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Flash Fundraising 101

Leveraging the News Cycle to Drive Awareness

Breaking news: a noteworthy event is happening in the world that directly affects your nonprofit and time is of the essence. Whether it be a natural disaster or the passing of a law, it’s important to be ready when the news cycle impacts your cause.

In order to effectively capitalize on a newsworthy moment, systems need to be in place to prepare, launch, and engage. These stages are crucial to effectively communicate with your supporters when you need it most!

A time-based flash fundraising campaign effectively leverages newsworthy moments to galvanize your supporters and engage new ones. It’s a significant opportunity for your nonprofit to be relevant in the news cycle and get your brand out there!

The following stages will help walk you what this process should look like.


Dropping everything at a moment’s notice to pull together a well-rounded fundraising campaign sounds like a headache waiting to happen. Avoid a half-ass job by preparing for these moments with your team in advance. Systems, process, and methods should be in place to capitalize in the first 24-48 hours.

Step 1

Start by determining the kind of impact you define as newsworthy for your organization. Consider the specific policies or issues that matter most. Where do you want to weigh in?

Step 2

Prepare for a two-week, multi-channel campaign. Developing your communications plan ahead of the newsworthy event helps you and your team, quickly move into action.

  • You want people to get familiar with your brand. Determine your voice, tone, ethos and style so messaging is consistent.
  • Think about your specific needs – copy and creative assets – by channel.
  • Segmentation is key – define your audiences and deliver relevant content.
  • Determine roles and responsibilities amongst your team so there’s no overlap when it comes time to press go.

Step 3

Make sure your tech stack is up to snuff. Properly connecting with your supporters is one of the most important pieces to the puzzle, and that requires an understanding of the technology you’re leveraging to reach them.

  • CRM: Customer Relationship Management → designate a place where you can collect donor info as it comes in.
  • Software and tracking should be in place ready to go

PRO-TIP: Consider leveraging text marketing and chat bots. These communication strategies have the highest open and engagement rate, and are worth weaving into your strategy.


Ok, it’s all systems go! The internet is buzzing, national media mentions are abundant, and it’s time for you to take action and let the fundraising begin. Assuming you’ve already determined roles and responsibilities, get ready to divide and conquer because it’s time to execute.

Step 1

While preparation is key, it’s never obvious exactly what kind of newsworthy event your organization is preparing for. You may be prepped for a natural disaster but don’t know when or how it will hit. So, take the assets you’ve compiled and tailor it to the specific situation.

  • Modify messaging and creative accordingly.
  • Build your campaign page—either through a fundraising platform, or a landing page built into your website.
  • Build audiences or leverage existing ones and place your ads.

Step 2

Define clearly who you’re speaking to, what you’re sharing, on which channel, and WHY. Consider why someone would be interested in this content, and how to motivate them to make a contribution.

As the donations roll in, be sure to welcome new donors, demonstrate impact, and above all, give thanks!


You’ve launched your campaign and your supporters showed up to bat. First and foremost, thank your donors. This is yet another crucial piece to the puzzle. It’s important to let them know that they matter, and demonstrate impact.

Step 1

Thank you cards go a long way. Services like Handwrytten and Twilio help to send personalized thank yous at scale, so you can get back to what matters.

Step 2

Screen your donors

  • Run new supporters through a wealth screening to see if they are best suited as small, mid-level or major donors for the future.
  • Make sure your database is clean – No duplicates, outdated information, etc.
  • Quantify the impact of new supporters with a multi-channeled engagement strategy that demonstrates how and why their support matters.

Step 3

Determine your next steps. Can you upgrade any of your current supporters based on their flash fundraising response?

  • Monthly giving
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising
  • Planned giving
  • In-person events

Looking to prepare a campaign with your team? Our free flash fundraising checklist will help make sure you don’t miss a piece to the puzzle.