March 24, 2020

How to run a successful emergency fundraising campaign

When disaster strikes, you need to hit the ground running. Whether your charity deals with natural disasters or humanitarian crises, the key to raising funds in an emergency is solid planning. With people and processes primed well in advance, you’ll be sure to raise donations rapidly and direct them to where they’re needed. In this post, we’ll give you some pointers on how to spring-load your emergency fundraising campaign. 



As soon as the event occurs, everyone needs to know what their role is. A successful emergency fundraising team is made up of various positions, each with an individual set of responsibilities. Here are the main ones to establish before a disaster occurs: 


  1. Campaign Leader – This individual makes the decisions. In an emergency situation, decisions need to be made fast and efficiently, and so any review processes need to be shortened as much as possible. The campaign leader is responsible for setting the target and overall strategy, as well as delegating supporting roles. They’re responsible for ensuring all activity complies with protocols established before. Whilst the situation might come out of the blue, the response of the campaign leader certainly won’t. 
  2. Spokesperson – Emergency situations attract a lot of media attention. A spokesperson ensures that your organisation’s efforts are communicated clearly to the public and any other third parties, keeping the discussions and media attention on the crisis at hand 
  3. Digital Coordinator – In a similar vein to the media, as we’ll see, the internet plays a big part in any emergency fundraising strategy. A digital coordinator ensures that your organisation is firing on all cylinders (and in the right direction) online, whether that be your own website or on social media. 


Emergency email fundraising 

Most people first hear about an emergency situation through email. Dispatching a fundraising email to an existing mailing list should be one of the first actions of an emergency fundraising campaign – it’s instant and can kickstart the beginning of a substantial inflow of first-round donations. 


A smart move at this stage is to set up your mailing tool to record who makes donations. Not only does it let you know who’s more likely to donate for future fundraising calls, it means you can continue to target those who haven’t in this run. 

The information in the email should be clear and concise. Outline what’s happened, how much money you need to raise, and specifically what you want to do with their donations (donors like to know where their money is going). 

Going forward, make sure to provide updates to your mailing list. Not only will this keep your donors (and potential donors) informed of what you’re doing, it also allows you to continue asking for further funds if needed.


Social media

With most of the planet hooked up to social media, it’s an essential component of any emergency fundraising campaign. 


Facebook announced last year that more than £780 million had been raised through its site using the donate button. If your charity has a Facebook profile (if it doesn’t, sort it out!), include one of these to bolster your funds. 

On a side note, though, it’s useful to know that donating through Facebook might leave you with less than if donors sent their money through other means (as they charge charities a fee). Plus any donations may take longer to arrive in your organisation’s account (up to two weeks)  – quite fundamental in an emergency situation. 

To spread your word far and wide, don’t miss out any of the major platforms. A link to your website’s donation page can be embedded in Instagram bios and descriptions, and Twitter can be used to gain a wider audience. At the beginning of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami crisis a tweet from the DEC managed to raise £8 million in the first five days of the campaign! 

Try going viral. A Tweet WWF UK shared following the Australia fires went viral over-night and went on to raise £1 million for the emergency fund that followed. Reacting quickly but in a considered way that resonates with people is an incredibly valuable tool in the emergency fundraisers toolbox.


Street fundraising 

The web undoubtedly offers the fastest way to get the message out in a time of crisis, but don’t overlook traditional street fundraising entirely. Trust in charities has been falling over the past few years, and going back to basics with honest face-to-face engagement is one way to combat this trend. Alongside a mini-army of street fundraisers ready to be deployed at short notice, having a few fundraising event plans prepared in advance will definitely help in the mid-term.

Whilst a street team is key in most emergency fundraising situations, bear in mind that it’s not currently possible during the coronavirus epidemic. With strict rules limiting social interaction, the best way to raise funds is over the web. 

Regardless of how or where your face-to-face emergency fundraising takes place, using the right tech will turbo boost your donations. GoodBox’s contactless tap-to-give terminals allow passersby to donate without having to dig around for spare coppers in their pockets and bags. Importantly, it also gives you instant visibility on how much is coming in and from where. The GoodBox Portal tracks and analyses donation data in realtime, meaning you can adapt your emergency fundraising strategy on the fly. 

Need ideas? Check out our previous article on weird and wacky fundraising inspiration


Emergencies can strike at any time, and your charity needs to be on the front foot when they do. Responding with a crystal-clear plan prepared well in advance is the key to raising funds. By combining a rapid emailing campaign with smart use of social media and on-the-ground fundraising, your emergency fundraising campaign will get out of the starting blocks with a bang. 


GoodBox is dedicated to helping charities move with the times and away from relying on cash donations. Fewer people are using notes and coins these days, preferring cards and smartphones instead. Our technology responds to this by offering them a quick and easy way to donate, avoiding the need to rummage around for spare change. If your organisation isn’t in a position to take the plunge with our tech right now, but you’d like to prepare it for when things calm down, please get in contact with our team and we can support you in putting together a contactless fundraising strategy. 


whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London