The summer of 2014 will join the ranks of fundraising legend with the extraordinarily successful ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Whether you loved it, hated it, wrote a check, or threw a bucket of ice water over your head and filmed it for all to see, the Ice Bucket Challenge (IBC) could not be ignored. The last thing I read put the funds raised by the challenge at around $94 million. Wow! Take a moment for that number to sink in.

The surprise success of this campaign does force one to think of the power of peer influence, social media, and the sheer untapped value of online fundraising. Do you have an online and peer-to-peer fundraising strategy? If not, are you working on one and making it a priority?

Here are a few tips to help you get started with your own Fall, or end-of-year online fundraising campaign:

Know your story

It’s a great exercise to define your organization’s story, sleep on it, then come back the next day and simplify it. You have only a few seconds to grab the attention and heart of your potential donor so make them count.

Use these three pointers to get you started and keep you on track:

  • What is your cause?
  • Why is this cause important to you?
  • What difference will each donation make?

Keep the delivery method simple

Don’t re-invent the wheel – there are great existing social media options and technology solutions for you to use to put your request out there. Don’t take the peer-to-peer angle for granted. ASK people to share your story and link with a friend. You don’t need to challenge them to do anything more than read, watch, donate, and spread the word.

Report on results

Don’t be shy about giving regular updates throughout the length of the campaign on the results, whether good, bad, or average. Share the amount raised, the number of donors, thank the donors for their donations and for sharing your message with their peers. This reporting can be done via social media, on your website and in personal thank you emails to donors.

Get everyone involved

You already have access to a number of influencers – from your staff to your volunteers to your board members and your existing donors. Leverage them. Ask them to share your campaign via email and on their personal and professional social media pages.

Have the right software at the front-end, and back-end of your campaign

There are a number of options for online fundraising solutions, but for ease of set-up and use and thorough reporting, we have to suggest our own Abila Fundraising Online. In addition to its value as a fundraising vehicle, it also works seamlessly with Abila Fundraising 50 – a complete donor management solution. Your staff will thank you when they don’t have to manually enter all the donor information collected and will be free to carry out your mission.

If your campaign brings you new donors – and I’m almost certain it will – don’t forget to gather their information, add them to your database and reach out to them (and their peers) again (and again). The true value of an organization lies in its donor database.

Don’t forget to say thank you

A simple but sincere thank you – both individually to the donor and via social media to everyone is important. Apart from the obvious reasons, the thank you and a report on how the donations are being put to use can often spur further donations and shares.

Dream big for 2015!

With creativity, consistency and constancy, 2015 could be the year that your organization has its Ice Bucket Challenge moment.