Should You Crowdfund for Your Nonprofit or Cause?
An Infographic to Get You Started and Put You on the Right Path
Crowdfunding has changed the way that many people think about giving, and every nonprofit should at least consider running a campaign. Before you do, there a few questions you should ask yourself, to make sure this is the right tool for the job.
We’ve worked with dozens of do-gooders, from individuals with a great new idea to large established nonprofits, to help them raise money through crowdfunding. While each crowdfunding campaign is different, there are some indicators of success that are important to consider. It just might make the difference between a successful campaign…and feelings of exhaustion and failure.
Campaigns for new initiatives get people more excited than ones that just keep something going. There are exceptions, of course, including when it’s an emergency appeal and/or response to a news event.
A specific page for a specific project will work better than a general page for a general fund.
If you are fiscally sponsored, check with your sponsor if there are crowdfunding platforms you can use so that the money goes into your account and generates tax deduction receipts.
Crowdfunding is rarely about tax deductions for donors. Many campaigns for good have succeeded without 501(c)3 status or even fiscal sponsorship. But that may affect some of the choices of bigger donors.
Crowdfunding is not about just putting up a page and waiting for the money to come in. It requires a concerted and sustained effort to get the word out to established and potential supporters. And the more people you have working on it, using their resources and contacts, the more likely you will succeed.
People like to support a campaign that looks like it will succeed and that others have already gotten behind. Can you get 20%–30% of the funds committed in advance, ready to donate when you launch the campaign?
Just because it’s important, doesn’t mean that media will choose to cover it. Try to figure out a “newsworthy” angle, and pitch it to journalists ahead of time to see if they’re interested.
If you didn’t think your project was worthwhile, you wouldn’t be doing it. But can you convince people that have never heard of you to donate money to you rather than their favorite established causes? It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Who would share this cause with their friends? What would their motivation be to do so? Do they have a personal interest in what you’re doing? Will sharing it make them look good to their peers?
It looks like your website is the best place for you to focus on for now. But that doesn’t mean you should never crowdfund. Follow the dotted line to the next red marker for suggestions.
Take some time to formulate your idea into something that people will quickly rally behind. What’s the “elevator pitch” that gets friends and strangers alike excited to support you? Get some to join your team, get others to commit to supporting you when you launch your campaign.
So…Should You Run a Crowdfunding Campaign?
Crowdfunding campaigns can bring in donations, raise awareness and help new supporters discover your cause. They also take a lot of work. Sure there are the rare ones that go viral and everyone talks about, but more often than not, people overestimate the viral lift their campaign will get.
As you can see from the graphic above, the answer is complicated and depends on the circumstances. Ask yourself and your team the questions above before committing to a campaign. Your project’s success may depend on your answers.