By Andrea Levandowski
You’ve probably heard of Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) as a means to raise funds and maybe Indiegogo too (www.indiegogo.com). You may have read about the amazing results others have had by using these crowdfunding sites. If you are thinking about trying a crowdfunding platform for your nonprofit, ask yourself, Is your organization ready to launch a campaign?
Crowdfunding success stories can make it seem as though the only thing required to raise lots of moneyis a campaign page. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Creating a campaign that compels people to contribute, whether as donors or investors, requires a lot of time, energy, and preparation. The most successful campaigns involve individuals or organizations with large networks, excellent communication and a captivating story.
If you are considering a crowdfunding campaign for your organization, it is important to spend enough time planning. The amount of time will depend on many factors, including your organization’s familiarity with fundraising, network of supporters, purpose in crowdfunding, and ultimate goals.
Before getting started, there are a few questions to ask:
- Is crowdfunding the best strategy? Nonprofit organizations fundraise in many different ways,and crowdfunding is just one more option. If your donors are not comfortable with online giving or using crowdfunding websites, this platform may not work. Weigh the pros and cons of other fundraising strategies and choose what works best for your needs.
- Who is running the show? At least one person needs to be monitoring the campaign when it goes live. Other people in your organization will also be involved with aspects of the planning, marketing, and communication, but for the duration of the campaign, someone should take responsibility for running the campaign on the crowdfunding platform and responding to any issues or questions that may arise.
- How much money do you need to raise? Some crowdfunding campaigns collect general funds, but if your organization is looking to fund a project, you will need a budget in place before setting your fundraising goal. This point is especially important if crowdfunding will make up the bulk of your project’s financing. Take a look at other committed funds as well; being able to show potential funders that there are already committed funds can only help add credibility to your campaign. Most crucial, make sure your budget figures are based on reality so that your project can actually happen as planned.
- How will donors know the campaign is happening? Promotion should be built into your plan even before the campaign goes live. If donors do not know you are fundraising, they will not give. Although crowdfunding is popular, there are so many individuals and organizations using it that the chances of someone stumbling upon your campaign and choosing to give are slim.
More than likely, a good portion of your donors will be people who already know your organization and may have contributed in the past. Plan how to best reach your networks through a combination of email, social media, broadcast media, print mailings, etc…
Keeping these questions in mind will help to guide your planning. There are many books, articles, and blog entries that provide more information and advice from people who have first-hand experience. You can find just a few here:
The allure of easy money is tempting for any organization, but when it comes to crowdfunding, success takes planning and work to make it successful.
Andrea Levandowski is the Reference Librarian for Instruction and Funding Information at the New Jersey State Library. The State Library has been a Funding Information Network partner of the Foundation Center for over 40 years, and Andrea has managed and curated this collection of resources for individual andnonprofit grantseekers since 2009. In addition, Andrea provides training on grant resources, the grant-seeking process, crowdfunding, and other topics through classes and individualized sessions.