15 Steps to Launching a Wildly Successful Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign

15 Steps to Launching a Wildly Successful Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign

Julia Claire Campbell Nonprofits, Online Fundraising 6 Comments

15 Steps to Launching a Wildly Successful Nonprofit Crowdfunding CampaignHas your nonprofit considered launching a crowdfunding campaign, but you don’t know if this type of fundraising is for you – or even where to begin?

I’ve got you covered!

Nonprofits small and large are using the power of “crowdfunding” (online fundraising campaigns that use the collective effort of individuals to raise money for specific projects) to generate millions of dollars and spread awareness of their cause.

According to Fundly, there are 191 U.S.-based crowdfunding platforms, for every type of cause, project, and individual situation. The average crowdfunding campaign raises $7,000.

Using crowdfunding effectively can be the key to getting sums of money fast and increasing your donor base along the way.

However, just as many crowdfunding campaigns fizzle out or go nowhere. Simply setting up an account on a crowdfunding site and then expecting the donations to pour in does not work.

The more planning and preparation you put in the beginning, the more likely you are to be successful.

Want a detailed, step-by-step guide to planning and launching a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign? Join me live!

Here are 15 steps to launching a wildly successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.

1. Understand the pros and cons of crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding, when done strategically and thoughtfully, has many potential benefits for nonprofits.

These include an increased donor base, raised awareness for the cause, and built up buzz and excitement for the programs and services.

However, there are several cons to crowdfunding that need to be considered. These include: A strain on already limited resources, a requirement of a certain level of staff tech-savvy, and a significant time commitment.

It is important to determine if crowdfunding is right for your nonprofit based on an analysis of the costs, in terms of time, resources, and the technology learning curve.

2. Set your goal and campaign deadline.

Crowdfunding campaigns are NOT your annual appeal and they are not to be used for “general operating” funds.

The goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achieveable, Relevant, and Time-based (SMART).

An example of a SMART goal: We aim to raise $5,000 in 10 days to renovate our food pantry with a new fridge and pantry shelves. We need to do this now to get it ready for the busy holiday season.

3. Create a Work Plan for each step of the campaign.

Like any successful event or online campaign, you need to invest time and resources into planning, research, messaging, creating assets, and more.

This often requires weeks or even months before the campaign launches to the public.  

The average length of a crowdfunding campaign is 9 weeks – but I think this is MUCH too long!

I recommend 60 days of planning and 10 days of launching and carrying out the campaign. Create a work plan for each week leading up to the campaign, a plan for launch day, and a plan for each day of the campaign.

Want a detailed, step-by-step guide to planning and launching a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign? Join me live!

4. Craft a great pitch.

The campaign pitch should answer the question – WHY now and WHY you?

If I give $10 to your crowdfunding campaign, what will that accomplish, and why does it have to be now? What is the urgency? What is the impact?

The pitch is where you need to spend the most time. It needs to be concrete, clear and concise.

See effective and compelling campaign pitches in action on the CauseVox website.

5. Choose your Campaign Hub.

Only after you have created a plan, set a goal and a deadline, and crafted your pitch should you choose a crowdfunding platform – your Campaign Hub.

Generosity by indiegogo is one of the most popular with nonprofits, due to the fact that campaigns can keep the money raised, even if the total goal is not met (not so with Kickstarter).

Note that each and every platform take a percentage of what you raise – that’s just the way it is.

Find one you are comfortable with and trust me, it will be much easier to run a campaign like this with a reputable software program rather than a simple Excel sheet and a PayPal account.

You can find listings of popular platforms in this blog post and this article.

6. Incorporate video.

It is absolutely vital that you tell a story with video, because this is the type of content that resonates and is most likely to be shared on social media. 

Razoo found that fundraisers with videos raise 4x more than those without.

For more information and some ideas for great nonprofit video storytelling, download the free guide, The Starter Guide to Nonprofit Video Storytelling.  

7. Test everything! 

Set up your campaign – make sure it looks visually appealing with your nonprofit branding and contact information front and center.

Upload the video and photos.

You have one chance to grab people – especially those who will be coming to your campaign and not know much about you.

First impressions are everything.  Then hit publish!

Want a detailed, step-by-step guide to planning and launching a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign? Join me live!

