This blog post was originally published on npENGAGE.
As more and more donors familiarize themselves with crowdfunding, they’re finding it’s a convenient way to donate to their favorite organizations. And if you’re a nonprofit, there’s a lot to think about when you’re about to launch a crowdfunding campaign.
Make the most out of your crowdfunding by using available resources and advice. Your campaign’s approach should be two-pronged.
Both on the acquisition and retention fronts, you’re going to have a ton to account for and worry about.
Luckily, we have a few strategies to help you out with your nonprofit’s crowdfunding:
- Prepare and set goals
- Involve your supporters
- Be transparent
- Try incentives
- Focus on your crowdfunding page
Of course, you may need to adjust these tips to better suit your specific crowdfunding campaign, but this will be a solid basis to form your campaign.
1. Prepare and set goals
Taking the time to prepare depends on your type of campaign. If you have a close deadline and you’re rushed, you should still set out a tentative timeline because it will help guide your efforts and make your fundraising more efficient.
However, if you have the time, use this to your advantage. It takes most nonprofits about two weeks to research and prepare for their campaigns. But your nonprofit may take a little longer or shorter than expected.
Nonetheless, you’ll want to:
- Research all available resources. Crowdfunding is a popular method because if it’s done right, your campaign will go viral and people will hear about it. But there’s a graveyard of failed campaigns. Employ what you already know about fundraising and then match it to the crowdfunding model. Crowdfunding is only successful at the right time with the right approach so do your online research to determine what the right time and right approach for your nonprofit look like. Talk to respected peers to gain all the knowledge you can before you dive in. Chances are, you’ll know a multitude of people who have some kind of experience with crowdfunding campaigns. You can learn from what others did right and wrong to do your best.
- Pick a crowdfunding website. There’s a sea of crowdfunding platforms. Identify a company that has a history of working well for nonprofits. After narrowing down your list of companies, make sure your platform has the following features: an easy user interface, customizable pages, an email system, social media trackers, etc. Check out @Pay’s GoFundMe Alternatives for a list of great sites to use!
- Understand how to ask for donations. As a seasoned fundraising organization, you’re bringing your techniques and skills to a new platform. Put in the legwork on how to best strategize and market your campaign in order to appropriately ask for donations.
Part of your preparation will be setting your goals. You can use the SMART method to do so:
- Specific: When there’s a lot you want to accomplish, you need to start with a specific goal for your crowdfunding campaign, like how much you’re expecting to raise through your online donation form, how much you’ve currently raised, and your deadline. Keep your team on track and set clear goals to keep everyone on the same page.
- Measurable: Whether you’re measuring a crowdfunding campaign in monetary value or perhaps number of new donors retained, any campaign needs to be measurable so you can gauge your nonprofit’s successes and failures. You want to be tracking when you’re raising the money you are so that you can identify what is and isn’t working for your campaign.
- Attainable: Don’t set the stakes too high or push yourself too much. If you’ve done this before, refer to your old crowdfunding strategies. If you’re new to crowdfunding, look at the reality of results from similar organizations. Look at their operating budgets and scopes of their campaigns. Compare their tactics with what you know about your historical online giving. Challenging yourself is a good idea, but make sure your goal manageable.
- Relevant: Your goal should make sense to both your nonprofit’s cause and your donors to optimize donation potential. If your nonprofit’s focus is animal rescue, a goal to raise money to remodel your kennels would be relevant and draw in donors.
- Timely: A timeframe will be the easiest way to structure your crowdfunding campaign and keep it on track. Whether it be a one day giving day or a month long campaign, always keep a final deadline and checkpoint goals in mind so you have the deadline pressure to encourage donors.
Setting your goals will give both your nonprofit and your donors a clear idea of what your crowdfunding campaign is, why you’re doing it, and how it will work. Preparing is essential for your campaign’s success.
2. Involve your supporters
Don’t assume people will find your campaign on their own. With almost 200 different crowdfunding platforms, you’ll need to properly promote yours in order to see your campaign through to its potential.
