Crowdfunding for Non Profits: 6 Things You Need To Know
Crowdfunding is essentially raising funds from donors to fund an initiative or charity events, often done online. Does crowdfunding for non profits work? Definitely!
When used tactically, crowdfunding helps non profits to expand their donor base and increase their overall funding and consequently their impact.
Another advantage of crowdfunding for non profits is that it helps in reaching new audiences and finding committed donors.
What is Online Crowdfunding?
Online crowdfunding takes place on websites that allow organizations and individuals to post projects accompanied by photos and descriptions to invite donations from people interested in their causes.
Online crowdfunding has a huge potential of reaching a much more diverse audience than a non profit would using mainstream fundraising methods.
Online crowdfunding allows you to easily share your project on other online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
Another form of online crowdfunding is the Live crowdfunding, that features live events where non profits pitch their causes to those attending the live events. The participants can then pledge donations in an auction-like setting.
Live crowdfunding events are hosted by those raising funds. A non profit can also use third-party organizations that specialize in creating crowdfunding events.
As a non profit, you can take advantage of either live or online crowdfunding to attract and inspire new donors who probably might not have become aware of your cause otherwise.
World Vision has collected over $40,000 since 2013 using one of the popular crowdfunding platforms.
Crowdfunding websites have different fees. Some websites will charge more if a project doesn’t reach its goal, while others will not charge anything, but might bar you from collecting donations unless they reach the target amount. Which means no money is collected from the donors. However, all crowdfunding platforms charge a baseline processing fee that varies from one website to another.
Crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept, and many non profits are still learning the ropes. Here’s a look at some of the best practices when using crowdfunding for non profits.
Best Practices for Online Crowdfunding for Non Profits
1. Develop SMART campaign goals
To succeed in crowdfunding, you have to create a campaign that has a SMART goal. This means that your fundraising goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound.
A good example of a SMART goal is an objective to raise say $3,000 in one month which will be used for a particular cause or initiative. Such a goal is easy to measure throughout the crowdfunding campaign.
When your goal is SMART you will be able to define what success is and therefore easily determine what time and resources you’ll need to achieve that success.
2. Define your story
If you want to convince people to give you their donations, tell a story. Stories about a charity’s impact are far more powerful than statistics about a problem.
When telling your story consider the problem your project is trying to solve and the effects of that problem on someone’s life. Then let your audience know what’s your unique perspective on how to solve the problem and the motivation driving you to fundraise for this cause.
Tusk has a compelling story on protecting endangered wildlife in Africa on one of their crowdfunding pages:
3. Build a Network
Your network is a very important part of the success of your crowdfunding campaign. In order to reach your goal, the majority of your funding will come from solid connections so start your campaign by identifying your network.
Start out by listing your networks in categories such as:
- Promoters: These are people who will share your campaign either on social media or via email to amplify your reach. Consider them your source of publicity.
- Fundraisers: This category will help raise funds through peer-to-peer fundraising by encouraging their friends and families to donate.
- Donors: This is probably the category most non profits are interested in. Donors are the individuals or corporates that will contribute to your campaign.
Each category is important because it raises the chances of reaching your goal so use them wisely.
4. Create Shareable Social Media Content
It goes without saying that online crowdfunding for non profits will rely heavily on the power of social media. Just like with any other online charity campaign, your success will depend on how good your content is. Does it invite social sharing?
To create shareable content, first understand your audience and the kind of content they share most on their social media platforms. For instance are they sharing news stories? Personal photos? Their opinions or simply sharing other people’s content?
This will help you create content that your audience will want to engage with and share. People will share a crowdfunding campaign if it inspires, informs, or makes them feel good.
Provide potential supporters on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc. with relevant and interesting information that will help them become experts about your cause.
Also, think about using compelling images and videos too in your campaign for greater impact.
Check out the graphics on this crowdfunding page by UNICEF. They tell you about the cause even without having to read more about it.
5. Remember to Say Thank You
It’s important to recognize and appreciate donors who raised funds for your campaign. Most people have said that a ‘thank you’ note has inspired them to give again, with some even making larger donations in future.
So remember to thank everyone who contributed towards your campaign regardless of amount of money they gave. This gesture will reinforce your connection with donors, making them feel special and encourage them to promote your campaign to their audiences.
6. Analyze your crowdfunding Campaign
Whether you reach your campaign goal or not, you’ll certainly learn a thing or two from your crowdfunding campaign.
Once you complete your campaign, let your supporters know how much was raised. Use this opportunity to also ask for feedback in order to know what should be done differently in future campaigns.
Analyze your campaign performance by looking at the amount raised, demographics of donors and any comments made during your campaign period and brainstorm ways to improve and grow for your next campaign.
Online crowdfunding for non profits is a great way of raising thousands of dollars for your cause. Understanding how crowdfunding works and what needs to be done is the first step in making it work for you.
In my next article I will provide a whole list of crowd funding platforms to give you full understanding of how to get your crowdfunding campaign going.
Do you use crowdfunding for non profits? What is your secret?