CAVP Roots Campaign: Giving Together, Building Power

Strategies for Successful Online Giving Campaigns: CAVP Roots Campaign: Giving Together, Building Power

by Crystal Middlestadt

CAVP logo

As a small, grassroots organization with a staff of three, we at the Colorado Anti-Violence Program have found it critical to prioritize efficient and effective fundraising strategies. With a temporary shortage in staff and significant losses in foundation funding, we made the tough decision to take a year off from our annual Pancake Breakfast and instead focus our limited time on running a multi-strategy spring online giving campaign with the intention of bringing in a large amount of unrestricted funding early in the fiscal year. I coordinated the campaign, engaging key volunteers, board, and staff in developing the overall messaging and feel.

We used the local platform since they do not charge overhead fees and provide a high level of technical support. In addition, to raising funds, the campaign was a unique opportunity to cultivate and orient new board recruits, grow our base of monthly donors, re-engage donors passionate about CAVP, showcase our new website, logo and latest documentary film project.

Our goal was to raise $11,500 between April 2, 2013 and April 26, 2013 utilizing the strategies outlined below. More than two years had passed since our last online giving campaign, positioning us well to reach or exceed our goal. With an annual budget of less than $250,000, this revenue would give us a much needed boost in unrestricted funding as well as a new pool of donors to cultivate.


1.     Campaign Fundraising Team – CAVP board members, staff, volunteers, and supporters committed to personal fundraising goals of $500 or $1000. They created a personal page with a video and direct ask to send to their networks. Staff provided support by sending detailed instructions on page content and offering to record and upload personal videos at our office. Fundraisers living out of town scheduled Skype calls with staff to walk through their page set up. Each person was also asked to share contact info for potential new donors to include them in the direct mail appeal and phone bank. Click here to see the main campaign page. 

2.    Direct mail appeal– To mark the campaign launch, we sent a full color, glossy mailing to our list of about 1500 contacts highlighting program successes from 2012 and sharing a personal story from one campaign participant. We also directed people to our website and the campaign page. 

3.   Weekly E-mail updates  – I sent weekly updates on campaign progress. Each e-mail used the same template with weekly and overall campaign stats, spotlight on one campaign team member, event update, and a thermometer showing total funds raised. Click here to see the final update. 

sample e-mail update

4.    Phone Bank – Seven days into the campaign, a small team of 5 conducted a phone bank, calling donors who had given in the past few years. A board member took the lead on writing the script and providing a brief training. This strategy supported the mailing and was an opportunity to invite people to our event.

5.   Social Media and Website Updates – All weekly e-mail updates were automatically posted on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We updated our homepage weekly as well. Many campaign team members also used social media to invite people to give.

6.    Film Screening Event– CAVP’s youth organizing project, Branching Seedz of Resistance, had planned to premiere their latest film, Rainbow Warriors two days before the campaign ended. We decided to use the event to raise any additional funds needed to reach goal. The collaborative event was held at El Centro Su Teatro, a local Chicano theater company in a popular Denver Arts District and included an exhibit of artwork from a youth screen printing project, short Theater of the Oppressed play, as well as the film. 

Campaign Successes and Challenges

With an incredible team effort, we successfully raised $13,222 in three and a half weeks! This represents 54% of our total individual donor fundraising goal for the year, not including special events. Ten of our 16 team fundraisers surpassed their personal goals, an incredible number.  I would encourage other organizations to ensure a high level of support and accountability for fundraising team members. For us, this meant I sent weekly group and individual updates with fundraising tips, progress and team goals. For example, after week one, I sent an e-mail at the end of the week, encouraging us to rally from 32% to 50% of our overall goal over the weekend.  By Monday, we had reached 55% of our goal. I also called and/or sent text messages to a handful of struggling fundraisers one to two times during the campaign offering support, asking what  they were challenged by, and how I could help. A couple fundraisers held their own mini-phone bank as a result.

Keys to our success included the phone bank and a board member who stepped up to host a house party style birthday party fundraiser the last week of the campaign. The party was a huge success with about 75% of the 40 guests making a donation, bringing in over $700 and four new monthly donors. This gave us the much needed momentum at a critical point in the campaign. The phone bank raised roughly $1,500. The film event reached about 60 people and raised roughly $350. While only a handful of donations trickled in from the mailing, it did give us leverage and a reference point with donors during the phone bank and with personal asks.  We also offered an incentive to donors who gave $50 or more or who signed up to give monthly. These donors will receive a free copy of the “Rainbow Warriors” DVD. This encouraged higher level donations from many first time donors.

Final Campaign Stats and Fun Facts

  • –        More than 240 donors made 266 donations
  • –        17 new monthly sustainers collectively donating $240 EACH MONTH!
  • –        Largest gifts: Two @ $1000
  • –        83% of donations were $50 or less
  • –        Most raised by a Roots Campaign participant: $1927
  • –        Most donations in one day: 27
  • –        Most donations by one donor: 14
  • –        Donors from 26 different Colorado cities and towns
  • –        Donors from 16 states nationwide and Washington D.C.
  • –        State with most donations: California (19)

Crystal Middlestadt is the Director of Sustainability and a Co-Executive Director at the Colorado Anti-Violence Program, a statewide organization dedicated to ending violence within and against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities in Colorado. She can be reached at Visit for more information.