Crowdfunding for nonprofits is a form of alternate finance that allows nonprofits and charities to raise funds by collecting small donations from a large number of people. Originally started as a form of raising funds for entrepreneurs trying to establish their business, crowdfunding has quickly become a means for nonprofits to raise money.
Crowdfunding for nonprofits is so popular that 14% of donors worldwide have created an online fundraising campaign at some point in their giving journey. It is no surprise that crowdfunding has gained popularity considering that on a global scale, 78% of successful campaigns exceed their fundraising goal.
However, as upbeat as the statistics look, crowdfunding for nonprofits is still challenging because:
- It is labor-intensive: Crowdfunding requires you to set goals, find a suitable crowdfunding platform, craft and deploy the crowdfunding appeal, market the campaign as well as follow the campaign and make changes to optimize results. In addition to that, they need to comply with laws and tax mandates on the amount collected.
- It costs money: Crowdfunding for nonprofit and charitable initiatives costs money. Processing fees, the crowdfunding platform’s charges, etc. all need to be considered.
- It is not the same for everyone: While many nonprofits have benefitted from crowdfunding, the process does not look the same for everyone. While some may see immense success, others still need more support to ensure they hit their fundraising goals.
But, it also
- Opens up new revenue streams: Crowdfunding for nonprofits is an exciting, new way to reach out to the masses and harness the power of social media and related tools to raise funds. Especially for newer organizations, crowdfunding helps give them an initial boost in funding to sustain their efforts as they continue to establish themselves.
- Helps you with research: Crowdfunding is also an excellent way for nonprofits to identify their supporters and discover which groups of people are more likely to support them. It also helps you test your branding, brand message, and pitch to your donors – and ways to improve them over the period of your crowdfunding campaign.
- Creates a bandwagon effect: People are more likely to support you and donate to your cause once they see others donating to you. Crowdfunding and its success depend mainly on how people perceive it and how actively they support the initiative – thus also leading others in their circles to consider helping you.
Crowdfunding for nonprofits can get tricky, but we’ve compiled a list of nonprofit crowdfunding best practices that will help you create a fantastic campaign!
Essential crowdfunding for nonprofits tips:
1. Develop SMART goals:
The concept of SMART goals to achieve your targets has become increasingly popular. It helps you set metrics that are easier to follow and execute. For your crowdfunding campaign, develop goals that are:
- Specific: Wanting to raise “a lot” of money might be too vague a goal to follow through. A ‘let’s figure it out as we go’ strategy when it comes to crowdfunding might set you up to learn hard lessons eventually. Make your goals specific: Do you want to raise a million dollars? Do you want to increase your fundraising by 20%? Work towards crowdfunding for your nonprofit with these metrics in mind.
- Measurable: Great goals are measurable. You need to be able to track your progress to really say how much you’ve achieved. In the case of crowdfunding for nonprofits, a daily or weekly growth in funds collected are a starting point to track the progress your campaign has made.
- Achievable: While it may be harnessing all the powers of the universe and positive thinking to believe that you could raise large sums in a short period, in all likelihood, a goal such as that is ambitious. Figure out the kind of money campaigns such as yours have raised in a particular amount of time and set your fundraising goal accordingly.
- Realistic: When setting a goal, you need to consider how much money you require, what your skill sets are, how many volunteers or staff can dedicate time towards this campaign, and what knowledge is necessary to conduct a crowdfunding campaign for a nonprofit. With these variables in mind, goal setting becomes much more straightforward.
- Time-bound: Give your campaign a reasonable amount of time to reach your fundraising goals. Some campaigns take off immediately after they are launched, and some need to test the waters before they are optimized for success.
2. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is half the battle won because you can design your plan keeping them in mind. Crafting messages and driving your campaign according to its intended audience will be far more effective in the campaign’s success. Here are few questions to ask that will help you know your audience better:
- Who will the campaign be marketed to?
Is it a cause that younger generations are more inclined to support? Is this a campaign that people with particular political leanings will support more than the others? Knowing who to market to will help you write messages that appeal to that crowd.
- What does your average donor look like?
