Anupam Sarkar raises funds on GlobalGiving to provide free surgeries and care to children born with cleft palates in India. His formula for success involves plenty of donor appreciation, pre-planning, and peer-to-peer fundraising.
Senior Manager for Partnerships + Communication at Mission Smile
Who He Is:
Anupam is a passionate social worker helping donors come closer to the causes they love and support. At Mission Smile, he raises funds and mobilizes donors to help children and adults born with cleft palates in India receive surgeries and get their smiles back. In his spare time, he advises orphanages and schools in fundraising best practices and volunteers as an English teacher in an orphanage in India.
Q: What is Mission Smile’s No. 1 tip for planning a successful year-end fundraising campaign?
A: Properly thank your donors throughout the year to build an engagement base when you ask for funds in December. I believe the best way to have a successful year-end fundraising campaign is to prepare for it from November onwards. Calling up donors and just saying thanks—highlighting the impact of the donations and gifts they already made—is good engagement and prepares the donor before the next ask at year end. In summary, an engaging thanksgiving is a precursor to successful year-end fundraising.
Q: Everyone wants to know the secret to attracting new donors. What yours?
A: Personalized communications is our secret. Before we can attract new donors, it is essential to understand the characteristics of existing donors who support your cause. Once you understand your donor profile, you can match it to leads and prospects, and start an engagement cycle to cultivate prospects into donors. The secret to attracting new donors lies in understanding where to find individuals who match the donor profile that works for you.
Q: Share a fundraising story from your team that makes you proud.
A: We were able to successfully implement peer-to-peer fundraising in a GlobalGiving Accelerator to raise around $33,000 in 10 days. This year, we replicated the same tactics and did much better. We raised around $25,000 in two days during a GlobalGiving Bonus Day [where GlobalGiving matches donations to projects]. Doing it one time, could be luck—but replicating it makes us mighty proud as it points to the effectiveness of the system we follow.
Q: Sometimes the best learnings come from failures! Did you try anything that didn’t work in past year-end campaigns? How did you change your approach as a result?
A: At Mission Smile, we learn so much from our experiences in failure. For instance, after experiments with paid advertising to targeted audiences on Facebook and Twitter, we finally found that Twitter gives Mission Smile better ROI than Facebook.
We also learned that our fundraising campaigns do best when we have active fundraising advocates, recruited from among our donors to lead peer-to-peer fundraising, and a large donor base.
We failed in three attempts at the Accelerator, but didn’t give up. When we had a critical mass of donors—and more importantly campaign leaders among donors with sizable networks—of their own, we succeeded. And, we didn’t even have to invest in social media.
Q: How do you vary your donation appeals based on your history and relationship with a donor?
A: For initial engagement, we use appeals related to short-term projects. After the successful completion of reporting cycle for a short-term project, we shift to appeal for donations to long-term projects and ask for annual donations from our most engaged donors. For donors who are not interested in supporting our long-term projects yet, we continue appealing for donations to our short-term projects until the relationship matures to support annual giving.
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