Crowdfunding for Nonprofits: Top Strategies & Tactics

Need to raise funds for a big upcoming project, during giving season, or for an emergency campaign? Crowdfunding is the way to go! These campaigns unlock the power of the people, using social proof and urgency tactics to raise more funds. Read this blog to learn more about crowdfunding for nonprofits, plus the strategies and tools that will lead to a successful campaign.

9 minutes read
Crowdfunding for Nonprofits: Top Strategies & Tactics

The financial stability of most nonprofit organizations is dependent upon fundraising, which may include special events, grant writing, direct mail solicitations, and much more. Crowdfunding can be an especially effective way to raise funds, especially in a short amount of time.

To be successful at crowdfunding for nonprofits, however, several strategies and tactics should be applied to your campaign. Plus, you’ll need an effective crowdfunding platform to pull it all together! Read on to learn about all this and more.

What is Nonprofit Crowdfunding?

Nonprofit crowdfunding is a form of fundraising that encourages the public to invest in your organization. It can be used for specific organizational programs or as a general fundraiser. Crowdfunding campaigns, however, perform best when given set start and end dates, as well as a financial goal. This makes them ideal for capital campaigns, year-end fundraising, emergency relief initiatives, and more.

Crowdfunding campaigns use tools like goal thermometers and donor walls to express urgency, show social proof, and raise enough to meet your goal before your deadline. On average, a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign raises $9,237.55. This can be monumental to an organization, and even more to smaller nonprofits.

Benefits of Nonprofit Crowdfunding

There are several benefits to crowdfunding for nonprofits –

  • The Bandwagon Effect – People are usually more likely to contribute money to an organization if they see that many others already support it, also known as social proof.
  • Cost-effectiveness – Crowdfunding is generally cheaper and more cost-effective than other fundraising sources, such as events, that have high overhead costs.
  • Marketing – Crowdfunding is also a valuable form of marketing and spreading awareness.
  • Testing crowd reactions – You can use your crowdfunding campaigns to test various beneficiary stories, videos, and more, gauging how your audience reacts.

How Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns Differ from Personal Crowdfunding Campaigns

Personal crowdfunding for a cause you’re passionate about differs from a professional crowdfunding campaign run by a nonprofit.

Personal crowdfunding may be geared toward a specific cause, but it does not guarantee that all proceeds will go to one organization. For example, a personal Facebook campaign to eliminate animal cruelty that raises $300 may donate $100 to three nonprofits. And, even if all of the funds go to one organization, it can take more time for the nonprofit to receive the donations.

Nonprofits should not bank on personal fundraisers bringing in the vast majority of donations.

That’s where nonprofit crowdfunding comes into play: the organization generates the campaign and directly reaps the rewards. While funds may be split between different aspects of the nonprofit – such as advocacy and educational programs – all donations collected go directly to the organization.

Crowdfunding for Nonprofits – Top 8 Tips

Here are the top eight tips and strategies to take your crowdfunding campaign to the next level.

1. Hone in on what you want to accomplish

The first step in creating a crowdfunding campaign? Hammer out the details in advance. How much are you hoping to raise? Do you have an ideal amount of donors you’d like to bring in? Are you hoping to convert one-time donors to recurring donors?

It is crucial to have answers to all of these questions in advance, otherwise, you risk being overwhelmed by small details that will hinder your success once you have launched.

Discuss these objectives with your team members and run ideas by your board. You want everyone to be on the same page before you execute your plan!

Pro tip: Create a shared document – in your company folder, a Google doc, or another program – that everyone can edit. This reduces the likelihood of someone missing a meeting, misunderstanding objectives, or forgetting what was discussed.

2. Choose the right crowdfunding platform for your nonprofit

If you don’t have the tools to crowdfund, your crowdfunding campaign won’t go far! There are several crowdfunding platforms designed specifically for nonprofits. All have different features and pricing. Do your research and find the one that works best for your organization and your goals!

Below are our top three crowdfunding platforms on the market today. Click here for our full list!

2a. Donorbox

Donorbox is widely popular with nonprofits in various spaces. The crowdfunding feature lets nonprofits fully customize their page and form with brand colors, logos, images, videos, content, and more. Features like a goal thermometer, donor wall, and social sharing buttons unleash the power of social proof and encourage more donations. Plus, Donorbox Crowdfunding offers the ability to not only publish updates but also send them to donors and subscribers via email.