No, not 6 feet tall, in possession of a fortune and right out of a Jane Austen novel. Or it could be. But determine whether your average donor is a family person with kids and stable income or if they are young, working, and possess a lot of disposable income. This will help you estimate an average donation per person as well as adjust your fundraising goals accordingly.
- Who typically engages with your fundraising campaign?
Looking back at other fundraising campaigns you’ve run might give you an idea about the kind of audience that connects with your campaign. Go through your existing list of donors and identify patterns that will help you optimize your next nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
If you are a newly established nonprofit, you can benefit from researching other nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns in a field similar to yours and what kind of people engaged with them.
- Which channels are you most successful with?
Are you most successful with managing a text message campaign? Is social media your go-to platform for engaging with donors and supporters? Leverage these channels to make your crowdfunding ask.
If you’ve just begun your social media journey, keep a keen eye on the engagement you receive on different platforms. Look at other nonprofits and observe where they have received the most traction.
- Is there a new audience segment to work towards that you haven’t marketed to before?
When it comes to target marketing, there is always room to grow. As you create and execute more crowdfunding campaigns, you might discover new audiences you have not catered to before. Keep your eyes on your reports so you can identify and market to these segments in the future.
You will discover new audience segments as and when you grow, experiment and execute a number of nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns.
3. Choose the right platform for your crowdfunding campaign
Many platforms help you begin and boost your fundraising campaign. From Kickstarter to Causes to Crowdrise – different platforms offer different benefits to your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
Compare their prices, figure out the platform with the best ROI, and you are good to go. We’ve given some great recommendations that you can look into at the end.
4. Build a great story
Storytelling is an interactive bonding experience. When you share a story around your cause that is compelling, people are inclined to get involved. In the nonprofit world, stories are the best ways to bond with your donors and supporters.
Storytelling for crowdfunding needs to tell people that they are making a real, intangible difference by donating or following through with your call-to-action. In other words, you are letting your supporters know that they are a part of your story, and the saviors in it 🙂
5. Donor relationship nurturing
When beginning your nonprofit crowdfunding journey, a great step is to stay in constant touch with your previous donors and nurture your relationship with donors of the current campaign.
Set up automated thank-you emails for people who donate to your campaign, do a weekly spotlight on your highest contributors, highlight your plans for using the funds collected, or you could also share behind the scenes pictures of your ongoing projects. For example, if you are building a new shelter for rescued animals, you can share the progress of your project with your donor list on social media or by mail.
Nurturing your relationship with donors will ensure you set them up for recurring donations and ensure that they spread the word among their peers.
6. Try peer-to-peer fundraising
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a form of crowdfunding. However, it is your donors who create peer-to-peer fundraising groups that donate to your organization time and again. Also known as social fundraising, it is driven primarily by donors and supporters of an organization.
As a nonprofit organization, you could also crowdfund through peer-to-peer fundraising. Here’s how:
- Set a fundraising goal.
- Set up a main page on a peer to peer fundraising platform.
- Encourage your supporters to create their own fundraising pages under it.
- Give them resources to run the campaign successfully.
- Track progress and continually offer support to volunteers.
Always remember that peer-to-peer fundraising is driven by volunteers, and the best you can do is offer support, resources and guidance.
7. Offer incentives to donate
Donating feels good. Add to that serotonin boost by offering incentives to donate to your organization. If you are doing a massive fundraiser that will significantly impact your organization, you could offer to commemorate the most significant contributors on one of your office walls. If you are sending out email newsletters, you could list the top 3 donors, making recognition the incentive.
Vouchers, custom t-shirts, mugs, etc. are options you could explore.
8. Match funds
Some crowdfunding campaigns bring in large corporates or high-value donors who match every dollar donated. If you raise $10,000 through crowdfunding for your nonprofit, then the corporate or high-value donor could donate the same amount of money to your kitty.
Look for collaborations with businesses that have giving programs and channelize the funds to your organization.
9. Collate results and optimize
Successful crowdfunding initiatives depend on measuring progress and tracking improvements. Measure performance on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to see how you can improve and optimize your campaign.
Find out which channels bring you the most traction, which demographic segment is more likely to support you, and what locations drive most of your engagement. These data points will not only improve your current campaign but will also serve as a guide for future campaigns.
