nonprofit crowdfunding

Nonprofit Crowdfunding: All-in-One Guru Guide

Crowdfunding Advisors General

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Nonprofit Crowdfunding: All-in-One Guru Guide

Crowdfunding Advisors, FundRazr Team

Helping our community get to the next level of crowdfunding success

What is Crowdfunding for Nonprofits? 

Crowdfunding for nonprofits is an online, socially-driven fundraising technique that collects donations from a large number of supporters. The reason crowdfunding is so well-suited to charities and nonprofits is that it allows them to grow a community. Crowdfunding connects fundraisers with people that care about their mission, and easily keeps them in touch using the internet and social media. 

If you’ve been on the Internet, you’ve heard of crowdfunding. In this digital age, it’s everywhere – but to lots of us, it looks like a friend and family members’ Facebook post asking for help with surgery. But crowdfunding is bigger than that – it’s now regularly used by charities, nonprofit organizations and other funding-driven bodies. At this level, crowdfunding is very different – it’s sophisticated, yet affordable, accessible, and incredibly effective. 

Crowdfunding for nonprofits not only incentivizes people to give, but to spread the word on our behalf and drum up greater support and awareness. Driven by social media, crowdfunding for nonprofits encourages smaller, repeated donations that supporters can share to their own accounts – thereby combining fundraising and awareness efforts into one. Furthermore, crowdfunding has risen in prominence as it becomes increasingly apparent that the future of philanthropy is online, where the next generation of donors are spending more and more of their time. 

For nonprofits, crowdfunding is one of the most effective fundraising strategies available, especially as more and more donor communication takes place in the digital sphere. Crowdfunding for nonprofits offers lower overhead costs, a high level of control, and a quick and easy setup process.

Why Try Crowdfunding for Nonprofit Organizations?

There are so many reasons for nonprofits and charities to try out crowdfunding, but here are a few of the most compelling:

  • Crowdfunding is the best way for nonprofits to engage with Millennials and Generation Z
    • Millennials and Gen Z aren’t just kids anymore – soon, they will make up the majority of Earth’s population. As the Baby Boomers age and retire, so too will old fashioned methods of fundraising like mailouts and phone campaigns die out. The next generations are living online, and that’s where their charitable activities will happen. What’s more, online fundraising is more environmentally friendly, something that’s more important than ever to the younger generation, and the smaller donations that it encourages are more accessible to those who may just be starting out with charitable giving. Crowdfunding is a win-win: you’re meeting donors where they’re at, while also showing them you share their values. 
  • Nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns are easy to set up and manage using free platforms like FundRazr
    • Platforms like FundRazr make crowdfunding easy and accessible, even for large or complex projects. Depending on your nonprofit’s needs, you can make one large, ongoing campaign that is updated frequently (think “Help Our Animal Shelter Stay Open”), or smaller, targeted campaigns that support projects within your mission (like “Save Daisy the Bulldog”). You can even open one umbrella campaign under which several volunteers can start their own crowdfunding projects to support your cause.  
  • Low overhead costs and no expenses – with a 0% platform fee on FundRazr, you can likely keep 100% of your donations 
    • FundRazr and some of its competing platforms are funded by a new revenue model: rather than taking a percentage of the money you raise, donors have the option to add an additional tip onto their donation that goes towards sustaining the crowdfunding platform. In the competitive online philanthropy sector, this model has emerged as the new standard to help platforms attract and retain fundraisers by providing maximum value and return on their efforts. 
  • Constantly evolving campaign models and features keep you on top of digital fundraising trends
    • Change is constant in the digital fundraising landscape. To make sure your campaigns are producing the best possible results, you need fundraising technology that not only keeps up with, but drives development in the online fundraising space. Innovation is at the core of FundRazr’s business model – you can count on us to distill the latest trends into accessible, easy-to-use new campaign types, options and features. 