Most campaigns see the most donations within the first and last few days of the campaign, so you’ll need to hit the ground running and promote your campaign as soon as you set it up by spreading the word to your family, friends, and community.
You can ask your supporters for help marketing your campaign, but you’ll need to provide them with some resources, if not all of the following:
- Content. You’ll have to give them articles, blog posts, videos, and photographs to share. The more information about your campaign that circulates, the more people will know about it and the more opportunities there are to accept donations.
- Updates. You can’t expect your supporters to promote your campaign if they’re not knowledgeable about what you’re doing. You can solve this by providing updates to your supporters.
- Encouragement. Your supporters have busy schedules and might forget to spread information regarding your campaign, so you’ll need to remind them to share, post, and tweet.
Spread the word on social media. Make sure your crowdfunding platform has built-in sharing widgets that will let you and your donors share information and reach out to peers via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.
3. Be transparent
You want to receive the most donations possible, but supporters aren’t likely to give to a vague campaign. Being transparent about where their money will go will reassure them their money is being put to good use.
You can look into accepting different donations so supporters can see exactly where their money is going. For example, if you’re a nonprofit that focuses on animal rights and proper care, you might be accepting up to $1,500 for kennel supplies and $2,500 for new veterinary materials.
You can also list how much has been donated in each category to encourage donors to give enough for you to reach a goal and close a category, which, if you’re a tutoring nonprofit, might look like this:
- A $10 donation gives school supplies to one student
- A $30 donation gives one student a backpack
- A $65 donation gives one student tutoring sessions for a month
Be sure to include a statement that looks similar to this: We’re trying to raise $10,000 to help the students in our area because we’re noticed a drop in test scores due to a lack of proper resources and supplies.
4. Try Incentives
If you can offer them, incentives are awesome perks for donors and help encourage involvement.
Of course, offering incentives doesn’t always fit with your campaign, but if you’re doing anything in the realm of art shows, talent shows, or walkathons, this strategy is your perfect opportunity to engage your donors.
Naturally, incentives will vary with each campaign. Just to name a few, incentives can be:
- Social media shout-outs
- Baked goods
- Custom merchandise
- Tickets to an event
These gifts will give your donors something concrete to remember your campaign by and may even encourage them to make larger or more donations.
You can place different incentives as boosts to different giving levels. Like @Pay’s Church Online Giving article says, organizations that “suggested specific offering amounts on their websites rather than fill-in-the-blank amounts saw an astonishing increase in their gifts when they switched over,” and if someone is in between giving $50 and $100, the t-shirt listed in the $100 bundle might convince them to donate the extra $50.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to pick incentives that are of interest to your donors. For example, if you’re holding a walkathon, offering custom t-shirts and water bottles is the perfect addition to your event.
5. Focus on your crowdfunding page
After you’ve decided on which crowdfunding site to use (Double the Donation has a good list to get you started), you’ll want to tell a compelling story through personalizing your crowdfunding page so it doesn’t get lost in the sea of other pages.
Most crowdfunding pages generate a summarizing sentence that appears when you share the page’s link on social media. Modify this text to stand out. It should accurately portray your campaign to make sure potential supporters understand your campaign, cause, and nonprofit right away.
When it comes to reworking this copy, remember to:
- Briefly tell your story
- Tell donors where their donations will go
- Provide past accomplishments for your authority and credibility
- Compare how much you’ve raised to your monetary goal
And as your campaign moves along so should your campaign page. Often weeks or months long, campaigns progress and mature significantly from their starting points so there’s plenty of information to update your supporters with.
Include where donations are helping and what they’re being used toward.
Maintaining your page will satisfy your current supporters and draw in new ones. New photos and written updates will show your involvement and dedication to your own campaign, which will encourage involvement and dedication from potential supporters. If you’re invested in supporting your cause, potential supporters will be more open to helping.
There you go! Those are our 5 pro-tips when it comes to crowdfunding campaigns. Now that you’re ready to kick off your own campaign, keep these tips in mind.