Setting up a crowdfunding campaign for nonprofits is the easier path. Marketing the crowdfunding campaign is a whole different area to tackle. We’ve got some ideas that you might want to explore.
Marketing your crowdfunding campaign
Marketing your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign is crucial to its success. The only way the crowd would fund the campaign is if they knew about it, saw their friends talk about it, and were nudged to consider donating.
We’re sharing a few time-tested ways in which you could market your nonprofit crowdfunding initiative.
1. Mass texting
The simplest way to get the word out about your fundraiser is through mass texting. The more people that your crowdfunding campaign reaches, the better. Mass texting is the best way to ensure that your message reaches thousands of people in a matter of seconds.
91% of text messages are read within the first five seconds of being delivered. With a great open rate such as that, mass texting is a great way to promote your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
For example, you can send a mass text with information about your crowdfunding campaign and encourage supporters to circulate the message among their friends and peers. You could also build a list of potential donors and send them a donation link through which they can easily and immediately donate to your organization.
2. Peer-to-peer texting
Involve your volunteers in the fundraising process by asking them to help you with peer-to-peer texting. What is P2P texting, you ask? Simply put, volunteers can send thousands of personalized messages with ease and have personal conversations with each person who replies.
A personalized approach to crowdfunding can be a great strategy to get people onboard. People can ask questions, know more about your campaign, and feel personally connected with the cause by interacting with your volunteers.
Through peer-to-peer texting, you can send images, event invites, receive RSVPs to your crowdfunding event, and much more.
3. Call high-value existing donors
Using your contact lists on your CRM system, figure out existing, potential, and high-value donors and target your calling campaigns towards them. What’s more, a calling campaign is easy to set up in just a few steps:
- Choose from a range of autodialers, selecting the one which suits your needs the best.
- Prepare a calling script.
- Train your volunteers to use the dashboard and scripts.
- Begin your calling campaign.
Reaching out to potential donors more personally through calls can ensure your message is delivered and they feel included in your campaign’s process. You can also involve them directly in fundraising efforts by asking them to donate, match donations, or set up a peer-to-peer fundraiser for their social circle which may consist of more high value individuals.
4. Send direct mail to high net worth individuals
Posting a letter might seem too old-fashioned and time-consuming, but there is something about the power of personally delivered mail that you can harness during your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.
While there are many challenges to coordinating direct mail outreach campaigns, you can simplify the process by including only those contacts with high net worth and who are very likely to donate to the campaign.
A personal letter/direct mail shows the extra effort to reach out to this individual for the fundraising initiative. Stand out from the others and send direct mail to solicit funds.
5. Harness the power of social media
Social media is the single most effective medium for your crowdfunding campaign’s outreach. Any crowdfunding campaign’s success depends on how well it is presented and how many people it reaches.
For both to happen, you must have an effective social media strategy for different platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. The more eyeballs your nonprofit fundraiser catches, the better.
An added advantage of using social media is that you can run advertisements for your post on these platforms and boost your crowdfunding post for an even more extensive reach, targeted towards specific audiences. It also allows you to present content in a more visual manner which increases engagement.
With social media, your campaign will take a life of its own, and you never know who and how many people it reaches.
6. Set up email campaigns
Email campaigns for nonprofit crowdfunding are a powerful marketing tool and can offer a lot of support throughout the lifecycle of your crowdfunding campaign. If done well, email campaigns have a great potential to convert supporters into donors.
The first 48 hours of a crowdfunding campaign are incredibly critical – setting you up for success throughout the campaign and enticing potential donors to back you. Therefore, it is vital that you start nurturing your contacts via email even before the campaign begins. Go back to your existing list and focus on building new email lists for your outreach campaign.
7. Involve your local community
Charity does begin at home, and it is your local community – family, friends, neighbors, church groups, etc. that will be the initial donors to your campaign. This group of initial believers in your nonprofit’s crowdfunding campaign will be crucial in letting other potential donors know that people are backing your campaign thus triggering the bandwagon effect.
Devise outreach initiatives directed to your local community – flyers, radio ads, etc. depending on the scale of your fundraiser.
