The Ins and Outs of Successful Crowdfunding for Nonprofits

Carol Liang, Media Lab Intern, Boston College 2015

Recently, there has been a rise in the number of potential crowdfunding platforms for nonprofits. Last year, 30% of the $5 billion made from crowdfunding went to social causes. Crowdfundng, to many nonprofits, is the answer to the persistent barrier of funding. It’s an alternative method many now turn to because it is easy and shareable. In order to create a campaign that is effective, we have to ask ourselves three main questions: which platform is going to work best for the nonprofit campaign, what is the best way to utilize this platform in order to gain attention, and how we can get the audience to donate?

Which platform is going to work best for the nonprofit campaign?

You’ve probably heard of Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the two go-to crowdfunding platforms due to the substantial more attention they receive compared to fellow platform websites. Here are descriptions of the two to help you pick:

Kickstarter: One of the main downfalls of Kickstarter is that there is no specific plan for nonprofits — the platform is dedicated to creating projects and does not provide distinct features for nonprofit funding. Also, it is an all-or-nothing platform. If you don’t meet your goal, you won’t get any of the donations. This being said, Kickstarter is the most renowned crowdfunding platform, and therefore gets a significant amount of attention. There are many success stories that come out of kickstarter; one should even consider overlooking its negatives because of the great amount of attention it receives. I personally believe this is only a good fit for nonprofits that have a particularly captivating cause, as without this, the gamble of all-or-nothing is not worth it.

Indiegogo: Indiegogo, to me, certainly seems to be the best option for nonprofits. There is more flexibility involved in this platform in that the campaign does not have to be directed towards a project and the organization has the option of making it all-or-nothing or keeping pledges if the funding goal is not met. To top it off, there are special plans dedicated to nonprofits: along with a verified nonprofit badge on your page, 501(c)3 nonprofit’s get a 25% discount on platform fees along with other perks. Indiegogo is growing considerably, and is therefore receiving a vast amount of support and attention.

There are many other prospective platforms out there, which may be right for you. Here are a few appealing ones you should check out: Causevox, Fundly, Pozible, Razoo, and RocketHub

What is the best way to utilize this platform in order to gain attention?

• When you start a crowdfunding campaign, make sure you build a community before seeking an audience. It’s surprising how much of the funding actually comes from your own community! Make sure to use all forms of social media to reach out to others and construct a trusting community
• Be clear and concise about the cause
• Make your goal specific
• Have an attractive and captivating headline to draw in an audience
• Start small. If this is your first time using crowdfunding, build up your name and cause by starting off with a smaller objective

How can we get the audience to donate?

• The most imperative feature of the campaign is the story. The power of stories should never be disregarded. One strong story can become viral, which could create results far beyond primary expectations
• Create a short, attractive video to capture your audience’s attention. Here’s an example of an enticing video by New Era Colorado Foundation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh1qCf-ohOQ#t=107
• All in all, be creative and unique to stand out!

Want to learn more? Check out these links for more tips and inspiration:

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.31.31 PM