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Crowdfunding for Nonprofits: 5 Tips to Get Up and Running

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Published March 4, 2022 Reading Time: 5 minutes

Crowdfunding dates back to the summer of 1885 when The New York World newspaper ran an advertisement encouraging Americans to help fund the assembly of the Statue of Liberty. Since then, it has evolved to help nonprofits, startups, researchers, educators, and individuals alike raise approximately $17.2 billion yearly in North America, with projections for the market to reach $300 billion by 2030

Crowdfunding for nonprofits is a staple of modern fundraising success. However, you can’t simply create a campaign page, launch it, and expect donations to roll in. Like any fundraising campaign, there’s a fair amount of work and strategy that goes into crowdfunding.

Get the most out of your next nonprofit crowdfunding campaign with the following tips. Keep these best practices in mind as you define new organizational goals and refer back to them often as you refine your strategy.

Download Your Crowdfunding Campaign Checklist

Tip #1: Know Your Nonprofit Audience to Maximize Crowdfunding Potential

One of your first steps towards building, launching, and sustaining a successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaign is knowing your audience. To help pin your donors down, ask yourself some important questions like:

  • Who will we market this campaign to?
  • What does our average donor look like?
  • Who typically engages with our fundraising campaigns?
  • Do we have more success on certain channels, like email over social media?
  • Are there demographics we haven’t appealed to before that might like this campaign?

It can be difficult to gather insights like this around your audience, but segmenting your supporters is a great first step.

Consider the following donor segments to get started:

  • First-time donors
  • Recurring donors
  • Major donors
  • Repeat donors
  • Event participant

It’s important to understand exactly who you’re talking to. Blanketed mass donation appeals don’t typically generate the same results as their hyper-targeted counterparts. A solid segmentation strategy can help get your message in front of the right people at the right time to grow giving.

Once you identify who makes up your donor base, consider soft-launching your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign to your most loyal donors to establish early momentum. Not only will a targeted appeal resonate with them, it also establishes social proof for your campaign before you release it to the general public.

Tip #2: Choose the Right Crowdfunding Platform for Your Nonprofit

You shouldn’t choose an online crowdfunding platform without doing the proper research. The right set of tools can be the difference between achieving your goal or falling short. Host your crowdfunding campaign on a platform that matches the needs of your nonprofit to ensure a smooth experience.

Remember, your crowdfunding campaign’s success is driven by your staff, powered by your resources and supporters, and guided by your fundraising and marketing strategies. 

If you have a limited staff, you may need to consider a crowdfunding platform that provides campaign templates to get you started, or a hands-on customer service team that can offer help along the way. Likewise, it’s important to consider each platform’s customization options. Consistent branding, ways to showcase impact, and donor experience are critical to the success of your campaign. 

Do your research to discover a crowdfunding platform that supports your nonprofit’s unique goals. From there, you can comfortably take the time to create great elements, stories, photos, and videos to populate the page and drive donations.

Explore the 12 Best Crowdfunding Sites

Tip #3: Empower Your Donors With Helpful Tools and Insights

When it comes to empowering your supporters, guide them from discovery of the campaign, through exploration of your mission, to the completion of a donation.

One way to encourage donations is to showcase just how much their gift will impact your beneficiaries. Classy’s impact blocks are a great tool for this, as you can customize them to include specific dollar amounts and details on where that money will go. 

 Classy’s impact blocks

When someone donates to your crowdfunding campaign, they’re saying that your cause is important to them. Make it easy for your donors to spread the word about their impact and celebrate that they’re making a difference.

Consider sending your supporters a few resources after their donation is complete to encourage their ongoing advocacy. For example, you might send an email with custom social media photos or an easy-to-digest messaging document about how to communicate your nonprofit’s story.

What’s important here is that you help them feel proud of their donation so they can inspire their  friends, family, coworkers, and diverse networks to also consider joining your community. This goes a long way toward donor stewardship as well, increasing their chances of returning for future campaigns.

Your 5-Step Plan to Retain Lifetime Donors

Tip #4: Try Peer-to-Peer Fundraising to Engage Wider Audiences

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a specific type of crowdfunding that allows supporters to align with your cause in personalized ways. Once supporters land on your main campaign page, they can either donate or create a personal fundraising page to raise money on behalf of your organization.

peer-to-peer campaign example

The impact of individual fundraising pages continues to grow. In 2021, individual fundraising pages brought in an average of 20 donors, up from 18 donors in 2020, and the amount raised by an individual fundraising page increased 34% year over year. Through this individual fundraising page, supporters can creatively express their direct connection to your mission.

Set fundraisers up with social posts, messaging, and resources to promote their fundraising pages to their diverse networks. This not only helps them raise more money to fund your timely goal, but also increases their chances of encouraging friends or family to fundraise too. 

What’s more, peer-to-peer fundraisers can raise more money for your nonprofit than they could donate out of their own pockets. In fact, Classy’s The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022 report found that time-based campaigns that include peer-to-peer raise on average 3.8X more than all other time-based campaign types. 

Explore 130+ Fresh Data Insights

In addition to the financial return, peer-to-peer fundraisers have the potential to bring in entirely new audiences of supporters through self-promotion of your mission. In fact, four out of every five donors who donate to a fundraiser are brand new to the organization.

Tip #5: Leave Room to Grow Your Crowdfunding Strategy

Getting a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign up and running is no small feat. At this point, you’ve had to:

  • Identify and segment your audience 
  • Choose an online crowdfunding platform that meets your needs
  • Empower your supporters with helpful resources
  • Learn how peer-to-peer fundraising fits into the picture

With all of that in mind, it’s important to understand that you may not reach your ultimate fundraising goal the first time around. However, that’s not a bad thing: fail fast and carry your learnings into your next crowdfunding campaign.

Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it could take your organization a while to build a crowdfunding engine that engages supporters, elicits donations, and stewards donors into future campaigns. Be patient, and before you know it, you’ll be a pro.

Crowdfunding Can Help Your Nonprofit Raise More

As you move through your nonprofit’s crowdfunding campaign, take the time to lay out a robust fundraising strategy and create thoughtful marketing content that speaks to your audience. If you’d like to dig into even more details around crowdfunding, make sure to download our guide, The Anatomy of a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign.

campaign checklist

Checklists for Crowdfunding, Peer-to-Peer, and Event Fundraising Campaigns

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