The financial stability of most nonprofit organizations is dependent upon fundraising, which historically included special events such as walk-a-thons, galas, and auctions, along with grant writing and direct mail solicitations.
In 2020, crowdfunding has become the new normal in our digital, COVID-age. There are plenty of ways to create an engaging crowdfunding platform, but there are many details you’ll need to tend to in order to get the most out of your campaign.
- What is Nonprofit Crowdfunding?
- Benefits of Nonprofit Crowdfunding
- How Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns Differ From Personal Crowdfunding Campaigns
- Top 8 Tips For Nonprofit Crowdfunding
- Dodge These Mistakes
What is Nonprofit Crowdfunding?
Nonprofit crowdfunding is a form of fundraising encouraging the public to invest in your organization. It can be used for specific programs within the organization or a general donation to the cause.
Crowdfunding has become more popular recently. $9,237.55 is the average amount a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign raises, reports Nonprofit Source. This can be monumental to an organization, and even more to smaller nonprofits.
Benefits of Nonprofit Crowdfunding
With COVID-19, in-person events are no longer an option. This can be troublesome for nonprofits that rely on events and face-to-face meetings. With a little creativity, a clear goal in mind, and a clean interface, crowdfunding can replace the crucial in-person events you’re missing.
- The Bandwagon Effect- People are usually more prone to contribute money if they see that many others are already doing it.
- It is cost-effective- Crowdfunding is generally cheaper and more cost-effective than other sources of fundraising. It is a fast way to raise funds without any upfront fees.
- Marketing- Crowdfunding is also a valuable form of crowdfunding and can result in media attention.
- Alternate source of fundraising- crowdfunding is an alternate source of fundraising if you have a hard time getting loans.
- Testing crowd reactions- Crowdfunding is also a great way to test if your idea works and get valuable feedback.
How Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns Differ From Personal Crowdfunding Campaigns
Personal crowdfunding for a cause you’re passionate about differs from a professional crowdfunding campaign.
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 geared toward eliminating animal cruelty that raises $300 may donate $100 to three different nonprofits.
There’s nothing wrong with this, and your nonprofit will be grateful for any amount of funds. But nonprofits should not bank on personal fundraisers bringing in the vast majority of donations.
That’s where nonprofit crowdfunding comes into play: they generate the campaign and reap the rewards directly. While funds may be split between different aspects of the nonprofit – such as advocacy and educational programs – all funds go directly to the organization.
Just make sure to keep in mind that both types of fundraisers are crucial to keep nonprofits going.
Pro Tip: When someone hosts a fundraiser, make sure to reach out and thank them personally, and absolutely share their campaign among your circle. This can be shared via email and social media.
Top 8 Tips For Nonprofit Crowdfunding
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? 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 as well. 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, therefore reducing the likelihood of someone missing a meeting, misunderstanding objectives, or simply forgetting what was discussed.
2. Choose the Right Platform
There are plenty of crowdfunding sites specifically for nonprofits, such as Fundly and CauseVox. All have different features and pricing. Do your research and see which nonprofits are using certain platforms and why. Here are our top 5 crowdfunding platforms:
Donorbox is introducing its crowdfunding feature in supporting nonprofits to further engage donors and potential donors. Donorbox is widely popular with nonprofits in various spaces- education, museums, churches, animal welfare among many others. The crowdfunding feature lets nonprofits customize the crowdfunding page, send customized email updates, add compelling media. Nonprofits can share updates and messages on their crowdfunding page and anyone can sign up for their email updates. The platform also provides a donor wall- acknowledging all donations. It is priced lowest in the market with 1.5% of monthly donations plus transaction fees.
Fundly is about functionality and customization, with the main focus on digital donations. Those who donate can share the campaign with their social media to help reach potential donors. You can also customize your donation page with media, so your campaign will look exactly how you imagined and will be branded to your organization. There is one price for all: a platform fee of 4.9 percent, a credit card processing fee of 2.9%, and a $0.30 per-transaction fee.
Classy is a very popular platform that is based on making the crowdfunding process easy for nonprofits. Their website also offers resources for nonprofits, such as guides, webinars, and Giving Tuesday resources. Educating nonprofits is near and dear to Classy’s core. All prices are customizable – answer some questions about you and your nonprofit, and someone from Classy will get in touch with you to discuss pricing options.
