A generation of slacktivists? [slacker + activist]

That is how many organizations see Millennials. We’re great for sharing information about a cause on Twitter or helping YouTube videos go viral, but, other than that, we are useless to fundraising efforts.

What if the problem with Millennials and fundraising isn’t that our generation doesn’t care enough to actually give? Rather, we want to go about it in a different way. We want to use the resources we have – our friends, our family and our social networks – to help support a cause. Peer fundraising is the best way to raise money from this new generation of supporters, and a few organizations are already harnessing this strategy.

LiNK (Liberty in North Korea) is a human rights organization that physically rescues North Korean refugees and helps resettle them in South Korea or the United States so they can avoid being forcibly repatriated back to North Korea, where they can face harsh punishments as a result of illegally immigrating.

Shockingly, LiNK actually raises most of their funding from donors under the age of 30. How is possible to raise dollars from a generation often associated with limited income and lack of putting their money where their mouths are? They execute creative, well-coordinated peer fundraising campaigns that utilize technology, messaging, design and storytelling.

Last Fall, LiNK executed their most successful online fundraising campaign to date, and they’re sharing some of the lessons they learned on how to activate young cause enthusiasts to become more than just “slacktivists.”

Strategic Email Campaigns still work!

First, LiNK developed a robust email strategy that utilized automated email to encourage their fundraisers along the way. At the start, each person received a personalized donation page where they could send their friends and family to donate.

Next, they segmented fundraisers into three buckets; after email one and the following emails changed depending on their actions and fundraising success. These three buckets also represent key strategies and lessons that can make any peer fundraising a success for your organization.

Lesson #1: Strike While The Iron’s Hot (Pre-Donation Emails)

A person won’t ever be as motivated to raise money for you as when they first sign up. LiNK sent most of their emails within the first week of the campaign. Not only does this motivate your passionate fundraisers and keep them mindful of their commitment, it also filters out the individuals who won’t be active in the campaign.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.47.03 AM


Once an individual signed up to raise money and get their own donation page, they received an email every day within the first week until they raised their first dollar.

In doing this, LiNK sought to motivate the fundraiser while their interest was still at its peak. This strategy also allowed the organization to effectively sort out who their most committed fundraisers were and prioritize ongoing communication with those individuals. Another reason for this strategy: LiNK discovered earlier that if an individual recruited at least one donor in the first week, a second or third would quickly follow.

For fundraisers who didn’t raise any money after the first week and remained in this first bucket, LiNK scaled back communication and instead sent out bi-weekly emails. By the end of the fourth week, if an individual hadn’t raised any money, they received an email asking them to make a donation instead:

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.47.36 AM

Lesson #2: Customize and Encourage (Progress Emails)

Customize your email messaging as much as possible. LiNK designed 300 emails for one campaign! That is a lot of work going into a campaign, but it worked to specifically target fundraisers at exactly the right point in time with exactly the right messaging they needed.

Once an individual received their first donation, LiNK sent them a congratulatory email. After that, each fundraiser received progress emails at each benchmark toward their goal – 25%, 50%, 75% and finally a “YOU DID IT!” email once the fundraiser reached their goal.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.52.13 AM

“The progress emails we sent out were incredibly impactful because they kept our fundraisers highly engaged and encouraged throughout the campaign,” – LiNK Vice President Justin Wheeler.

Lesson #3: Provide All Tools & Resources (Campaign Update Emails) 

There should be absolutely no boundaries keeping your fundraisers from asking for money on your behalf. Give them the tools and resources they need in a simple, easy-to-use online kit. LiNK’s fundraising kit includes logos, social media graphics and messages, email messaging, images, tips, videos and everything a person would need to represent the cause.

Throughout the campaign, LiNK sent bi-monthly updates to give fundraisers new tricks and tips for fundraising from their peers, as well as what the campaign had accomplished so far. These emails kept fundraisers in the loop, offered the bigger picture and most importantly provided the resources fundraisers need to meet their goals successfully

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.53.28 AM

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 10.54.29 AM

By the end of the campaign, LiNK had sent out over 300 individually designed emails over the course of the campaign. And the results of this peer fundraising campaign speak for themselves:


LiNK’s campaign represents a new direction in the world of fundraising – one that organizations should embrace if they want to facilitate the next generation of donor relationships. Are you invested in raising money from your next generation of donors? Peer fundraising is the key to LiNK’s success as an organization and their strategies are applicable to anyone ready to invest in a robust peer fundraising campaign.

Check out Derrick Feldmann’s latest blog on peer fundraising, “The Future of Fundraising is Peer-to-Peer.” Do you need help with your next fundraising campaign? Read about Achieve’s services and let’s start a conversation.

Jonathon Hosea is community and content manager at Achieve, a division of Forte Interactive.