7 Valuable Lessons New Nonprofits Can Glean from Crowd Funding

7 Valuable Lessons New Nonprofits Can Glean from Crowd Funding

March 17, 2016 Lynette Garet Fundraising 0 Comment

By following the examples set by successful crowdfunding campaigns, nonprofits can learn some valuable lessons

The idea of crowd funding, where one can put their product or cause to the masses, and ask for help in gaining the necessary capital to fund them, is not a new one. It has, however, brought about some smart new strategies when it comes to appropriating the funds needed to keep businesses — and nonprofits — going. A smart nonprofit will look to recent successful crowdfunded campaigns to discover what is was that made them so fruitful, and apply those principals to their own fund raising efforts. Here are seven lessons a nonprofit can learn from crowd funding projects and how they can apply them to their own campaigns.
1. Plan and manage. Good crowd funding campaigns treat the endeavor as a business engagement. From start to finish, they map out what the project will look like, identify key people to lead different parts and set definitive start and end dates. Treat any fundraising activity in the same manner, and project manage it as you would any other part of your nonprofit.
Once the ball is rolling on a crowd funded or fundraising project, day-to-day management is vital to its success. Find examples of crowd funded projects, and follow their lead when it comes to keeping your target audience engaged and present.
2. Know your audience. Who you market to is a huge part in determining whether your project will hit its goals or not. Crowd funded projects that meet their goals choose a target audience, and tailor copy, graphics and appeals for help with this audience in mind.
3. Be realistic in your expectations. It’s important to keep your audience in mind when setting goals for your project as well. Crowd funded projects that work do so because they set realistic goals and expectations of their target audiences, and don’t overshoot the mark. Transparency during the course of the fundraising project’s run also helps, as those who may donate to your cause like to see their gift count, and watch the actual total inch closer to the finish line. A clear, visual presentation of the goal can go a long way.
4. Choose the right platform. As there are many crowd funding platforms on the market, so too are there ways that you may present your fundraising efforts to the public. While a large fundraising event may work, sometimes a more simple email blast campaign can be just as effective, dependent on your goals. Keep your short and long term goals in mind when scoping out your project before determining how big you’ll need to go with your campaign.
5. Vie for viral. Last year, LeVar Burton launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get Reading Rainbow back into production. Leveraging the nostalgia the first generation to grow up with the show felt (and identifying his target audience), Burton and his team made smart use of different social media venues to get the word out on their project. By combining several strategies, they created a campaign that was not only easily sharable, but exciting, inspiring involvement — and donations.
6. Incentivize. One of the aspects that really sets crowd funding apart from merely asking for donations is the incentive process that goes along with the launch of a campaign. Prizes, activities or recognition are set at various dollar points, with bigger and better options given to those who donate the most. When people feel like they’re getting something in return and donating to a good cause, it’s a win-win situation, and they’re likely to give more.
7. Keep it succinct. It can be easy to go overboard when presenting a campaign to the public. After all, your nonprofit is your baby, and very likely tied to a cause you hold near and dear to your heart. While you may be tempted to wax poetic in an attempt to make others see the many virtues of your cause, it’s best to keep each campaign as to-the-point as possible. Good crowd funding efforts don’t overwhelm the reader or listener, and neither should fundraising efforts. Make your case shortly and sweetly, with clear and easy to act upon calls-to-action.


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