Crowdfunding: 7 Superior Strategies to Raise More Funds for Nonprofits
Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way for nonprofits to raise funds. More and more donors are getting familiar with the crowdfunding model and find it a convenient way to support their favorite causes.
If your nonprofit wants to create a crowdfunding campaign and is seeking out some best practices, keep reading. We’ll go over seven strategies:
- Be realistic and specific when setting goals.
- Get creative with crowdfunding rewards.
- Pick the platform that fits your nonprofit’s needs.
- Use visuals to help tell your story.
- Enlist the help of your supporters.
- Engage with supporters throughout the campaign.
- Practice good donor stewardship.
Let’s get started!
#1: Be realistic and specific when setting goals.
Setting a goal is the first step to creating any crowdfunding campaign. Ideally, you want a goal that is challenging but also achievable.
If your nonprofit wants to reach this medium between too difficult and too easy, use the SMART method.
What are SMART Goals? Smart goals help you establish more specific objectives and are broken down into five points:
- Specific: When your goals are ambiguous, they lack a clear direction, which can cause your staff and donors to come to different conclusions. Specific goals keep everyone on the same path. That way, you can focus on raising funds instead of clearing up any confusion.
- Measurable: How can you succeed if your goals can’t be measured? Goals need some unit of measurement—whether that be dollars or the number of new donors acquired—to help you track your progress.
- Attainable: While it’s nice to have a challenge, don’t set a goal that’s too hard to reach. Take everything into consideration and ask yourself if you believe this goal can be reached.
- Relevant: Make sure your goal makes sense. If your donors don’t see the relevance, then what reason do they have to give?
- Timely: A measurable goal has to have a time limit. Without a timeframe, it’s not clear how long you have to raise funds.
For your crowdfunding goals, SMART goals help you set expectations for your donors and give everyone a clear finish line.
For instance, let’s say an animal shelter wants to start a crowdfunding campaign, they set a goal to reach $15,000 in the next three months to improve their dog kennels. This goal is specific, measurable, and timely because there is a definite amount they want to reach and a timeframe. In addition, the goal is also relevant; they are creating the goal to help make improvements to the animal shelter.
The takeaway: Goals don’t just help you, they also help your donors understand your expectations. Establish goals so that everyone is on the right track throughout your campaign.
#2: Get creative with crowdfunding rewards.
Often, crowdfunding campaigns have rewards as an incentive for supporters to contribute. The level of reward will depend on the donor’s gift size. Usually, donors only receive their rewards if your goal is reached.
However, if not done correctly, rewards can greatly affect a supporter’s decision to give. In a recent study, Yale researchers found that rewarding donors can decrease donations. It was discovered that donors feel selfish if they’re given a gift in return for their contribution, which discourages them from giving.
Luckily, there is a solution: impact-driven rewards. Impact rewards have a strong connection to your cause and help donors see the outcome of their contributions.
If you’re looking for item ideas that impact your donors, we’ve got a few examples for you:
- T-shirts, hats, or other wearable merchandise. Donors can publicly share their support for your organization. Plus, it will help spread awareness about your cause.
- Free tickets to an event. This reward can work well for the higher donation tiers. Reward your donors with a celebration where they can see the positive outcomes of their support.
- Items created by the communities or people you serve. This reward may not work for every nonprofit, but it can help develop a strong bond between donors and your cause.
The takeaway: Giving your supporters rewards can work to your advantage if you’re strategic about what you give. Reward donors with things that show them the results of their contribution.
#3: Pick the platform that fits your nonprofit’s needs.
The platform you decide to use will play a big role in the success of your crowdfunding campaign. You want to look for a platform that offers different features that can help boost your campaign’s awareness and make it easy for you to update your page.
If your nonprofit is searching for a platform, look for these features before you pick:
- Social sharing buttons. You want donors to share your page so that they can spread awareness. Look for a platform that offers supporters an easy way to share their gift and your fundraising page on their social media accounts.
- User-friendly. You don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out how to use a new platform. Pick one that is intuitive and lets you easily add your elements and start raising funds.
- Mobile-responsive. Giving all your supporters access to your fundraising page is important. Make sure that donors can view your page no matter what device they use.
Another important factor to consider is the cost. Some platforms will charge you a fee to host your campaign on their site as well a payment processing fee.
Research all your options so you pick a platform with the features and price that you want.
If you need some help looking for the perfect crowdfunding website, Double the Donation has created two lists of the best crowdfunding sites for individuals and nonprofits!
The takeaway: The right platform sets the groundwork for the rest of your campaign. Make sure to pick one that fits all of your needs.
#4: Use visuals to help tell your story.
A successful crowdfunding campaign is all about the story. A powerful story will encourage your donors to give and can evoke a sense of emotion.
