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Successful Crowdfunding for Nonprofits: Tips to Help

By on Thursday, August 21, 2014

An article in the Dallas Morning News examines how nonprofits are using crowdfunding to raise needed funds for new projects. The author describes how one nonprofit hoped to raise $50,000 but actually brought in $140,000 for a new restaurant to provide culinary training to young men coming out of juvenile detention.

Crowdfunding is a way to raise funds for a specific cause or project by asking a large number of people to donate money, usually in small amounts, and usually during a relatively short period of time, such as a few months. Crowdfunding has existed for longer in the tech and startup communities, and been used by struggling artists to raise funds for projects or films, but nonprofits are getting involved too.

So how can you be successful with crowdfunding? Here are a few tips:

Be realistic. Too many nonprofit staff think they won’t have to “work” to earn money online. The same rules apply – people have to understand your organization and how their support might make a difference before they open their wallets to donate and ask their friends to help.

Focus on setting up a strong campaign that will appeal to potential donors. Build a great web page for your campaign on a website for crowdfunding. Use great images, video, numbers, etc. Explain the need for the project and how donated funds will help meet the need. Use storytelling techniques and narrative to build the case.

Seed the campaign in advance. Find donors in the community who will contribute when the project opens and supporters who will help publicize the project. Notify the media in advance.

Publicize your crowdfunding campaign. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and others can be used to promote your project. Don’t forget to use an old-fashioned email blast too if you can. Reach out to the news media and tell them about the campaign.

Share the success and build momentum.  Publicly thank donors. Share when the project reaches key milestones through social media.

Resources

Five Best Practices in Nonprofit Crowdfunding (pay attention to the advice on reconsidering freebies and tiered donor levels)

Nonprofit Storytelling for Crowdfunding and Online Fundraising

11 Innovative Crowdfunding Platforms for Social Good

Top Ten Crowdfunding Sites

Thanks to Rocio Lara for the image. Licensed under Creative Commons.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, a virtual and independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media advice, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media, public relations and other issues. She also reviews books on her blog about public relations, nonprofit life, work-family balance and social media practice. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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