Today, crowdfunding is a viable fundraising method that can be successfully utilized by nonprofit organizations as well as individuals. Put simply, crowdfunding relies on an online software platform that allows individuals, organizations and companies to make donations with a simple click of the mouse. When crowdfunding campaigns are run correctly, nonprofits see their fundraising results catapult far beyond old-school techniques. However, successful crowdfunding campaigns require far more than just setting up a page and asking for money. Here are some missteps that organizations must watch out for when it comes to conducting crowdfunding campaigns.
Mistake 1: Insufficient Communication to Supporters
Setting up a crowdfunding campaign couldn’t be simpler, but it is by no means a set it and forget it project. Nonprofits that create a campaign and expect donors to miraculously start giving are setting themselves up for failure and disappointment. Crowdfunding works very much like traditional social networking and requires constant engagement with your network.
Start marketing the campaign to your top supporters far in advance of the launch using your organization’s newsletters, email communications and social networking sites. You want to recruit this group to help you get the word out. Additionally, many crowdfunding sites, like Fundly.com, allow you to include photos, videos and other interactive slideshows to help get your donors pumped to be a part of the campaign.
Mistake 2: Not Setting a Clear Goal
If all you tell donors is that you want money, they are unlikely to provide the level of resources that you are seeking. Instead, non-profits should state a clear monetary goal, a clear time frame for achieving that goal and the specific items or projects that the funds will go to support.
Many nonprofits new to crowdfunding mistakenly believe that they will raise millions of dollars in just a few hours or days. Realistically, this probably won't happen and will cause disappointment for the organization and donors. Instead, stay grounded by taking the time to estimate a reasonable goal at the onset.
Mistake 3: Not Utilizing Social Media to Gain Support
Crowdfunding and social networking are very closely tied, and it almost impossible to conduct a successful crowdfunding campaign without using social media. Studies show that sharing a crowdfunding campaign on Facebook increases donations by 350 percent. Create a social media plan that includes regular interactions with followers. You may even want to run contests each hour to give donors an incentive to give sooner rather than later.
Mistake 4: Neglecting to Set Giving Levels
Donors give more money when they are given donation options to choose from rather than just picking a dollar amount themselves. For this reason, nonprofits must carefully analyze their donor base and set a variety of donation levels that will suit both individual donors as well as corporate ones. However, for simplicity’s sake, set up no more than six tiers of giving levels.
When defining these levels, don’t neglect the smaller donors. While some individuals may only donate $1 or $5, they may have thousands of social media follows that they convince to do the same. The result is that you will garner far more from these smaller donors than from many of the larger ones.
Mistake 5: Not Seeding the Campaign Funds
The hardest fundraising dollar to obtain is always the first one, whether it is via crowdfunding or traditional forms. Part of the reason for this is psychological. While everyone wants to be a part of contributing to a good cause, they don’t want to be the first person to make a donation. This doesn’t mean donating money yourself. Rather, it means obtaining commitments from long-time donors and board members to contribute, once the campaign starts. By obtaining these commitments early, you are ensuring a more successful kick off to the crowdfunding campaign.