CauseVox backs up their success by focusing on the stats. Did you know that in the past two years, there’s been a 24 percent growth in online donations? Or that in 2018, mobile giving increased by an astonishing 205 percent? The point: CauseVox understands the importance of digital donations. CauseVox has three packages: Basic, Standard, and Plus. Basic has no cost per month, and there is a 0% platform fee.
Donately is hip to the system. Similar to other platforms, Donately allows custom forms, fundraising pages, and donor management capabilities. Where they take it up a notch: they have a text messaging platform. This can help with increasing donations and peer-to-peer fundraisers, among other positive effects.
Pro Tip: There are tens of different platforms that you can use, so do thorough research prior to picking out a platform. Key things to consider: visual layout, ease in customizing platform, platform fees, and credit card/transaction fees.
3. Use Video for Crowdfunding
Most crowdfunding websites allow you to embed videos as an introduction to the organization and its mission. And, crowdfunding campaigns with personal videos raise 150% than those that don’t have videos.
This will be one of the first parts of your campaign that people will see, so it is vitally important to create a thorough, short-and-sweet, to-the-point, and pleasing-to-the-eye introductory video. Crowdfunding campaigns with personal videos raise 150% than those that don’t have videos. (Nonprofit Source)
3.1 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 plenty of text or a sterile message – engagement is king.
3.2 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 as a whole provides.
3.3 Showcase the Community You’re Helping
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; scour the internet for relevant clips.
3.4 Include Your Ask
Don’t end the video without voicing your ask. Sure, you can include this in the description, but remember: your video is what’s captivating 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? It won’t come off as pushy if it’s relevant to the overall mission.
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 nonprofit’s team.
4. Gather Testimonials
The community you’re helping is your greatest selling point. To bring the point home, have testimonials from those you’ve supported directly.
Have the community speak about their struggle, the nonprofit’s goals, and how the nonprofit has had a positive effect on the community. You can have individual speakers or a group – both will have an impact.
This is also great content to include in your video. Have your professional videographer come along with you to interview those you’ve helped, then add these to your introduction.
5. Turn One-Time Donors Into Recurring Donors
One of the top ways to keep donors coming back: communication. When someone donates to your campaign, make sure to personally reach out and thank this person. Chances are, they were simply expecting updates through the platform (and if you aren’t updating – consider doing so!), so a personal “thank you” will go a long way.
When thanking your donor, use their name, explain what their donation will go toward, and give them the option to become a recurring donor. Acknowledge why it would be helpful for you and which facets of your organization the donations would be applied to.
As mentioned, you should update your campaign regularly. Based on the platform you choose, you may have the option to email the updates to the donors.
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.
Pro Tip: These reminders should not replace your personal thank you!
6. Match Funds
According to The Big-Give Research Initiative, 84% of donors reported that they were 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. It might be one donor, or a combination of donors – no matter what, that 84% can make or break nonprofits’ fundraising. Announce that all donations up to a designated amount will be matched dollar-for-dollar within a designated time period to convey urgency.
Donorbox donation forms allow you to set up donation matching in by simply adding an embeddable company search widget. It is really quick and easy.
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.
7. Make the Impact Tangible
Suggest pre-set tiers of payment, and mention the impact the amount will affect. Does $50 buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family? How many antibiotics for pets does $100 cover? When people know what they’re donating to, they’re more likely to donate more.
Do this for all suggested price points – 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 are providing to the nonprofit.
8. Promote, Promote, Promote
Something that may slip through the cracks when putting on a massive campaign: regularly promoting your campaign on 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.
As you are promoting the crowdfunding campaign, make sure to place your Call to Action effectively. Most social media platforms let you place a donate button. For example, Facebook allows you to add a donate button with your fundraiser posts. You can add your Donorbox donate button on Twitch. Your promotional emails must include a donate button that links to your crowdfunding page.
Do you have rewards for donors? While most donors are driven to give to support the mission, there are those who 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.
Dodge These Mistakes
Of course, there are always accidental mistakes. 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 with the fundraiser, donors may pause. Leaving your donors to guessing where their donations are going can put them off. they may be donating to support a specific program that is close to them but might be worried that their donation will go toward a different program. Assurance and clarity can go a long way!
2. Use Social Media
You should also be posting on social media on a regular basis. 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 made a donation.
3. Update 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’re appreciative. 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. (Nonprofit Source)
Crowdfunding 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.
While in-person events may be canceled, the giving spirit has not. And lucky for you: Donorbox will soon launch a feature to help nonprofits fundraise via crowdfunding, thus increasing funds for nonprofits’ various projects! Watch the blog closely for updates.