8 top tips for crowdfunding success

Learn about utilising the power of social media to generate impact for your nonprofit organisation with Beth Kanter’s eight best practice crowdfunding ideas.

 

crowdfunding successCrowdfunding marries tried-and-true fundraising techniques with the power of social media. More than just the transactional act of donating, it incorporates asking for the help of influential stakeholders to create online social fundraisers and activists.

Following are some tips for making your crowdfunding campaign a success.

1 Identify the audiences you want to reach and know what motivates their giving

Most nonprofits have diverse audiences that hold the keys to their success. Make a list of all your constituencies and outline the benefits that a great relationship with each group would bring.

This is a good time to experiment with new demographic groups like younger donors but be sure to prioritise your target audiences. Think about who is part of your inner circle who you could recruit as your champions.

2 Identify results, metrics and mini goals

What do you want to accomplish with your campaign? Crowdfunding is particularly useful to raise money for a specific project. The more specific, the better. Also, it works best when it’s time based and you can create a sense of urgency. And it works well with matching incentives, so your goal could be to leverage a larger donation from an existing donor.

Chances are, your goal is a lot more complicated than simply a dollar sign. If you are new to crowdfunding this might be a great opportunity for just learning what works. If you’re on your third or fourth campaign you might be looking to increase awareness, engagement or donations from a specific donor segment.

3 Socialise your content with compelling stories that inspire people to donate

Successful crowdfunding depends on great storytelling. What’s the story you’re telling about how you’ll use the money raised to reach your outcomes?

How do you talk about your organisation’s work, place it in a broader context and inspire people to contribute? Find inspiration by reading The Six Stories of Social Change Fundraising at startsomegood.tumblr.com – it’s an article that organises crowdfunding stories into different types.

It’s wise to get everything organised and scheduled, and to distribute stories through various channels. Content doesn’t have to be created from scratch every time – tweak and optimise as needed.

Some ideas for making use of your social media channels include simple videos by your staff or someone who will be positively impacted by the campaign; a Twitter chat or Google Hangout with key stakeholders talking about the program the campaign will fund; and ongoing, coordinated posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email or other channels about people being helped by your project over the course of the campaign.

4 Offer many ways to engage

Consider a continuum of engagement activities, going from passive observer to active donor to champion for your cause. Social media has disrupted the traditional linear model and created a supporter journey that looks like a spiral or vortex. Engagement opportunities can include people sharing stories or photos illustrating their connection to the campaign theme, engaging in online discussions, sharing on social media, signing a petition and, of course, donating.

5 Activate a group of champions to share the buzz

Having champion board members, volunteers, staff or others to help you fundraise is critical. Remember to model enthusiasm yourself – and make
it contagious.

External champions are a new breed of donor who care so much about your campaign that they’re willing to spread the word to their friends and ask them to donate, especially through online networks. But they don’t just magically appear. There’s a process of cultivation, and you must support their work with ongoing communications and campaign materials they can easily share.

6 Leverage the power of social proofing

Social proofing is where people see others sharing information about the campaign or donating; think of it as positive peer pressure. Try acknowledging donations in a public and unique way, allowing people in your network to see that others are donating. This creates ‘social proofing’ and other donations will follow. Line up some donors in advance so you don’t open your campaign with ‘$0’ raised towards your goal.

7 Say thank you in creative ways

Look beyond the generic thank you email from the platform. Social media is great for this sort of thing, especially if you can say thank you shortly after donors make the gift. It’s also important to say thanks after the campaign ends as part of a wrap-up with photos and videos. Remember, too, that thank you is not the end, but the beginning of retaining these donors, many of whom may be new to your organisation.

8 Document what you learned for your next campaign

Capture what happened as the campaign unfolded and hold a formal debrief with your team to gain insights to improve results for your next campaign. Capture the lesson learned (big or small) and put it on a social site like a Google document so all members of your team can access and add to it. Then review it together in a meeting to summarise it into a series of ‘Do’, ‘Improve’ (say how) and ‘Don’t do’ items.


Kanter will present a masterclass on grant seeking and a workshop on healthy organisations at IFC Asia on 26 to 28 June in Bangkok, Thailand. Visit resource-alliance.org/asia to register.

Beth Kanter

Beth is a US-based, internationally recognised thought leader in networks, social media, data and nonprofit leadership. She is an author who has worked for over 30 years in the nonprofit sector in technology, training, capacity building, evaluation, fundraising and marketing.