How to Make the Most of Nonprofit Crowdfunding

It doesn’t matter how active your nonprofit is online or what your funding strategy looked like before – dipping your toes into nonprofit crowdfunding is realistic, achievable, and fast. Here’s a few clear, actionable steps to getting started: 

  • Step 1: define your campaign’s project, timeframe, and financial goal.
    • Get down to basics: what are you trying to achieve, how much time do you have to do it, and how much money will it take? These three questions will guide your campaign’s story, marketing strategy, and execution.
  • Step 2: brainstorm your campaign story. 
    • A compelling, authentic story is what will drive your campaign’s performance and make sure people connect to your mission. Focus on the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. 
    • Who are you trying to help, or what problem are you trying to solve? Where is this all happening? When do you need to reach your goal? And most importantly, Why does it matter – what’s at stake?
    • Make sure donation is an integral part of your campaign story. How are donors helping you solve a problem by donating? Exactly how and where will their donations be used? Clarity here will build trust and help your audience feel like they’re part of something important.
    • In addition to telling your campaign story through words, use visuals like pictures, video and infographics to help your audience visualize and connect to what’s happening.
  • Step 4: launch your campaign and start encouraging people to donate or share.
    • The beauty of crowdfunding is that even if someone can’t donate, they can still support your cause by sharing the campaign with their friends and family. Easy social sharing buttons are built into every FundRazr campaign, so supporters can share instantly – whether they donated or not. 
  • Step 5: as the campaign progresses, keep your donors and followers engaged. 
    • Crowdfunding is a great way to build your community, so don’t forget about your crowd after they’ve donated. Keep them informed about your mission, sharing updates and milestones along the way. By making your supporters feel like they’re part of the team, you’ll achieve the best possible outcomes and hit your goals. 

Does Crowdfunding for Nonprofits Really Work? 

Yes. Simply put, crowdfunding is an effective and proven fundraising technique for thousands of nonprofits all over the world. In fact, it’s likely to become a core pillar of your funding strategy, especially post COVID-19 as in-person events and galas are on hold for the foreseeable future. 

Crowdfunding can help you deepen connections with your supporters, increase awareness, and build a sustainable, year-over-year funding strategy – all while saving you time and money and helping you reach the next generation of donors more effectively. Check out just a few of the many great reasons to try out crowdfunding for nonprofits in this recent article. 

The Best Nonprofits Crowdfunding Platforms

Online crowdfunding is a competitive sector, and there are many different platforms that nonprofits can take advantage of. This can feel like an overwhelming choice, so we’ve outlined the most important factors for you to take into consideration.

  • Your own priorities
    • Every organization’s needs will be slightly different, so going into your search with a clear idea of what matters to you will guide your search and keep things simple. Here’s some examples of common features fundraisers look for:
      • Great campaign page appearance
      • Easy setup your team can handle, no coding or developer required
      • Mobile and SEO optimization
      • Engaging features like wish-lists or perks
  • Platform cost
    • You don’t have to pay hefty fees or give up a portion of what you raise to try out nonprofit crowdfunding. There are free, powerful crowdfunding solutions out there – like FundRazr – that offer enterprise-level crowdfunding technology for a 0% fee.
  • Versatility and adaptability 
    • If you’re looking at the best option for your very first crowdfunding campaign, don’t forget to consider how else you could use the platform in the future. Even if you don’t need extended features and capability yet, choosing a platform with room to grow will give you the option to make crowdfunding a greater part of your funding strategy in the future. You’ll want to be able to try out different types of campaigns in the future to keep your donors engaged and interested in your projects. 

Of course, FundRazr is a great crowdfunding solution that ticks all these boxes – and we’re not just saying that because we work here! We are constantly developing innovative new features that keep up with trends and set your campaigns up for success. It’s our goal to make crowdfunding effortless, so you can focus on telling your story, not figuring out a new platform.

Nonprofit Crowdfunding post COVID-19

The world has changed in quick and dramatic ways for nonprofits during this ongoing pandemic. Change isn’t easy, but an upside is that when it comes to fundraising, crowdfunding is a natural fit for what’s emerging now as the new normal. 

Of course, it’s not all roses – COVID threw a wrench into everyone’s fundraising plans, and with many people losing their jobs or seeing a reduction in income, many people don’t have as much to give, financially speaking. But these challenging times have also seen people come together, and this shared experience means that when possible, people want to help each other make it through. 

The most significant way that crowdfunding fits into a post-COVID landscape is its online nature. Charitable giving was already trending towards an online activity, but COVID-19 has hastened that change, as in-person events like galas suddenly become an irresponsible choice. 

Your campaign can also take the place of cancelled fundraising activities, especially those like walkathons that have volunteers collect pledges. You can adapt the original event’s branding and easily pivot it to a virtual model, especially if there’s a way to approximate the experience while complying with COVID-19 safety measures – for example, by having volunteers run or walk individually while posting updates to their sub-campaign. 

