Crowdfunding and nonprofits: Can they work together?

Can nonprofits learn from crowdfunding platforms? Instead of formulating a large giving campaign that takes a lot of time and manpower to plan and execute, nonprofits can use online fundraising tools to accept smaller donations?

Nonprofit leaders might be annoyed with some of the crowdfunding ideas they see on Kickstarter or Indiegogo​, like the much publicized plan to raise money for a man to make potato salad. Zack Brown, who only needed to raise $10 in 30 days to make the salad, received a total of $55,492 at month's end, according to Entrepreneur. Brown later put the proceeds to use by throwing a benefit party for a charity in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, according to CNN. 

Let's see what nonprofits can learn from his success.

Why Was This Campaign Successful?

Brown's initial idea was a joke, and he used his sense of humor throughout the 30 days of the fundraiser. He pledged to read out all donor names in a video and added hats, T-shirts, and potato salad tastings as prizes if he reached his monetary goal.

What appeared to be a silly crowdfunding plan that warranted an eye-roll actually ended up netting many donations, which ended up going to further nonprofit causes. Entrepreneur attributes it to the humor, the sense of urgency behind the fundraiser, and the fact that Brown used the right crowdfunding platform for his audience.

What Can Nonprofits Learn from this Campaign?

This sense of urgency and the ability to add a personal touch to your campaign can also make crowdfunding an excellent strategy for nonprofits. Both the moving nature of emotionally-charged stories and the pressure to donate quickly can help your organization raise a significant amount of money in a short period of time.

Not to mention, the methodology of nonprofit and individual crowdfunding campaigns is similar. Your organization can take advantage of an established crowdfunding platform, like Fundly or Generosity, to help you create a customized donation page. Your campaign page should contain original stories and photos, and you can use the built-in social sharing tools to quickly spread word of your campaign.

Consequently, your organization can also opt to adapt your own online donation forms to the purposes of a crowdfunding campaign. Read more about crowdfunding platforms to decide which option might be right for you.

Why Run a Crowdfunding Campaign?

According to The Nonprofit Times, many not-for-profits have found success in raising funds using a crowdfunding approach. A crowdfunding campaign is a smaller-scale effort that can help nonprofits generate more revenue in between their major asks. Not to mention, they can do so without having to expend a lot of time and resources, considering that most of the promotion is done through virtual word of mouth marketing.

Combining a mini-campaign with announcements over social media and email blasts can give your donations a boost in just a few short weeks. The Nonprofit Times reported that organizations using crowdfunding campaigns received a range of donations from $17,000 to $176,000.

While a crowdfunding drive will see more donations on the first few days and in last few hours of the drive, the downside is that money can be slow to trickle in during the middle of the campaign. However, don't let that deter you; it doesn't matter when the funds come in, just that they do!

Using crowdfunding techniques can pique donors' interests while a nonprofit prepares for a much bigger, more traditional fundraising campaign. The earlier you can start building an engaged base, the more successful your larger fundraising efforts will be.

To learn more about crowdfunding, check out this guide.

The Best Crowdfunding Websites for Nonprofits 

Now that you've learned all about how nonprofits and crowdfunding go together, you're probably wondering what you should do next!

Luckily we've got the top 3 crowdfunding websites for nonprofits that are looking to raise more money

A. FundlyPro

FundlyPro is the nonprofit product of Fundly, the leader in individual crowdfunding.

FundlyPro has all of the great features of Fundly (plus a few extras!), including:

  • Image and video upload.
  • Customizable fundraising pages.
  • The option to add incentives, products, and perks.
  • Deep social integrations and email sharing options.
  • The option for donors to set up recurring donations.
  • Top-notch support.
  • And more!

If you're looking for an all-in-one crowdfunding platform for your nonprofit, Fundly is the best way to go. 

B. Booster

Booster is an awesome crowdfunding platform with a unique feature: they enable nonprofits to sell t-shirts to donors to raise money for a campaign, event, or project.

Nonprofits can design up to five different t-shirts (or other products!), and Booster will handle the rest.

Organizations only have to pay for the t-shirts that they sell, which means they:

1. Raise more money, and
2. Don't have a ton of leftover shirts!

If you want to offer your donors a unique and branded t-shirt (and raise some money at the same time!), Booster is a great option. 

C. SalsaLabs

SalsaLabs is known for their CRM, fundraising, and advocacy software, but did you know that they also enable nonprofits to raise money via crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising software?

Their crowdfunding/P2P platform enables nonprofits to "empower their supporters and channel their passion into raising money and spreading awareness."

SalsaLabs also offers nonprofits a free mobile fundraising app that allows them to track their fundraiser's progress on the go!


What Are Some Crowdfunding Best Practices for Nonprofits?

While creating a crowdfunding campaign is quick and easy, you should put some effort into your crowdfunding page to ensure that you reach your goals.

Use the following best practices to help you build an effective crowdfunding page:

  • Upload images and videos: Visuals help attract donors to your page and connect them to your cause. Make sure you include at least one high-quality image on your fundraising page. And, if you have the resources, add a video. Campaigns with videos can raise up to 4 times more than those without one.
  • Write a description: Your description will help donors understand why you're fundraising and how your money will be used. Make sure to keep your description around 300-700 words long. That way, you have enough space to describe your cause and keep your donors engaged. 
  • Post crowdfunding updates on a regular basis: Crowdfunding updates is often a rarely used feature, but it can improve your campaign's chances of success. Posting about your campaign's progress keeps your fundraiser relevant and can encourage more people to support your cause. 
  • Share your page on social media: If you don't share your campaign with your networks, no one is going to know your fundraiser exists. Ask for donations via Facebook and Twitter, use visuals and punchy messages to grab your readers' attention, and don't forget to post your campaign's URL. 
  • Thank your donors: Just like with any campaign, acknowledging your donors is crucial. With crowdfunding, you don't have to wait until the end of your fundraiser to say thank you. In addition to sending out personal thank-you letters, show your gratitude on social media or shout out supporters through your crowdfunding updates. 

By implementing those best practices, you'll be one step closer to reaching your goals!

If you want to check out even more crowdfunding platforms for nonprofits, check out this list from Double the Donation.

Additional Resources:

  • Credit Card Processing. One of the most popular ways to give online is via credit cards. Before you start a crowdfunding campaign, learn more about how payment processors handle credit card transactions. 
  • Fundly's Crowdfunding Tips. While crowdfunding is a simple and quick way to raise money online, your campaign page will require some preparation if you want to reach your goals. This guide with take you through 7 best practices that you can implement in your campaign. 
  • Credit Card Fraud. A common concern for nonprofits when they start accepting online donations is fraud. This article will take you through top strategies to avoid credit card fraud.
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