Here’s how Donorbox Crowdfunding works –

Get started with Donorbox Crowdfunding

2b. Fundly

Fundly is all about functionality and customization, focusing mainly on digital donations. Nonprofit users can easily share the campaign on their social media channels to help reach potential donors, and it’s simple for donors to share as well. You can also customize your donation page with photos and videos, so your campaign will look exactly how you imagined and will be branded to your organization.

2c. Classy

Classy is a popular platform that strives to make the crowdfunding process easy for nonprofits. Their completely customizable campaign pages don’t require any coding knowledge to edit, plus they offer branded receipts and fundraising campaign emails. Classy’s crowdfunding pages also feature a campaign activity wall to recognize donors, as well as the ability to add impact blocks that showcase the effect donors will have on your mission.

3. Use video to inspire the crowd

nonprofit crowdfunding tips

Most crowdfunding websites allow you to embed videos as an introduction to the organization and its mission. Plus, crowdfunding campaigns that utilize videos raise 150% more than those that don’t have videos!

Here are a few tips to help you produce the best fundraising video possible – find more in this blog.

2.1 Open with a fact

Is there a statistic that makes a point, is surprising, or will immediately hook the viewer? Lead with that. The goal is to capture their attention and draw them in within the first 15 seconds. Avoid opening with a lot of text or a boring message – engagement is king.

2.2 Don’t overshadow the message

Executive director and board member statements have a large influence on viewers, especially when there’s a face to the name. However, they should be the B-story or narrator, rather than the focal point. While it can be inspiring to hear why the team member does what they do, the focus should be on what the organization provides.

2.3 Showcase your beneficiaries

Representation means showcasing who you’re helping. Is it disenfranchised youth? Women’s reproductive rights? Animals? Whatever it is, capture this community on film and integrate it into your video. If you don’t have the ability to film them directly, there is plenty of stock footage online, or use your director or board member to tell their story.

2.4 Include your ask

Don’t end the video without voicing your ask. Sure, you can include this in the description, but remember: your video captivates the audience. Pad it with how it relates to your mission and campaign goal. Is it $1,000 to provide hot meals to the homeless? Or $3,000 to provide medical care to stray cats? Your viewers won’t know what you want them to do (donate!) unless you tell them.

Pro tip: It’s worth it to hire a professional videographer for this, as you will want it to be high quality and edited to have the most impact on the audience. Find videographers whose work you are impressed by and reach out. Compare rates and work, then get input from the rest of your team.

3. Gather testimonials

The people, animals, or places you’re helping are your greatest selling points. To bring the point home, share testimonials from those you’ve supported directly or stories about how the animals or places you have served have improved.

Have the beneficiary speak about their struggle, the nonprofit’s goals, and how the nonprofit has had a positive effect on them. You can have individual speakers or a group – both will have an impact. If you don’t serve people, ask volunteers to speak about their first-hand experiences with your mission.

Remember – this is also great content to include in your video. Have your professional videographer come with you to interview those you’ve helped.

4. Turn one-time donors into recurring donors

One of the top ways to keep donors coming back? Communication. When someone donates to your campaign, personally thank them via email or thank-you letter.

You should also send regular updates about your campaign. Updates should include what you’ve accomplished so far with the donations, what the next goal is, and a sentence or two of gratitude. These reminders will put you at the forefront of their minds, and different goals will inspire them to give more. The right platform will make updating your donors easy!

Also, look for a fundraising platform – like Donorbox – that makes setting up recurring donations on your crowdfunding page quick and easy. Add up to four intervals on your form and allow your donors to choose to automatically give to your organization – again and again – by setting up a recurring giving plan. They can log in anytime to change or cancel their recurring donation!

Watch this video as we share seven pro tips to turn one-time donors into recurring givers –

5. Match funds

According to The Big-Give Research Initiative, 84% of donors reported being more inclined to give should their donation be matched. And one in three donors said they’d give a larger donation if they knew matching was applied.

Take note of any donors who make regular, large donations. Contact them and propose that they offer matching funds for your campaign. It might be one donor or a combination of donors. Then, announce that all donations up to a designated amount will be matched dollar-for-dollar within a designated time period to convey urgency.

Want to make it even easier? Add company matching to your Donorbox donation form! Simply add an embeddable company search widget and anyone can check to see if their employer will match their gift. Then, the donor will receive the instructions they need to follow to submit their gift to their company for matching.

successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns

Pro tip: You can pitch this to larger donors in exchange for a mention of them and/or their company – visibility can definitely entice a potential partner!

