crowdfunding for nonprofits

Nonprofit Crowdfunding Tips: How To Plan a Successful Campaign


Crowdfunding is a completely online fundraising method for nonprofits. Nonprofits create a fundraising page and share it on social media for their supporters to see. As this type of campaign is so simple to put together, it is one of the best fundraising ideas out there for nonprofits.

Even with its simplicity, you cannot just wing a crowdfunding campaign. So, we are here to help with our nonprofit fundraising tips and tricks.

On the agenda is:

Let's go!

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When To Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign

You should plan well in advance because all fundraising campaigns work best when you build in enough time!

Depending on the crowdfunding platform you choose to use, you may need to go through some steps first. For example, you might need to provide documents to prove that you are a nonprofit.

Then, it'll take some time to approve your project proposal. To reach your fundraising goal, you have enough time to reach out to your potential supporters.

In general, fundraising campaigns are often launched a couple of months or even a year before the project or initiative that you are fundraising for.

As far as the duration of your campaign, this will depend on the amount you’re aiming for and whether you will be actively calling and emailing your supporters. 

It may be difficult to collect $50,000 in two weeks. On the other hand, raising $500 over the course of 6 months may tire your supporters out or undermine the credibility of your project.

It is important to know that a long campaign is not necessarily more successful. Some platforms place a maximum length to crowdfund -- usually 2 months. 

crowdfunding-for-nonprofits-emily-taking-notesEmily is taking notes to get ready for her crowdfunding campaign!


What Amount To Crowdfund

Some crowdfunding platforms operate on an all-or-nothing basis, which means that you do not get your funds unless you reach your fundraising goal. If you choose one of these platforms, you need to go for a safe goal rather than a stretch one.

Your goal should also factor in any operational costs. For example, do you still have enough funding to do what you want to do once you subtract the cost of paying your employees for the time that they spent setting up the campaign?

Pro Tip: If you plan on using an all-or-nothing setup, consider crowdfunding for events, tools, or other small things. That way, you are more likely to reach your objective.  


How To Present a Compelling Story

The more human-centered and transparent you are in the crowdfunding proposal, the more you will maximize its attractiveness to prospective donors.

When you’re brainstorming how to create a compelling story, consider how your nonprofit began, why the nonprofit is unique in its mission, and what to show as its track record of accomplishments. 

Tell your nonprofit's "story" so that potential donors want to support your nonprofit's mission! Feel free to add photos, short videos, and infographics to really catch their attention.


Tristan is thinking about what story he wants to tell about his nonprofit!


How To Choose a Crowdfunding Platform

There are two different types of crowdfunding for nonprofits:

  • Donation-based. This is the simplest way to fundraise. People donate to an individual or organization. 

  • Reward-based. Donors receive rewards based on the amount donated. 

Depending on your organization’s needs, you should ask yourself these questions to determine which crowdfunding platform is best suited for you:

  • Is the platform adapted to the nature of my project? Are there other fundraising projects on the platform similar to mine? Are organizations like yours (arts, startups, or public health) also using it?

  • Does the platform help promote fundraisers to its users or are fundraiser organizers solely responsible for increasing visibility?

  • Is there a fee to use the platform?

  • What happens if the goal amount is not reached? Can you still receive the amount that was raised?

A popular crowdfunding platform is GoFundMe, a donation-based platform. You can fundraise as an individual on behalf of a nonprofit organization. GoFundMe displays how much is raised in real-time, which is really useful! 

If you are fundraising for a creative project that has a "deliverable" product, such as an album, film, or book, Kickstarter is well-known for crowdfunding. You can create donor perks for increasing donation levels. This will encourage donors to bump up their donated amount, by offering exclusive benefits. 

Read on for more information about offering donor perks!

Pro Tip: As donations come in through the platform, you need a way to manage them. We recommend investing in fundraising software or donor management software for this purpose. You can even use it for other fundraising efforts, such as Giving Tuesday campaigns, making it useful long past this one particular fundraiser.


What Perks To Offer Donors

One aspect of crowdfunding that is similar to existing membership or donor models is that some organizations offer some “perks” to donors supporting the nonprofit.

Keep in mind that you should offer perks that correspond to the donation amount, so they will change depending on if the donation was $5, $20, $50, $100, $500, or more than $1,000+! 

You will want to set up an incrementally increasing number of perks so that donors are enticed to donate more in order to receive exclusive benefits or access. 

The higher amount the donor gives, the more “VIP" treatment they should receive!

Some examples of great donor perks include: 

  • Exclusive event for donors only

  • Swag with nonprofit logo (tote bags, T-shirts, and reusable water bottles) 

  • Early access to ticket sales or webinars

Just be sure you’re offering perks that you know your nonprofit can deliver! You should make sure that the perks are inexpensive, but will be viewed as a benefit to the donors. 

Let’s say you offer an exclusive party for your VIP donors. However, the cost of renting a venue, paying for food and drinks, and hiring staff to work the event is actually the same cost or more than the amount you received from all the VIP donors. This is a classic case of not planning ahead for all costs, and weighing the donations against delivering perks! 

The opposite is also true, make sure to spend your precious money on perks that are beneficial to your donors. If you find inexpensive little trinkets that you can give to all of your VIP donors, but if they either aren't useful or come across as cheap, you are better off not purchasing them at all. Be sure to think in the brains of your donors to find something that is both budget-friendly and adds value! 

Pro Tip: In addition to any perks you offer, also send every donor a donation letter. This letter serves as a thank you note to go along with your thank you perks. This show of appreciation can make them feel valued, keeping them in your donor lifecycle as a continued supporter.


If a donor donates more than $250, you are also legally required to include a donation receipt so that they can write it off on their taxes. You can bundle this receipt with the thank you letter for convenience.


How To Mobilize Your Community

Start by mobilizing friends and family members who are closest to you. They will be inspired to donate because they know how important it is to you!

After mobilizing your first circle of friends and family, the second circle (the acquaintances of your friends and family) will also be interested. This will create buzz that might even inspire a third circle to also donate to the crowdfunding campaign. 

Sometimes, for smaller fundraising goals, mobilizing the first circle is enough. Start getting your contact lists together!

Feel free to segment your community by whether they already know your organization, whether they have attended an event before, or used to be a donor, in order to personalize your messages and present your project in the most favorable light.

Pro Tip: Looking for more fundraising ideas? Consider corporate sponsorships, grants, matching donations, peer-to-peer fundraisers, recurring donations, text messages, silent auctions, etc. The options are endless!


Final Thoughts

With crowdfunding, you give your community the opportunity to take ownership of your cause and contribute to your organization's success. Once you work out your budget and message, you can start putting your campaign together. Ready to begin?

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💡What is the best crowdfunding platform?

There is no "best" platform because every nonprofit has different needs. However, some popular ones include GoFundMe and Kickstarter. Find out more. 

🔑 How do you incentivize donors to contribute to your crowdfunding campaign?

Offer perks to potential donors to incentivize them to contribute to your campaign. For example, you can give them early signup access to events or send them merch with your logo. Find out more. 

📝 What are the different types of crowdfunding?

Donation-based crowdfunding is when someone donates to an individual or organization and gets nothing in return. The other common type of crowdfunding is reward-based. This is where the donor gets certain rewards, such as a free T-shirt, based on the amount they donate. Find out more.


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