Crowdfunding—also known as crowdsourcing—has become a potent and viable means of raising money for thousands of non-profits around the globe. Indeed, if done correctly, such a campaign can see full funding for a particular effort or event. However, if approached in a haphazard manner or not given enough attention to detail from the onset, thousands of crowdfunding campaigns have also failed miserably, leaving black marks on organizations and putting undue pressure on more traditional sources and means of raising capital for your cause.
Joe Garecht, author, non-profit consultant and founder of The Fundraising Authoring has seen crowdfunding campaigns both succeed and fail, and as such offers up some key tips and takeaways to ensure your non-profit’s hard work is rewarded when embarking on this unique fundraising endeavor.
- Don’t ignore the offline elements of an online campaign. As Garecht notes, “many non-profits hear the phrase ‘crowdfunding’ and assume that all of the activities for the campaign will take place online.” Those running the program discount the importance of face-to-face meetings and phone calls believing a strong social media presence and e-mail marketing push is all it takes for success. It’s recommended, therefore, that organizations hold meetings with potential donors and even stage events based around the campaign—it will remind people that there are real people behind the virtual cause and allow donors to feel a connection to your goals.
- Garecht is quick to cite proof that, even with the potential for new donors that comes with an online campaign, the majority of money to that campaign still comes from current donors and volunteers and their mutual connections. “No crowdfunding effort has ever been fully funded using a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy,” writes Garecht. So it’s important to make pleas to current supporters asking them to share your campaign with their friends, family, colleagues etc. through emails, personal notes or just a quick phone call. Make them active participants in the effort and urge them to utilize their personal social media channels, and even consider setting up a “leadership committee” comprised of a group of dedicated supporters who can help spread the word and make the monetary “ask.”
- Stay in constant contact with your supporters throughout the crowdfunding process. “Smart organizations use email (both for newsletters as well as individual solicitations), social media, phone calls and snail mail (for appeal letters) to keep donors updated about the campaign,” Garecht notes. In short, successful efforts keep donors in the loop constantly about the state of campaign, how far it has to go, timelines for giving and the like. After all, the online world moves so fast and has so many elements vying for attention that it’s easy to develop apathy for a particular cause unless donors are reminded again and again how close—or how far—a campaign is to becoming fully funded.