Seven benefits and ten tips for crowdfunding

pexels-photo-26400Crowdfunding is simply raising small amounts of money from many people via a crowdfunding platform.

Given the current criticism of fundraising techniques, lack of public trust, a greater demand for transparency and changing supporter demographic, and the ability of individuals to circumnavigate charities to raise money quickly for things they care about, I think more charities could be testing crowdfunding as part of their funding portfolio.

Why? What are the benefits of crowdfunding?

  • It’s a complementary part of an overall fundraising portfolio, people who make a regular gift may also like to give for a one-off project
  • According to the Nesta report, ‘Crowdfund good causes’, one in four people had, in addition to donating, offered to volunteer for the project they backed showing demonstrating non-financial benefits for charities in engaging people in crowdfunding
  • It can offer appealing match funding opportunities, from local corporate partners, to major donors to community groups and clubs
  • It might be a good way of engaging first time donors, and then offering them the opportunity to get more involved
  • It can be a way to test a concept or pilot a project to leverage greater funding opportunities like The Lightyear Foundation did with Lab 13 Ghana campaign
  • It’s an opportunity to educate and engage all internal teams in fundraising
  • Its transparent, your project and the levels of funding are available for anyone to see.

The best way to learn is by doing. If you are thinking about your own crowdfunding campaign, first put a fiver in someone else’s campaign and learn from the experience.

Then, when you are ready to set up your own campaign here are ten tips to help your crowdfunding campaign succeed.

  1. Decide if crowdfunding is the best way to raise funds for your project, ask the question, ‘How can we raise the money for this project and what is the best way to do it?’
  2. Be clear on the why – what is the difference your project will make – and to who?
  3. How are you going to do it – what does the project look like?
  4. Decide if you want to go for an all or nothing approach. (some platforms only release funding if you reach your total)
  5. Decide on the best platform for your project*
  6. Be clear on how much you need over a short (suggest 30-40 days) amount of time (and I’d suggest a realistic rather than aspirational target for your first test campaign)
  7. Have different levels of suggested pledges and rewards. Remember rewards don’t have to be expensive to you to mean a lot to the person receiving them. For example a speed of thank you, a picture of the person you helped or a special opportunity to visit the project can be priceless rewards for someone who has backed your campaign
  8. Get all your networks lined up and ready to take action before you go live (like you would in a private phase of a major appeal)
  9. People don’t live online or offline, think about the different channels you can utilise to engage people your campaign, include press and PR opportunities like Doctors of the World UK international did launching their campaign at the same time as BBC coverage about the migrant crisis
  10. Develop one, clear, crisp message for your campaign and create a simple pack of materials and suggested channels to share with your networks including;
  • 4-5 key sentences expressing the campaign goals
  • Hashtags and suggested messages for social media
  • Suggested email messages
  • Campaign brand, colours and imagery
  • Video content
  • Powerful stories of the difference support will make

Give crowdfunding a go

If it doesn’t work, consider why, learn, adapt and try again. If it works you can then use your results as leverage to your board to do more, get more people involved and engage other funders. Crowdfunding is a tool to leverage different models of finance from new and current supporters in order to make more impact. If you don’t consider testing if it would work for your cause, you could be missing an opportunity to make a bigger impact for your beneficiaries.

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