A great option to explore and smoothen the process of crowdfunding is actively seeking donors instead of waiting for them to find you. You can do this by using the SMS opt-in feature.
Use the SMS opt-in option to channelize your text-to-donate campaign. Through this option, you can share and market a keyword unique to your organization. Your audience can text that keyword to your registered number, answer a few automated questions about their name, age, location, etc., and receive the donation link as well.
With this option, you would collect not only donations but also gather donor information that can be directed to your CRM automatically and use this information for future campaigns.
33% of all campaigns are successfully funded without video content. However, that number increases to 66% when there is video content involved. The math is simple; video content boosts the success rate of your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign immensely.
Videos are compelling because they use both visuals as well as sound to connect with the audience emotionally. If you have watched animal rescue videos online, you know what we’re talking about! There’s nothing like an emotionally provoking video where you shed a tear or two and also feel compelled to take action.
Include video explainers to your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign and watch it take off.
Now that you’re ready to launch your campaign let’s explore some of the top crowdfunding platforms for nonprofits.
Top 5 nonprofit crowdfunding platforms
Since nonprofit crowdfunding has gained a lot of popularity over the years, there are several platforms that support these campaigns. We take a look at some of the top nonprofit crowdfunding platforms.
Donorbox is a nonprofit crowdfunding platform that caters to different industries – education, church, museums, animal welfare, etc.
With Donorbox, nonprofits can:
- Customize their crowdfunding page.
- Send customized email updates.
- Include different media.
- Share updates and messages on their crowdfunding page
- Allow email sign-ups.
- Acknowledge all donations through a donor wall.
Pricing: Donorbox charges 1.5% of monthly donations + processing fees and is one of the lowest-priced crowdfunding platforms on the market.
Fundly, as their motto says, can help you raise funds for anything. Focused primarily on functionality and customization, Fundly’s strength lies in its emphasis on digital donations.
With Fundly, you can:
- Allow donors to share the fundraiser on social media.
- Include visuals and other media to improve the campaign’s appeal.
- Customize your crowdfunding page.
- Include your branding throughout the platform.
Pricing: The pricing is simple: Fundly platform fee 4.9% + credit card processing fee 2.9% + $.30/transaction.
Bonfire is an exciting crowdfunding platform because it allows nonprofits to raise funds using customized t-shirts. It ties back to our point of offering incentives to donors on each donation.
With Bonfire, you can:
- Upload your own custom designs onto their platform.
- Promote customized t-shirts on your social media, website, and other platforms.
- Allows donors to donate more than the amount quoted for the t-shirt.
- Fundraise for a nonprofit of any size, using their good quality t-shirts.
Pricing: Upon verifying your nonprofit, your processing fee reduces from 8% to 3.5%.
Chuffed was built to support people making a difference in their communities. It aims to make it easy for such people to find supporters and access funds worldwide.
With Chuffed, you can:
- Receive funds to your bank account without any additional charges.
- Create multiple crowdfunding pages under one campaign.
- Start for free.
- Send out your campaign through email, social media, etc.
- Share your progress with donors.
Pricing: Chuffed charges 2.00% of monthly donations with $0.20 processing fees.
Snowball makes it easier for donors to give by streamlining the entire giving process from start to finish. They help nonprofits of all sizes to secure more support and donations by engaging with their supporters and donors.
With Snowball, you can:
- Run a pledge campaign.
- Set up auctions for fundraising.
- Add unlimited forms per campaign.
- Include unique logos and colors in line with your brand and campaign.
- Manage supporter, staff, and volunteer information.
Pricing: Snowball’s pricing packages start at $0/year and can go up to $999/year.
Fundraising platforms ensure the process of crowdfunding for nonprofits is as smooth as possible. Depending on your many requirements, you can choose from any of these platforms to give your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign a boost.
Before you go
Crowdfunding for nonprofits is a brilliant way to raise funds in addition to other forms of fundraising. CallHub’s range of texting and calling tools has been helping nonprofits reach their fundraising goals and supporting their communication needs.
Start your 14-day free trial to use some great features for your next outreach campaign.
Featured Image Credit:Ivan Samkov