Reach your major donors with… crowdfunding?

Yes, you read that right. Crowdfunding – the online platform better known for soliciting microdonations – can also provide charities with big gifts, Liz Henderson finds.Gail Perry

The US major gifts specialist, Gail Perry (pictured right), has named crowdfunding as a platform for reaching major donors.  

Talking to F&P in between masterclasses she has been running in Australia for the consultancy, Xponential, Perry said she was "surprised" at the potential to secure major gifts via crowdfunding that she has seen emerging recently in the US. 

"There's this surge of Giving Days - an emphasis on one day of giving for a nonprofit or maybe all the nonprofits in a city will get together and have a giving day," revealed Perry, whose weekly FiredUpFundraising.com blog has 21,000 subscribers worldwide. "But what has gotten my attention ... is the fact that there's very interesting potential to engage major donors."

"When they get excited about gifts ... they connect with their own major donor peers and encourage them to give. And there are five-figure gifts to the crowdfunding campaign."

Examples include Washington State University’s 36-hour #CougsGive125 event which in March raised more than $300,000 online, including about 30 gifts of $1,000 or more, and a Kickstarter campaign by the Smithsonian Institution to preserve Neil Armstrong's spacesuit.

As for how Australian charities could structure crowdfunding campaigns to attract significant gifts,  Perry said that one way to do it is through tiered asks ranging from smaller to larger gift options.

This was a strategy of Jewish Care Victoria's Cents for Senses campaign on Chuffed.org, which in August raised $21,710 offering "impact levels" from $180 to $720 along with donation amounts from $5 to $100.

"But the number one thing is to get the major donors to match everything that everyone gives," Perry explained. "So you start out ... a project with serious matching challenges, and then you have a reason to go to your major donors."

"I'm quite excited by what I've seen so far, and this is so different from the traditional major donor work," she added. 

Click here for more of Gail Perry's ideas for crowdfunding to major donors.