CROWDFUNDING BASICS FOR NOT-FOR-PROFITS
For those non-profits willing to put in the necessary research, crowdfunding may be an ideal addition to normal fundraising efforts. Crowdfunding refers to raising funds online from a group of financial backers. In the non-profit sector, these “investments” come in the form of online contributions.
Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter and indiegogo were specifically launched to help artists and entrepreneurs obtain financing for various projects. Over time they have also been used to fund charitable giving campaigns by non-profits. Other sites, such as CauseVox, Fundraise.com and Fundly specifically target the needs of non-profit organizations.
These crowdfunding platforms allow the party attempting to raise funds to create a fundraising page, typically in exchange for a variety of fees unique to the particular site.
The news focuses on the many successes of crowdfunding campaigns. For example, a recent news story involved a Kickstarter campaign for the Reading Rainbow App, which raised $1 million in 11 hours. Non-profits should proceed with caution however as the typical non-profit may not have such overnight success.
However, a non-profit can run a successful crowdfunding campaign by following a few simple tips:
Have a specific goal and duration for the campaign – Simply trying to raise funds isn’t enough to appeal to the “crowd”. Typically crowdfunding campaigns have specific start and end dates, thus appeals with specific goals have a better chance of success. A capital building campaign, a grant match, an equipment purchase, or similar request has a better shot of being successful than general requests for funds.
Having a limited lifespan instills a sense of urgency in your contributors. And for the non-profit this limited duration allows your management team and core supporters to focus on the campaign, directing all necessary resources to getting the word out to potential donors.
Let your audience know the impact of their donations – Everyone loves a compelling story. Now you need to put your campaign’s focus into words. Since donors come in all sizes, it is best to show how various levels of giving can make a significant impact. Show what the smallest contribution can provide, as well as the impact of larger donations. In other words, let your contributors know the impact of their generosity.
Market your campaign – Even the aforementioned Reading Rainbow App success started somewhere. Using every marketing channel at its disposal, your team should try to reach as many possible contributors as possible. Prior to the campaign launch notify your staff, current supporters and mailing list recipients of your intentions. Use direct mailings, social media posts, enewsletters, and print and web advertising to promote your upcoming crowdfunding campaign. Depending on the size of your campaign, a kickoff event may also be in order.
Appeal to your core supporters – Your current supporters are not just a great resource for contributions, but also your best method of referrals. Ensure that you keep them abreast of any crowdfunding campaigns and encourage them, either personally or through their employers, to link to your fundraising page. Finally, at the conclusion of your campaign, make sure to thank each of your contributors in a personal fashion.
Taking into account these basic suggestions, the team of a non-profit can begin to outline a crowdfunding campaign and research the best online resources to meet the specific goals of your organization. The success of a campaign is to a large extent determined in the planning stage, wherein you identify the goals, the target audience, and the means to get your organization's message out to potential supporters.
If you have any questions regarding the article above or any other issue affecting your not-for-profit organization please contact your Blue & Co. advisor or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 800-717-BLUE
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