Perhaps most importantly, crowdfunding can be an extremely effective tool to respond quickly to the funding crises created by COVID-19. Because of the low monetary and time investment into launching your crowdfunding campaign, it can be used to launch emergency campaigns to carry your nonprofit through the funding void left by the cancellation of other fundraising plans. The timely, urgent nature of these emergency campaigns mean your supporters are likely to share them widely, as they want to do their part in ensuring the causes they care about aren’t abandoned in the wake of the pandemic. 

How to Launch Your Nonprofit Crowdfunding Project in Less Than a Day

That brings us to another major advantage of crowdfunding: the speed and ease with which you use it to meet your goals. Contrast this with traditional methods like galas or volunteer-led events; the leadup and planning time for these activities would instead be measured in weeks, if not months. What drives your campaign is a really good, compelling story, told through both writing and visuals like photos, videos, and infographics. Once you’ve collected those, the campaign itself comes together effortlessly.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to launching a crowdfunding campaign for your nonprofit in less than 24 hours:

  1. Create a crowdfunding campaign: 
  2. Add your story, images and video. 
  3. Define your fundraising goal and timeline 
  4. Add your logo and customize the colour palette to make it consistent with your organization’s branding 
  5. Add a payment processor like PayPal or Stripe. If possible, enable both to give your donors options 
  6. Add wish-list items, perks or incentives as you like – for ideas, check out this article

There you go – you’re all set and ready to launch! Now, make sure to share your campaign with your team, your existing donors, all your social media followers and any sponsors or partners! 

Types of Nonprofit Crowdfunding Projects

The beauty of crowdfunding is how adaptable and versatile it is. Whatever the needs of your organization, you can easily design a campaign that matches up to them. Here’s a rundown on the major types of crowdfunding campaigns for nonprofits: 

Regular campaign 

The most basic campaign model and a great place to start, the regular campaign is a place to tell your story and invite donors to support your cause, or share it and spread the word.

Peer-to-peer campaign 

Peer-to-Peer fundraising allows your community and volunteers to raise money on behalf of your nonprofit organization, by allowing them to set up their own sub-campaigns linked back to your organization’s main FundRazr account. Peer-to-peer campaign is a great tool to engage your supporters, involve a wider network, acquire new donors and raise more money for your cause. It works especially well in combination with a special event – even one that takes place virtually for COVID-19 safety.

DIY campaign 

DIY crowdfunding takes peer-to-peer to the next level. To help support your cause, your advocates can independently create and run their own campaigns. You’ll make a template campaign customized with your story and branding, that advocates can personalize, submit for your approval and then share with their networks. 

Perks and Wishlists

Perks and Wishlists are unique, high-impact ways to help donors visualize the impact of their gift. With Perks, your supporters get a fun thank-you gift in exchange for their donation, while Wishlists frame their donations as providing a certain gift to your campaign (for example, ‘Donate $300 to provide school lunch for two weeks’).

Microprojects fundraising

Microprojects are smaller, recurring campaigns that encourage repeat giving and help donors feel connected to your nonprofit’s mission. Rather than supporting your organization as a whole, these campaigns focus on those you help, and are designed to be launched easily over and over again. For example, under this model you’d launch ten campaigns to save ten animals from a kill shelter, or 15 campaigns to purchase school supplies for as many young girls in need. Microprojects help you build a dedicated donor base over time – supporters are encouraged to give over and over, while the campaigns’ smaller goals mean they can clearly see the impact of their donation.

Social storefront 

Social storefront campaigns are similar to any other kind of online shopping experience, but for a good cause! Here, you can sell items with all proceeds benefiting your charity. This model works especially well if you can sell products directly related to your cause – think jewelry created by Indigenous artists with proceeds benefiting children in their community. 

Example of Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns

Los Anarchists Junior Derby Victory Fund

Los Anarchists Junior Derby provides opportunities for youth of all genders to feel confident, capable, get together, and have fun through roller derby. Based in Los Angeles, this program has made clever use of crowdfunding a core pillar of their fundraising strategy – on this one campaign alone, they brought in $19,020!

