“Crowd Funding” is a new name and new tools applied to an old style of fundraising, which is called peer-to-peer fundraising. Crowd funding uses social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and e-mail to spread the news of your funding need. Websites like GoFundMe, KickStarter, and IndieGogo, exist to help you create a web page that tells your story and processes donations. The sites charge varying fees for helping you to do your fundraising.
The key to success with this kind of fundraising is building a ‘buzz’ around your fundraising campaign as quickly as possible and sustaining it until you reach your goal.
Here are a couple of tips to help you with your crowd funding program:
1. Have a story to tell.
Crowd funding relies on individual donors who decide to make a donation to your campaign. Emotion tends to be a more compelling motivator for this kind of giving than logic, so make sure that your story is something that will tug on the heart-strings. You are trying to stir emotions like compassion (oh, that’s terrible, let me give), excitement (wow, that’s super awesome, I want to give), or plain old affection (oh I love them, I want to help them). Don’t stretch the truth, however, because it’s dishonest and displeasing to God.
2. Spread the word.
Doing a crowd funding campaign by yourself is a path to sorrow and disappointment. The word spreads when people share your campaign with others they know. The best way is to have a team of dedicated supporters who will commit to sharing with their networks regularly throughout the campaign, and encourage others to do the same.
3. Set reasonable goals.
If you only have 200 Facebook friends, it’s unlikely that you’re going to be able to raise $200,000. You need to calculate the estimated size of your audience and realize that only a small portion (less than 5%) of those people are going to donate. If you have 300 friends and 10 people who have similar size networks, it’s reasonable to set a goal of $2-5,000. A good way to estimate is to go to the crowd funding sites and look for comparable campaigns. If you see that $5,000 campaigns like yours usually have 3-500 shares, this becomes a target for you to aim at.
4. Thank your donors.
Make sure you find a way to thank your donors creatively. Remember, this is about building a relationship. One teacher I know had his students sign a thank you to every single one of their donors. The result? They were able to raise the same amount the next school year.
5. Ask again.
I think most people see crowd funding as a one time deal, but really you can ask a donor to give again after a decent interval if you have a compelling need. Don’t be afraid to do another campaign.
Know when to upgrade your platform
If you’re going to be doing online fundraising on a very regular basis or for large amounts, it makes sense to pay for to have that ability in-house. If you’re raising $500,000, nearly $50,000 will go to the crowd funding site if you use them. It’s a worthwhile investment to put the money in for the online donation infrastructure you need. Crowd funding is a fine tool if you’re just starting out or don’t have the resources for a full-blown development effort, but you need to be prudent about when it’s time to start making use of professional level resources.
When you’ve reached this level, you’ll be setting up your own website tools that will do what the crowd funding sites do for you. This means it should create items that are easily posted and shared on social networks, can be e-mailed, and track donations to a campaign. Team fundraising like this can be very effective because your most passionate fans will help encourage others to donate.