Three Tips for Launching Your Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign

By: Lomesh Shah, CEO, Fundly

If your organization is looking for a way to involve your supporters more closely in your next fundraising effort and strengthen your social media presence at the same time, consider launching a crowdfunding campaign. You’re likely familiar with this popular format, in which a nonprofit sets up a donation page on a social media platform and then encourages followers to contribute and share the page to reach an established fundraising goal.

In addition to helping you achieve fundraising success, crowdfunding can strengthen your relationships with donors. It is a way to engage with them on social media, where they’re almost certainly spending a lot of their time already. Social media platforms are accessible to most donors and promote individualized communication between nonprofits and supporters, encouraging giving.

As Principle 1 of The Eight Principles® states: Donors are the Drivers®.  Donors drive philanthropy through their values and vision and are motivated by the senses of urgency and progress toward defined goals that crowdfunding campaigns create.

By providing a fundraising goal for the campaign as well as progress updates connected to the work you do in your community, you will encourage many donors to contribute. Ready to get started? Let’s take a look at how your organization can:

  1. Choose a crowdfunding platform that meets your organization’s needs.
  2. Develop an effective social media strategy for promoting your crowdfunding campaign.
  3. Offer incentives to donors in the form of branded merchandise.

We’ll begin with the first step in any crowdfunding endeavor: choosing the perfect platform for your organization and campaign.

1. Choose a crowdfunding platform that meets your organization’s needs.

Before you launch your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need to select the right online location. Crowdfunding works best when you begin with your organization’s core of dedicated supporters, your donors and volunteers most likely to contribute to the campaign and then share it outward among their social media friends and followers.

It’s likely that your core supporters are all using the same social media sites. Different demographics tend to frequent different platforms, so use your supporters’ habits to identify where to focus your efforts first.

Once you identify which social media sites your most committed donors frequent, you’ll know where you should share your campaign. The next step in the process is selecting a crowdfunding platform. As you consider your options, keep the following attributes in mind:

  • Customization and visual appeal. Use your nonprofit’s color scheme, logo, and other familiar branding elements to ensure that your donors interpret your crowdfunding page as trustworthy. Images that illustrate the good work you do can also be effective. Want more guidance? Visit Fundly for crowdfunding best practices related to page design and setup.
  • Minimums, maximums, and other restrictions. Before you select a crowdfunding platform, make sure that you understand restrictions it may have. Some platforms require you to raise a minimum amount before you can collect any donations, and some platforms limit the total amount that a single campaign can raise. As you investigate potential options, read their guidelines carefully and read reviews from past users and evaluating sites.
  • Cost to your organization. After your campaign ends, how much of the amount you receive in donations will go to your cause, and how much will go to the crowdfunding platform? Your organization is looking for the most cost-effective crowdfunding option available to ensure that the majority of what you raise goes toward your organization’s work.

After you have selected the perfect crowdfunding platform for your campaign, you are ready to share it with your closest supporters and their networks of potential donors. To ensure that your campaign is successful, you will need a multifaceted and well-planned social media strategy to promote it.

2. Develop an effective social media strategy for promoting your crowdfunding campaign.

Since crowdfunding is a social media-based form of fundraising, your organization will need to engage your donors on their favorite platforms with posts and other content encouraging them to support your campaign.

An effective social media strategy is one that meets your donors where they are and takes advantages of the strengths of their preferred platforms.

To reach the widest audiences, use a crowdfunding website to create a campaign that you can share easily on Facebook. It’s likely that your organization already has a Facebook page and has encouraged your supporters to “like” that page in the past. Post a link to your crowdfunding page in a prominent and unmoving place on your page and don’t forget to post updates on the campaign’s progress and deadline.

Facebook may remain the most widely used social media site, but don’t forget about other popular platforms. Twitter allows you to share the link to your campaign with your followers alongside brief, pertinent updates stressing the urgency of donating. Emphasizing the time-sensitive nature of your crowdfunding campaign is often highly effective! You can also interact with and respond to your Twitter followers quickly and easily.

If many of your current donors are younger people, or if your organization’s work is well-suited to an appeal based on image sharing, consider branching out into Instagram. Post pictures illustrating your organization at work and link to the crowdfunding campaign on your organization’s Instagram profile.