You have a short time to impact the reader. We all know the saying, “Images speak a thousand words.” And it’s true! Images and video can help you get your message across fast. Plus, they engage a donor’s five senses in a way that most text can’t.
If your nonprofit wants to tell you story through video or photos, there are a few things you should consider:
- Show your nonprofit in action. Let your supporters see some of your previous projects. That way, they can understand your cause better.
- Make sure your visuals can be viewed on any device. The last thing you want is to spend a lot of time create a visual story and only some of your viewers can see it.
- Don’t eliminate text completely. Text can be good to get your message across or point out important information. Don’t fear text: include it when you have a good reason.
Telling your story with the help of visuals gets your message across and helps donors see why supporting your nonprofit is so important.
The takeaway: Your story is what inspires donors to give. Convey your message in a way that will grab your supporters’ attention and show them why your cause is so important.
#5: Enlist the help of your supporters.
Instead of handling all the marketing yourself, ask your supporters to help. Crowdfunding is very similar to peer-to-peer fundraising, where your supporters raise funds for your nonprofit. The same approach can be used in crowdfunding.
Since there is such a social aspect to this type of fundraising, encourage your donors to share the campaign on their social media to enlist the help of their friends and family.
Before you can ask your supporters for help, you should equip them with the resources they need to spread the word. To get started, you’ll need to provide supporters with the following:
- Shareable content. Share videos, images, articles, and so much more. The more content you have related to your campaign, the more opportunities donors have to share and start talking about your project.
- Updates on your campaign’s progress. Your supporters will have trouble trying to convince their peers to give if they aren’t knowledgeable about the campaign’s progress. Share how far you’ve come and don’t forget to make it visual so it grabs attention.
- Motivation to keep spreading the word. You can’t get your donors’ support if you don’t encourage them. Remind donors to share their contributions on social media and ask them to share your content.
The takeaway: When your nonprofit has a strong group of supporters, you can leverage their passion, which might motivate their loved ones to give. That way, you can reach even more people and have a higher chance of succeeding.
#6: Engage with supporters throughout the campaign.
Interacting with donors is critical to any fundraising campaign but especially for crowdfunding. Without that regular conversation, your donors’ interest in your campaign can fade. This isn’t good for your chances of meeting your goals because it means they’ll have less interested in sharing your cause with others.
Why? The less interested your donors are, the less likely they are to share the campaign with friends and family and grow the network.
Thankfully, that fate can easily be avoided with consistent engagement. In addition to regular interaction, you want to vary the channels you use to engage with your supporters. We’ll take a look at three different communication channels you can use to communicate with your donors:
- Email – With email, you can provide your donors with more in-depth updates on your campaign’s progress. Additionally, you can request donations via email because you have the space to give detailed instructions on the donation process.
- Social media – Facebook and Twitter are both great platforms to share updates and strike up conversations related to your campaign. You can get creative with video and images to encourage donors to give.
- Text messages – One of the more immediate communications methods, text messaging is great for important messages. Text messages have a high open rate, which means that most of your donors will get the message.
Crowdfunding updates are also effective ways to keep your donors engaged. Similar to social media posts, these updates appear on your fundraising page to help keep supporters posted on your campaign during your fundraiser and after your campaign has ended.
They help your campaign stay relevant and give you more opportunities to engage with your supporters without asking for donations.
You can use crowdfunding updates to notify people when you’ve reached significant milestones, highlight specific donors, and publicly thank your supporters. Truly, the possibilities are endless!
Before you create your campaign, look for a platform that has crowdfunding updates. Some crowdfunding websites make it even easier to share your campaign’s progress, by automatically posting your updates to social media (if your accounts are connected to your fundraising page).
The takeaway: The trick to keeping donors interested in your campaign is to interact with them regularly and on different channels.
#7: Practice good donor stewardship.
Following up with donors is often forgotten in all the commotion that comes with a crowdfunding campaign. We get it. With all the engagement and planning, following up with donors can take a backseat to the more immediate tasks.
However, acknowledging your donors is not a step that can be overlooked. Although your main goal may be to raise a certain amount a funds, you’re also gaining new supporters throughout your campaign.
Letting your donors know you appreciate them can help you start to develop those relationships that can get donors to support you in the future. Follow-up with your donors using these tips:
- If a donor shares their gift on social media, send them a comment to thank them.
- Provide first-time donors with a welcome packet so they can learn more about your nonprofit and cause.
- Soon after a donor gives, send them a thank-you letter to acknowledge their gift.
- Even after the thank-you, keep communicating with supporters. Give them progress updates on your project.
The takeaway: Following up with your donors is critical. It lets them know you care and starts cultivating those bonds that could cause donors to keep giving.
Now that you’ve read through seven of our top crowdfunding best practices, you’re ready to start building your crowdfunding campaign. Just remember to be creative and engage with donors in as many ways as possible.
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