6. Make the impact tangible

successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns

When you show the tangible effects of your donors’ contributions, they will be more likely to give – and possibly give more. On your donation form, add a few suggested ask amounts and mention the impact that amount will have. Does $50 buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family? How many rounds of antibiotics for pets does $100 cover?

Do this for all suggested gift amounts – on top of convincing them to donate more, you may turn a one-time donor into a recurring donor because they are passionate about what they provide to the nonprofit over time!

7. Promote!

crowdfunding strategy for nonprofits

Something that may slip through the cracks when putting on a massive campaign is regularly promoting your campaign.

One of the best ways to get the word out about your crowdfunding campaign is social media. Mentioning it one or two times throughout the campaign is not enough – you should have a regular posting schedule, with multiple – but diverse – posts a day on some platforms.

For Twitter, aim to tweet one to two times a day. Post to your Instagram four to five days a week, but regularly reference the campaign in your stories; do the same for Facebook.

Do you have rewards for donors? While most donors are driven to give to support the mission, some will always want the t-shirt. Use some of your posts to mention a tangible benefit to the donor.

Finally, in each newsletter and email that you send out, save space to mention the campaign. It doesn’t have to be flashy, but it should be noticeable. Plus, be sure to plan at least three emails dedicated to your campaign – one to kick it off, another about halfway through to remind your donors, and a third towards the end with a final urgent call to give.

Dodge These Mistakes

Of course, mistakes may be made – that’s how we learn! Try to avoid the following for a more successful campaign.

1. Lack of information

If you do not have information about your nonprofit and your goal posted within the fundraiser, donors may pause. Leaving your donors to guess where their donations go can put them off – they may even leave your campaign page without giving. Assurance and clarity can go a long way!

2. Forgetting to use social media

You should regularly post about your campaign – and your mission in general – on social media. Social media is one of the strongest forms of self-promotion, so don’t hesitate to announce your campaign multiple times on all platforms. And don’t forget about email: Over half of people who receive an email about a crowdfunding campaign donate.

3. Not updating your donors

Don’t forget to update your donors – they want to see how they’re helping you to accomplish your goal. Share pictures, tell stories, thank them for their generosity – anything to let them know you appreciate their contributions. Stats back it up: Crowdfunding campaigns get 126% more donations when owners update supporters, and campaign owners raise three times more if they update supporters every 5 days.


Crowdfunding campaigns can be extremely lucrative when crafted, promoted, and executed properly. A successful campaign requires up-front research to select the platform that best meets your financial and visual needs, a clear message that inspires action, creative and constant promotion by the organization, and consistent communication with campaign donors.

Donorbox Crowdfunding has the tools you need to succeed with your next campaign. With tools like goal thermometers, donor walls, email updates, social sharing buttons, customizable pages, and much more, you’ll be sure to put the strategies above into action in no time.

Check out the rest of our Nonprofit Blog for fundraising tips, nonprofit how-to guides, appeal templates, and more!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What are the best crowdfunding sites for nonprofits?

Donorbox, Classy, CauseVox, Donately, Chuffed, and GoFundMe Charity are some of the best crowdfunding sites available for nonprofits. They help you raise funds quickly for your specific needs and update your donors along the way.

But if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, Donorbox is the right choice for you; it’s cost-effective, user-friendly, secure, customizable, and a great way to manage your donors.

2. How do I set up a crowdfunding page?

Setting up a crowdfunding page is a breeze with Donorbox; it takes only 15 minutes to create a campaign and turn on the ‘crowdfunding’ feature. Afterward, you can easily add your story, share images/videos, and post updates for your donors on the page. Non-donors can subscribe to the campaign, and you can send regular email updates to them and your donors.

Features like social media buttons, a goal thermometer, and a donor appreciation wall make the crowdfunding experience outstanding for you and your donors. Learn more on how to set up a crowdfunding page here.

3. Which crowdfunding platform has the lowest fees?

Considering all available options, Donorbox is one of the most affordable. It’s free to start, and our platform fee on our Standard Plan is just 1.75%. Learn more about our pricing here.

Additionally, payment processing fees are deducted based on the payment gateways i.e. Stripe, PayPal, or ACH bank transfers. But with Donorbox, you can always ask your donors to cover the processing fees.

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Raviraj heads the sales and marketing team at Donorbox. His growth-hacking abilities have helped Donorbox boost fundraising efforts for thousands of nonprofit organizations.

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