Crowdfunding can be an exciting way to raise much-needed funds and reach new donors to your cause by leveraging the networks of staff, volunteers, and friends. Yet to make the most of all crowdfunding technology at your fingertips, you need to get past the “build it and they will come” mentality and apply some tried and true, old-school fundraising principles.
Specifically, train your team in each of these areas to boost your chances of crowdfunding success every time:
Remember that mission is #1.
Crowdfunding is important, yes. But it’s a means, not an end. The purpose of your crowdfunding campaign is to support your overarching mission! That means you need to train everyone involved in your crowdfunding campaign about your mission and its purpose.
Why is this important? Putting your mission first sets the tone of your entire effort. Pictures of your mission recipients (clients, patients, students), stories about how you help them, and statistics that show your effectiveness can all bring into focus why you exist—and why your audience should financially support you as well.
Set your goals.
Your goal is to raise money, right? Of course! But if that’s all you do, you’re missing out on the real advantage of crowdfunding—spreading your message. Crowdfunding is an effective guerilla marketing tool as much as it is a fundraising tool.
In nearly all fundraising campaigns, people respond more strongly to funding specific needs rather than a solicitation for support of your general operating budget. That means you should train people on how to break down any goal into specific parts that can help someone. For example, crowdfunding to keep Camp Swampy afloat for another season is a worthy goal, but not particularly appealing. Why should anyone care? Well, they’ll make a difference in the life of a child!
How about camperships to Camp Swampy? A week may cost $500 per child. You can also express this as $100 per day, or $12.50 per hour. You might even position it as “an hour at the pool,” or “an afternoon playing soccer,” or “lunch hour,” where you focus on the nutritious meal they’re getting that they wouldn’t at home.
Remember, fundraising is about more than getting dollars in your budget. It’s about building your list of donors—and building a list of donors is what crowdfunding does best. This can mean many more potential gifts outside your crowdfunding campaign, and for the next one. Just make sure you specify the objectives you’ll be aiming toward from the very beginning.
Prepare your volunteers.
Your volunteers are going to encourage their friends, relatives, co-workers, and online community members all about your nonprofit. All they need to do is send the link, right?
Not so fast. Have you trained them on what to say in their electronic messages to their friends? And what happens if someone reaches out with a question? Millions of crowdfunding messages go out daily—and a significant portion of them are deleted with a roll of the eyes in less than 10 seconds.
So how can you get yours to stand out? It’s essential that you prepare your volunteers with example messages and templates that will at least give their appeal a shot. You’ll want to equip them with killer subject lines, strong marketing copy, and clear instructions for participation.
You’ll be their hero because it’ll make them look good to their contacts, and you’ll get a higher response rate. It’s a win-win!
Work top-down, inside-out.
Do you ever wonder how hospitals and universities raise so much money so quickly for their mega-campaigns? They follow a very specific rule: top-down, inside-out. But what does that mean? Every fundraising campaign should get the people with the highest ability to give first. Put another way? Go for the low hanging fruit.
The same goes for people who are close to the project but may not have substantial means. They’re your influencers—people with authentic, on-the-ground stories that compel.
There’s also psychology at work. If prospective donors see that you’re well on your way to meet your goal, they’re more likely to give. So, the more money and donors you can get from the top, insider donors early in your campaign, the higher the chance that you’ll succeed. Nobody wants to risk the embarrassment of participating in a failed campaign. By working from the top-down, inside-out, you’ll boost prospects’ confidence in your organization, and the friend that’s solicited a donation.
Know your competition.
You think your competition is the charity next door, right? It’s your volunteer’s other friend with their own crowdfunding campaign.
Wrong! It’s Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Target.
Why is that? Just think about what your potential donor would do with their cash if they were to choose not to give it to you. For some, yes, it would go to another charity. But for most, it’s that new pair of jeans they were eyeing, or the video game characters, or a camp stove for their next outdoor trip.
This means selecting a crowdfunding platform that makes the gift transaction quick, easy, and with a familiar feel—like buying from their favorite online retailer.
Understand why people give.
In their groundbreaking book, The Seven Faces of Philanthropy, Russ Alan Prince and Karen Maru File identified seven kinds of people and the reasons they make charitable gifts: Communitarians, The Devout, Altruists, Dynasts, Repayers, Investors, and Socialites. They found that only two really put taxes as a top consideration for giving—and between them, it was less than 50% of those studied.
You have a good chance of knowing the motivations of your volunteers. Did they experience a similar program at one time in their life? Then they could be Repayers, wanting to give back because they had such a positive experience. Are they business leaders who are invested in a strong community? Think about Communitarians. Are you working in a faith-based community where your volunteers might reach out to others to share their views? Consider approaching them as Devout donors.
Training yourself and your colleagues to spot different kinds of donors is essential in your crowdfunding messaging and approach. That way, you can create more targeted appeals that forge deeper connections with the intended audience.
Remember to say thanks.
What you’re hoping for with your crowdfunding campaign happens—and all sorts of people respond. What’s your next step? Get your program started, right? Wrong! Now you have to take the time to say thank you.
Your #1 responsibility after a gift is made is to thank the donor—and train your volunteers to do the same. Sure, your crowdfunding software can do that for you, but would you like that? Not as much as you would love to get a personal thanks in the form of a phone call, email, text message, or even (dare I say) a handwritten note. Not being thanked in a timely fashion is one of the biggest reasons why people don’t make repeat gifts.
But it doesn’t stop there. To keep this person as a donor, you need to build a relationship, and that all starts with your nonprofit’s thank you. It’s important to remember that in most crowdfunding campaigns, their strongest relationship is likely with whoever shared your campaign and encouraged them to give. While the donor might support your mission because you prepared your fundraisers well, assume first that they made a gift because your fundraiser asked, and second because of your impactful cause.
One powerful way to say thanks is with a progress report on the project they funded. Let’s go back to Camp Swampy. The kid they sponsored had a great time. Tell your donor! If you can, get a letter, video, or audio clip of the child talking about their favorite part of the camp. Seeing the tangible results of their donation, however big or small, makes a donor feel good about their gift, and increases their chance of sticking with you beyond your initial crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money and reach donors you may never have reached otherwise using technology that makes giving easy. With strategic training in each of the above techniques, your crowdfunding may just raise a lot more than you ever would have expected. Good luck!
This guest post was contributed by Matt Hugg at Nonprofit.Courses.
Matt Hugg is an author and instructor in nonprofit management in the US and abroad. He is president and founder of Nonprofit.Courses, an on-demand, eLearning educational resource for nonprofit leaders, staff, board members, and volunteers, with thousands of courses in nearly every aspect of nonprofit work.