Here’s how Los Anarchists made the most of crowdfunding:

  • Perks – donors get fun merch like hoodies and tees as a thank-you for giving specific amounts
  • Storytelling – their audience learns about how roller derby helps youth through engaging writing
  • Microprojects – the team keeps multiple campaigns running on an as-needed basis

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

For over 30 years, MAPS Canada has been on a mission to change how we understand psychedelics through evidence-based research and public education about the risks – and benefits – of this unique class of drugs.

MAPS Canada has raised a staggering $261,106 on FundRazr! They are a true crowdfunding success story that shows the overwhelming public interest in a topic that’s often stigmatized.

Here’s how they achieved such amazing success:

  • Compelling statistics that communicate impact – for example, 50% of participants in a psilocybin mushroom experiment rated it the most important spiritual experience of their life
  • Perks – from $100 for a signed print to $30,000 for an exclusive weekend retreat
  • Detailed information on exactly how donations will be used
  • Interesting historical information about psychedelics, and a plan for the future of their research
  • Partnerships from sponsors who will match donations

Iskwew Air

Especially since COVID-19, the needs of remote Indigenous communities have gone far beyond what government relief plans offer. That’s why Teara Fraser, pilot and CEO of Iskwew Air, has brought together a circle of Indigenous women to source supplies from local vendors and airlift them to remote Indigenous communities that are not getting the bare essentials that they need.

The project has raised an incredible $25,963 and accomplished some amazing things – even bringing a little boy and his father back to their family in Northern BC!

Here’s how they did it:

  • Leveraged their existing skills and resources for a cause
  • Acted on an urgent situation to serve a population in need
  • Community outreach resulting in donations and media coverage

Nonprofit Crowdfunding – How to Succeed

Success with crowdfunding is all about knowing your story and telling it well. The power of storytelling is built into our brains as humans – this is how we process and form an emotional attachment to complex information. By honing in on the real, human story behind your campaign, you’re giving it the best chance of connecting with an audience who will share – and support – it widely. 

That’s why step one is the story itself. Make sure the text for your campaign is well-written and engaging, taking the form of a narrative with high stakes, sympathetic characters, and real, concrete details. Stay away from dry, formal explanations of your mission or organization. Usually, the best route to a good story is to focus on the beneficiaries of your mission and let them take center stage. For example, ‘Kids at this elementary school are going hungry – help us provide them with lunch everyday’ is a lot more compelling than ‘It is our goal to alleviate child hunger in our city’. Help donors visualise your story by supporting it with pictures and videos of the real people and situations involved in your cause, and build credibility with facts and statistics wherever possible. 

An important element of storytelling is communicating impact. This means emphasizing the positive role that your campaign plays in the story you’re telling. To follow on from our example above, it’s not just a story about hungry kids in school – it’s a story about how your audience can help feed those kids by donating to your campaign. Some impact communication strategies include emphasizing the positive outcome of you reaching your goal (“We’re only $1500 away from providing lunch to every kid at X school this winter!”) or framing donations as tangible Wish List items (“Donate $500 to feed 50 kids for two weeks!”).  Sending thank-you notes to donors that reinforce the impact of their gift, and posting photo or video updates after you reach your goal are two more ways to communicate impact.

Next, it’s all about sharing your story so people actually hear it! Your strategies here are twofold – line up a solid first-level crowd, before your campaign launch, who will pledge to donate and support. Usually, this looks like staff, sponsors, friends and family, and existing supporters of your organization. Ensuring you can expect this initial wave of support builds social proof and makes others want to get involved. After that, it’s all about great communications and marketing. Use the writing, images, and video from your campaign story as a blueprint to build great social, email, and media outreach content. It doesn’t stop once you launch – keep promoting as the campaign runs, offering plenty of updates to keep donors – and potential donors – engaged. 

In addition to these more general strategies, plenty of features are built right into the FundRazr platform to help ensure your success. Be sure to take advantage of our in-house strategists – these on-call experts will help you strategize, develop an action plan, and offer guidance throughout the whole process.We also offer easy sharing to private social channels like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, and Slack in addition to standard social sharing capabilities. Since the trend with social media communication is towards private or closed networks, you need to be able to keep up. FundRazr also offers the advantage of mobile-optimized campaign pages and high search-engine ranking, as well as a campaign analytics dashboard that monitors traffic, contributions, payments and more so you can measure your progress and adjust your approach. 

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