Top Tips | Digital fundraising

7 top tips to nailing that nomination campaign

So you want to be the organisation behind the next nomination campaign? Here are some tips to get your own #IceBucketChallenge off the ground.

By Reason Digital · December 16, 2014

Coming up with a great charity nomination campaign can be difficult. If you’re a smaller charity and you don’t have the funds to run massive marketing campaigns, getting your message across can feel like an impossible task. Traditional media such as television and radio are costly but often effective mediums that have been used to raise awareness for years.

In the past few years, we’ve seen remarkable campaigns all across the internet. The most recent trend that has been captivating people’s imaginations has been that of charity nominations – where you get your supporters involved and spreading your message in the form of a fun and simple campaign.

But that’s no easy task. Even if you have a great idea, it’s not like we all have spontaneous crowds ready to help it go viral on your behalf – some of the best campaigns grew from supporters, and not the charities themselves.

But not every charity can rely on that once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence. So what can you do to get that nomination campaign going?

a dog smiling upside down

Make it fun

Simply put, if no-one wants to complete your challenge, then few people are going to. Your strongest supporters, those willing to really go out of their way to support you will, but the vast majority of people aren’t going to do it without reason. That’s why you need to make sure that your challenge has a wide ranging appeal. People already have their goals and aspirations, so take note from them. Give people an excuse to do something they want to do, or something that matters to them.

For instance, the #IceBucketChallenge was seen by many as a chance to show off how tough they were, many prided themselves on how stoically they withstood a torrent of icy water. Similarly #NoMakeupSelfie appealed to women the world over, inspiring them to share barefaced selfies to raise money for Cancer Research. If you can find a campaign that can highlight people’s strengths then it’s got a great chance of doing well.

Start the ball rolling

Every nomination campaign’s effectiveness is based on the power of the voices behind it. If a stranger nominates you to do a challenge, chances are you’re not going to do it.

So how do you get that first load of people, those trailblazers who will get set the foundations on which your campaign will build on, to get involved?

Well, the easiest way is to nominate those people who are close to you; your family, friends and charity patrons are all great starting places. Hopefully they’ll support your cause and then spread the word to their friends and family, and slowly you’ll build up a bit of steam.

lightbox saying you got this


There’s a certain vanity to many charitable acts, which we’re happy to ignore. Giving to those less fortunate makes us feel good about ourselves, it gives us a sense of pride in ourselves. When completing a nomination challenge there’s an extra bit of satisfaction from knowing that we’ve completed a challenge.

If we record a video or take a picture then that becomes a trophy for us, something which we can look back on and smile about. When we share this with people, it makes us feel like we are in the spotlight. Even if only five people see it, we still feel like the eyes of the world are on us.

That’s something to be encouraged, because when people feel like they are making a difference, that gives them the confidence to go out and do so. Your strongest advocates are those who not only believe in you, but also in themselves. Help them feel awesome for supporting you, help give them a platform by thanking and sharing where appropriate.

Foster friendly competition

When a nomination campaign starts getting shared around there’s a positive feeling, a sense of camaraderie that springs from people all working together towards a cause. There’s also a gleeful sense of competition when comparing with others who have also completed the challenge. This competitive co-operation often brings out the best of people and makes them more creative when facing their nominations. Make sure to nurture both the sense of cooperation and the sense of competition equally.

Amplify your message

Back in the day the best way to spread a message was via hashtags, they allowed a large group of people who don’t know one another learn and discuss a particular topic. The only social media site that supported Hashtags was Twitter though, which is one of the reasons why it became one of the most popular places for sharing opinions.

Times have changed though and other social networks have taken their slice of the hashtag brownies. It no longer makes sense to limit yourself to one social media site, especially when you can use hashtags interchangeably across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Make sure to make your presence heard across as many sites as possible and you will encourage your supporters to do the same.

Tagging users in posts where appropriate can also bring your campaign to their attention, hopefully encouraging them to share and get more involved.

social media influencer taking a selfie

Target influencers

On social media, not everyone is entirely equal. Some people hold a much greater influence than others. While it’s easy to think that celebrities and people with a higher number of followers are the people with the most online clout, sometimes that’s not the case. Someone may have 100,000 followers, but if none of them pay attention, then that’s as good as zero.

Compare that to someone with a loyal fanbase of 1,000, where every single one listens, and it’s obvious which has the most valuable following. Make sure when you target influencers that you look not only at how they engage with their followers but also how relevant they are to your cause. If you’re an animal charity then you’re going to have a lot more success if you’re being promoted by well-known animal bloggers than if you’re being promoted by gear-heads.

Often an influential social media user, sometimes a celebrity, is the tipping point that turns a nomination campaign from something a charities supporters are doing and turns it into an international phenomenon.

Be patient

When you’ve been planning something for months or even years on end you want immediate gratification when you finally release it. If there isn’t instant positive feedback from the world, it can be disheartening. The thing with nominations though, is that it’s designed to be a slow process. One person starts then passes it on to three more, if you’re lucky those three will each pass it on to another three, and the amount of people taking part will grow exponentially. That’s the ideal situation, participation slowly building from just one small voice to a chaotic cacophony of chatter.

This is pretty unlikely to happen the first time. What’s more likely is that first voice will be ignored. The second voice will probably be ignored too. But after a while, these small voices will all add up and if you’ve done everything right, and more than a little bit of luck, then you may have a success on your hands.

The more people you get to participate in your campaign, and the more campaigns you do, the better your chances are.

So do you think you’ll be behind the next nomination campaign? We nominate you to give it a go.