 8. Identify low hanging fruit.

Who will you ask first? Ideally, in the planning stage, you will already have secured pledges from the “low-hanging fruit” at your organization – people who already know and love you.

Ask staff, donors, Board members, volunteers, friends, family members, city officials, partners, anyone and everyone.

As an added incentive, create teams to see who can raise the most money, with a fun incentive at the end, like a half-day off or a cocktail party.

9. Recruit Online Brand Ambassadors.

Online Brand Ambassadors are those advocates who share your information online, via social media, email or blogging.

Reach out to them for help with the campaign, and make sure you give them the tools to ask others and spread the word.

Create a folder in Dropbox with sample tweets, Facebook posts and graphics so they can just cut and paste the information.

10. Work with influencers.

Conduct online research to find others who can help spread the word or donate.

Don’t just assume that just because someone has a lot of Twitter followers they will be interested in your cause (just as you wouldn’t assume a millionaire you have never met would donate a large sum to your organization).

Approach influencers personally – never send out an impersonal group email. Let them know that you want their help specifically, and why you think it would be a good match.

They are looking out for their online networks also, so be polite and be convincing.

11. Launch with a bang!

Campaigns that raise 30% of their goal within the first week are more likely to succeed.

Use your email list, your own network and your nonprofit’s online communities to spread the word.

Online fundraising platform Fundable found that social media is a critical factor in crowdfunding success – for every increase in Facebook friends that share the information (10, 100, 1000), the probability of success increases drastically (from 9%-, 20%, to 40%).

Blog about the campaign.

Work with local reporters.

Host a live streaming launch on Facebook, Instagram, or Periscope!

12. Update your supporters.

Don’t simply launch the campaign and leave it, expecting the donations to just roll in.

Crowdfunding campaigns raise 3x as much if they update their supporters at least every 5 days!

Keep them in the loop by posting short updates on the campaign progress. 

Want a detailed, step-by-step guide to planning and launching a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign? Join me live!

 13. Acknowledge milestones.

Send out an email or a Facebook post when you get halfway to your goal or when the campaign is half over.

People need to be reminded several times before it will stick, and creating momentum and publicizing successes will make others want to get on board.

Create a video where you and fellow staff members or volunteers thank donors and encourage everyone to make that last minute donations or help spread the word.

14. Celebrate!

Continually update and acknowledge throughout the campaign. But the work isn’t done once the deadline is met.

Let supporters know what happened – did you reach your goal?

If so, celebrate and make sure to tell them you couldn’t have done it without them.

If you didn’t, let donors know what the money raised will be able to accomplish, so they don’t feel as if their money is going to get lost in the shuffle.  

15. Keep up the momentum. 

Your new donors may still need to get to know you more so that you can build a long-term, deep relationship with them.

Create a special email or phone call welcome series for brand new donors who came on because of the crowdfunding campaign, in order to keep them interested and engaged.

Want a detailed, step-by-step guide to planning and launching a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign? Join me live!

Getting the results you want from a crowdfunding campaign is a serious investment in time and effort, but can be well worth it in raised awareness and an increase in donors.

If you continue to showcase the impact of your organization and the funds raised, you will grow a dedicated base of online supporters who will be more than happy to help you on your next project.  

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Comments 6

  1. Nathan

    Thanks for your blogs, there’s interesting and useful information here.
    I noticed some issues though, such as:
    1) You mention that “WeDidIt raised over $50,000” but according to the link you provided, they actually only raised 12,900 out of 50K campaign with that video… maybe it actually isn’t a great example.
    2) In #6 you have a link for how to create better videos. That site doesn’t seem to be live…
    3) The “leave a comment” link under the title doesn’t work…

    1. Post
      Julia Claire Campbell

      Thank you! I fixed the links inside the blog and tested the Leave A Comment link and it seems to be working. I appreciate your readership!

  2. Alex Roseborough

    Recent established (2017) 501C3, small community center, with shoe-string budget is seeking ways to create funds for capacity building and youth programs. We’re situated in one of Chicago’s highest crime-ridden communities, where the competition for financial and in-kind resources among nonprofits are more than competitive. We’re looking to sustain ourselves with a little help from new friends and sources. We look forward to being a solid pillar in the Austin community, in the city of Chicago. We are the Austin Community Family Center (ACFC).

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