While your crowdfunding campaign is likely to benefit from sharing across social media platforms, keep in mind that the most important sites to share it on are those that you know your donors use. If your fundraising team is small or their social media experience is limited, it is often a better choice to develop strong promotional strategies for a few key sites instead of several less effective attempts across many platforms.

Whatever social media sites you choose to promote your crowdfunding campaign on, you’ll want to keep the following in mind as you develop your strategy:

  • Make your donors feel good about giving. Donors support their favorite organizations because they want to involve themselves in contributing to causes and solving problems that they care about. When you post updates on your crowdfunding campaign’s progress, try to connect the amount you have raised to a concrete goal that your organization is now able to accomplish. Your donors will know that they made a difference!
  • Keep your followers updated on your progress. Take advantage of the excitement that time-sensitive crowdfunding campaigns create by reminding your followers of how many days remain to give or how much remains until you reach your fundraising goal. Your donors will be motivated to push your campaign to success
  • Thank your supporters by name when they give. The ability to interact with individual donors is an important benefit of a social media-centered fundraising strategy. Thanking your donors by name on your page indicates that your organization values their individual reasons for supporting your cause.

Your donors will feel rewarded by the good work your organization can accomplish due to their support. As an additional incentive or thanks, you can incorporate branded merchandise into your crowdfunding campaign for extra motivation that will help ensure you reach your fundraising goal.

3. Offer incentives to donors in the form of branded merchandise.

Crowdfunding campaigns are most effective when they build donors’ excitement, whether they are leading up to an event or funding your organization’s next large project.

To further develop this atmosphere of anticipation and urgency, your organization can reward contributors with branded merchandise that provides a few key benefits to your campaign at once.

Offering incentives to donors is a popular crowdfunding tip because it not only motivates donors to give but can also encourage them to increase their gifts. One frequently-used strategy is to offer different rewards at different levels of giving. Another variation of this is to offer donors at each giving level a unique reward for that gift amount in addition to the gifts available to donors at all lower levels of giving.

If your crowdfunding campaign is scheduled to conclude with an event, your incentives or rewards can relate to the event activity. For example, if you’re hosting an outdoor athletic event, a t-shirt or reusable water bottle branded to your organization would make a fitting reward.

For any crowdfunding campaign, though, merchandise branded to your organization is a great choice of reward. Why? Your donors will be proud to wear, carry, or use practical and fun items that show their support for your good cause, while your organization will benefit from the curiosity these items may inspire in individuals who are not yet familiar with your organization!

T-shirts are a perennially successful type of branded merchandise for crowdfunding campaigns. Supporters enjoy receiving them and are thus motivated to give, and they spread the word about your nonprofit each time they wear the shirts in public. As an added bonus, t-shirts are easy for your organization to customize. Check out Bonfire’s templates for examples of t-shirt style and design ideas that your crowdfunding campaign supporters are sure to love.

Both your donors and your fundraisers enjoy supporting they care about through their engagement with your nonprofit. Receiving branded merchandise makes people happy, not only because the products are fun or useful but also because they showcase connections to your organization and your cause.

Your donors also like the feeling of being rewarded, as this is an effective way for your organization to acknowledge that you value their contributions. Think of branded merchandise as a form of thanking your donors, which is essential to any type of fundraising effort.

When you keep your donors motivated throughout your crowdfunding campaign and encourage them to spread the word about it, your organization is sure to find fundraising success. A strong social media strategy and desirable incentives for participation will keep your supporters engaged from beginning to end!

Lomesh has over 25 years of experience in international corporate leadership with a strong emphasis on marketing technology and data management systems. Lomesh has worked with small to mid-size businesses, privately-held companies and Fortune 500 corporations in various capacities; from sales and marketing to overseeing automation and re-engineering of processes and operations.

As CEO of NonProfitEasy, Lomesh spends much of his time immersed in the nonprofit industry both as an industry leader, speaker, and in service to several organizations as a board member and volunteer. Outside of the industry, Lomesh is a technology junkie and will give anyone willing to listen an assessment of the latest trends in anything from espresso makers and mobile gadgets to electric cars and wind power.

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