a big campaign. They get a lot of requests for funding this time of year with school starting back up, and they work with special needs children. And so they're getting requests for things like mobility equipment, tutoring and specialized therapies. All of those are often like renewal requests for things that they asked for every school year. And so for them, one of their key messages is that the Fall is always a very busy time of year for them with school starting back up and kids having additional requests for support that they need to grant. And this year has been especially busy for them, because they recently over the summer launched a new program for funding private autism assessments for children. And they've been inundated with requests for this. And so those kinds of two messages are ones that we used in one of the campaigns that we ran recently, both because we were able to kind of tie it into what's happening right now. It's kind of like a predictable seasonal thing that always happens to this organization: they get more requests in September, October.

And there's been like, an unbelievable increase in demand because we started offering this new funding area for folks who live in British Columbia. And I think together like adding in that second message, you know, help the organization establish some more relevancy and also establish a need and an important and urgent one that that people will hopefully want to donate to.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and because you're a data nerd, right, there's something to be said to running a similar campaign year over year so that you can have metrics to track what's working well, what's not working well, and makes it easier to kind of understand when it's time to really maybe make a change to the storage retelling or the way your messaging is, is hitting people for sure.

[Vaness Chase Lockshin] And you asked me also the question about like, what what we're going to like, What would I say to organizations who say like, oh, we'd said this before, I always say to people like my, my kind of question back to them is usually like, do you remember everything that came in your inbox yesterday? Like, do you remember the text that you got last Friday? Like, do you remember like the piece of mail you got a month ago, like, just kind of think about your own user, like your own usage of these different channels, like, nobody remembers these things. Like I always tell people that the one nonprofit, I remember, for their email volume, this was like three or four years ago, it took getting something like 37 emails from them in December before I was like, I think I'm getting a lot of emails from them. Like the line, the line at which it was like, This is outrageous, like I've heard from these people so many times this month is so much further over than people think it is.  

And I think it's similar to the repetitiveness of messaging. But like, that's the function of what good messaging is, like, if you think about big corporate brands, like the messaging doesn't change, like you know them for something like they're very on message all the time. Like, that's what it means to be on message. And I think that for a lot of organizations, they feel like oh, like, we're just asking for the same thing, we're banging the same drum of need, like whatever that is, you know, but it's like, that's what you do. Like, that's your work. Like, that's what you need funding for. And like, it's okay, that that's not changing, especially if people are still donating to it. And they're still responding at similar rates that they've been into the path, like, you don't need to reinvent the wheel on that. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think there's something to be said for that consistency, because then I know, as a donor, you know, they're providing consistent work, they're providing something that I knew I was giving to you, I feel good about that, like, I'm not going to get bored. If you keep telling me that you are doing the same work. Like that means that you're doing great work. Yeah, exactly. Okay, so the last kind of thing that I wanted to touch on was, when you're talking about pulling all this together, and making sure you have it all kind of in this nice little package before you go out. You know, I know this isn't. You're not gonna say like, well, it takes two weeks, but like, you know, roughly how much time should an organization maybe plan ahead and say, Okay, well, we're gonna give ourselves, you know, three weeks before the campaign launches to pull us all together. Like Have you seen certain trends or seen successes here that might help people?

[Vaness Chase Lockshin] Yeah, I mean, I think that looking at probably at least two weeks before the cultivation phase of your campaign starts is where you want to look at for sure. I always tell people, I mean, I do copywriting professionally and so they always think of myself as like a fairly proficient and good writer and I Also know that I benefit from more time for editing because editing is where the magic happens in editing Poppy. And so I think that having more time to like mold things over strengthen your arguments like all of those things will be beneficial to you. And I know that sometimes you don't have endless time to just keep beating the dead horse of your fundraising email to whip it into perfection, right. And so I you know, I think like idealistically or ideally, I always think like, you know, probably like four or six weeks of planning and time to write and run things through approval processes within your organization is nice. And I know that that doesn't always happen. So I often will say, like, maybe in for more like, three weeks or so.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, no, I know, I find myself and I'm not a professional copywriter by any means. But I always find my copy gets better when I give myself like, I'm going to write it, I'm going to leave it alone for a couple of days, I'm going to come back. And I'm going to make edits. And I give myself a specific number of rounds of edits. Like this is like once I've done two rounds of edits, like it's going we're just gonna leave it alone.

[Vaness Chase Lockshin] Yeah, exactly.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Awesome. Well, is there anything else around kind of storytelling and messaging with campaigns and kind of making sure everything all comes together that you want to mention that maybe I didn't ask about? 

 [Vaness Chase Lockshin] I one thing I didn't mention that I'll just say kind of like more conceptually, is that I think like my philosophy about, like, how I understand and think about campaigns is that the campaign itself is telling a story. And I think about that as being more of like a narrative than like, a specific, episodic story about an individual that your organization has helped. But I think it can be really useful in the planning phase of your campaigns, just think about, like, what is the story that we plan to tell over several weeks to our audience, and with each point of contact that we have with them? How are we moving that story forward? How are we developing it a little bit more deepening somebody's knowledge about our organization, you know, kind of highlighting something from a different perspective or point of view, I think that that kind of understanding of the campaign will help you kind of get out of the trap of just saying what often feels like the same thing. Every time you contact someone. Think a little bit more creatively about each point of contact you have in that campaign. And to think about it as though you are building this bigger, conceptual story about your work and about this particular fundraising ask.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That is an excellent point. And a great way to kind of remove some of that writer's block. I think well Vanessa, thank you so much for joining me. I think there are a lot of great tips in here and whether you run lots of campaigns or you're you know trying to step it up and run your first campaign I think a great framework here for people to start with. If people want to know more about you and learn from you, how can they do that?

[Vaness Chase Lockshin] You can find me over at the storytelling non profit calm and I teach a class called the storytelling non profit masterclass, which is a deep dive into all things storytelling and fundraising. You can find that over at the storytelling non profit forward slash masterclass.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Awesome. And we'll have all these links up in the show notes so you can check those out as well. Well, thank you so much for coming on today.

[Vaness Chase Lockshin] Thanks for having me.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Big huge thank you to Vanessa for joining us and head on over to thefirstclick.net/128 to check out the show notes and to get some additional resources that Vanessa has shared. I really want to thank you for listening to this episode and listening to all the episodes so make sure you subscribe wherever you listen so you don't miss out on a single one and I'll see you in the next one.

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