Crowdfunding can be an effective method of raising funds for charities of all shapes and sizes. There are many platforms around that will ‘host’ your project and attract potential funders in exchange for a small admin fee (usually taken from funds raised)—such as Crowdfunder, Indiegogo or GoFundMe.
On these sites, you have the opportunity to tell a (succinct) story of your charitable project. You can usually add relevant images and most platforms encourage you to link to a video within your project’s ‘pitch’—a video can quickly get your message across and demonstrate what it is you’re raising money for.
A lot of smaller charities don’t have a wide reach across social media and can struggle to get ‘eyes’ on the work they do; a crowdfunding campaign not only raises money, it potentially gives your cause greater exposure.
Statistics show that 64% of charities that use crowdfunding platforms are unlikely to receive funding from other sources. Fewer and fewer charities are being awarded funds from grant-making organisations, post-Covid, and many smaller causes don’t always fit funders’ criteria.
A crowdfunding campaign helps to market your charity and spread the word about your work. The people who donate to your campaign are essentially buying into your plans and the impact you plan to make; studies even show that 27% of the people who donate to a cause via crowdfunding go on to volunteer their time to that same charity.
So, that’s why you should launch a crowdfunding campaign. Now let’s look a little closer at how you do this.
Your crowdfunding campaign should be project based, rather than an overall/catch-all fund that simply asks for core costs for your charity. Whilst the latter is allowed, when you think of how many other good causes are likely to be on the platform—vying for donors’ attention—your plea needs to stand out amongst them. If your campaign is framed as a project, with a clear start, end and purpose, it’s easier to get the public on board. It’s also easier to detail successful outcomes and to measure the impact of the project/the support you plan to offer, which is the key information that will appeal to any donor looking to do good with their money.
On the subject of standing out from the crowd(funder), it does help if you have a grasp of how to market your charity and a little prowess when it comes to social media…because skills such as these will help your campaign. Even though most crowdfunding platforms have a great reach and large audiences, your project will attract more funding if you link to your project’s profile page across your charity’s social media accounts, and your own, too. Your work certainly isn’t done once you’ve created your project page, you need to keep pushing for donations throughout the length of the campaign. It’s therefore a good idea to plan out your marketing strategy before you make your project live, so that you know what you’re doing/saying, to whom and where, each day.
When setting up your profile page, look at other campaigns on the platform. You should be able to see which ones struck a chord with visitors to the site and which achieved their financial goals; take a leaf or two out of their books and see what you could draw from their campaign that you could adapt for yours. Don’t be overwhelmed by the amount of other charitable projects there may be on the platform you eventually use—statistics suggest that, actually, only 15% of charities use crowdfunding as a funding source, so there may not be as much direct competition as you think. One reason for this, according to a survey on the subject, is simply a lack of understanding of how crowdfunding works. And yet it’s quite simple: create and ‘frame’ your project and what it hopes to achieve, complete your project page on the platform of your choice, then share the heck out of it when it goes live. That is a simplification, but it is, essentially, what happens.
On some crowdfunding platforms you can offer donors a ‘reward’ for their financial gifts. This is a good tool for social enterprises/businesses raising money on these sites, as they can offer a taster/first pass at the product they plan to launch to all early donors/adopters of their brand. You may think, as a charity, that you can’t offer anything as a reward, but you may just need to think outside of the box. For instance, you could hold a special event at the place you deliver your support for donors who purchase a reward; you could give them a personal tour/give a talk relating to the work you do, have them meet a few of your beneficiaries. It doesn’t have to be a glitzy, celebrity-filled night, just an opportunity to get up close and personal with your charity’s work. Because, if someone is planning to donate to your cause, they’re clearly interested in the support you offer—a reward option may simply encourage them to donate a larger amount, and it also gives them the opportunity to acquire a more in-depth understanding of your cause. Who knows where this may lead…you may gain a lifelong donor, a committed volunteer and/or an effective ambassador for your charity.
Crowdfunding may not suit every charity or good cause. You must be clear about your plans and the potential outcomes of your project, and you must commit to getting as many eyes as possible on your campaign during its lifetime. It’s not easy, but it can be worth the effort, as demonstrated by the many charities that use it as part of their fundraising strategy.
If you’d like help creating your first crowdfunding campaign, contact me on 0114 350 3354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.