For some people, launching a crowdfunding campaign is a lot like throwing a Hail Mary pass late in the game—it’s a “close your eyes and hope for a game-changer” move out of sheer desperation to raise money.
But crowdfunding isn’t a cure-all, and it’s rarely a successful shot in the dark. A successful crowdfunding campaign involves planning, strategy, some street smarts and a little know-how about fundraising.
If you’ve been wondering what all the hoopla is about and whether or not crowdfunding is a good fit for your organization, let’s talk about some crowdfunding basics and how to make it work successfully for you.
First, what it is: Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically online. The beauty of crowdfunding is that it has the potential to not only raise money for your nonprofit, but also to expand your reach and grow awareness thanks to the shareable nature of online content and social networks.
Both nonprofits and for-profits as well as individuals and startups have benefited from crowdfunding campaigns, and the same holds true for everyone across the board: Planning ahead is your BFF. It rarely works to just throw something online and hope it catches on. For the best crowdfunding results, a solid plan and smart strategy before anything goes live is crucial.
Here are five things you can do to set your next crowdfunding campaign up for success:
1. Create a page that pulls people in.
Before you can tug on heartstrings and move people to give, you have to grab their attention. Using best practices for design, create a page with engaging pictures, compelling text and a video that tells the story of your organization or mission. You might want to feature people you serve or volunteers you work with. Which ever direction you go, it’s important to explain exactly how much you need and what the money will be used for. What is the purpose of this campaign? Make that clear and keep your messaging straight and to the point—but be inspirational about it.
2. Deliver your pitch.
It should answer these questions:
- Who are you? Introduce your organization and give it a face (literally) with engaging pictures of people.
- What do you want to fund? Include your goal as well as where the money will go.
- When do you want people to give by? This gives people a sense of urgency.
- Who will benefit from your campaign? Show donors what impact they’ll have.
- How can people get involved? Once they’ve given, what else can your donors do? Are there next steps, like sharing your campaign on social media or signing up for your newsletter?
When it comes to text, think “short and sweet.” This isn’t the place to write a novel—you just need a great headline and maybe a few paragraphs with the details. If you write too much, you may overwhelm people and lose potential donors.
3. Start with your own people.
Enlist your core group of supporters and brand evangelists, or your “street team” as I like to call it. Call upon them to both give to your campaign and spread the word—this will give your campaign a running start. If you simply post a campaign without any initial support from your own community and network, you run the risk of never gaining any traction. This isn’t a “build it and they will come” type of venture. The fact is, you won’t get many donations on a crowdfunding site until you have a good amount of traction from your own network showing others that you have a worthy cause.
4. Promote, promote, promote.
Oh—and did I mention, promote? Seriously, your crowdfunding campaign will sit and be brilliant all by its lonesome if you don’t get the word out. Feature it on the homepage of your website. Post it on Facebook. Tweet about it. Blog about it. Send out an email blast. Take every opportunity you can to spread the word and get people talking—and tell your street team to do the same. Growing your reach is the name of the game here. Also, don’t forget to mention that giving to your campaign is a limited-time opportunity. You want people to understand that there is a deadline from the get-go.
5. Get some back-and-forth going.
It’s one thing to broadcast your message over the internet (which is important), but online conversations will really help foster people’s interest. Host a Twitter party or a Google Hangout to share details about your campaign and get more people engaged. Also, don’t forget to create a special hashtag and use it every time you share something. This allows you to organize your crowdfunding posts into one topic page where people can easily see all the conversations and get all the details.
Crowdfunding can become an integral part of your fundraising strategy if you know how to use it correctly and make it work effectively for your nonprofit. It may, in fact, become one of your favorite tools.
Do you use crowdfunding at your organization? Let us know in the comments below!
Firespring has added crowdfunding to an already robust suite of nonprofit tools, including donation processing, event management, email marketing and password-protected portals. Of course, Bloomerang and Firespring work closely together to ensure that Bloomerang’s donor database tool integrates seamlessly with Firespring’s platform, giving you a complete package for creating a dynamic online presence.
Learn more about how Firespring can help you raise money online improve donor relations and increase efficiency.