Take Back Fundraising
The constant movement of the digital world toward social sharing has been, overall, a boon to the nonprofit sector. Online participation in fundraising is at an all-time high; nonprofits are seeing huge revenue potential in social media, support for mobile devices, and online, peer-to-peer fundraising. Successful fundraisers are looking to online social networks and connections to build up a supporter base and expand that base quickly.
Moving towards social
While interactive, social, peer-to-peer fundraising has existed in the nonprofit world for some time, lately a new method of social fundraising has emerged called “crowd-funding.”
Through websites like Kickstarter, Go Fund Me, and IndieGogo—just a few of the most popular crowd-funding platforms—anyone can now raise monetary contributions from a large number of people to fund personal projects, causes, ventures, and for-profit ideas. Reward tiers provide incentives to donors to give bigger, and slick pitch videos with high production values draw in contributors.
The emergence of crowd-funding has blurred the boundaries of the traditionally nonprofit-only term, “fundraising”. Where it typically meant charitable giving, now the term has been hijacked to mean any crowd-funded venture, whether for-profit or nonprofit. It’s now tougher than ever for nonprofits to distinguish themselves from the clamor of voices asking potential donors for their charitable dollars, when some of those dollars aren’t even charitable!
Crowd-funding isn’t going away anytime soon; in fact, it’s growing exponentially. According to the 2015 CF Industry Report, money spent on crowd-funding projects could exceed $100 billion annually by 2017.
There’s a societal shift in thinking occurring about what fundraising means, and now, nonprofits have to work harder than ever to grab and hold donors’ limited attention.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! This boom in cash flow into crowd-funding is a good portend for nonprofits who are able to harness the immense momentum of social fundraising. Donors are more willing to give than ever, and digital tools are making it possible.
Now, it’s up to nonprofits to reclaim ownership of the word “fundraising,” and redefine it for themselves.
Get on the bandwagon.
Crowd-funding sites dedicated to nonprofit use do exist, but you’re also not limited to using a nonprofit-only site. The big crowd-funding sites, like Kickstarter, will take your campaign.
But remember they may not be the best vessel for attracting your specific charitable audience. You’ll still need to create a pitch video and offer reward tiers, which takes time and money. If you’re a traditional nonprofit, you may be better off focusing your efforts elsewhere. Your strength lies in the supporter base you’ve already built, which most crowd-funded projects don’t have.
Embracing social fundraising in peer-to-peer tools.
There are other social methods of fundraising besides crowd-funding, including peer-to-peer fundraising, which nonprofits have been successfully using for years.
In peer-to-peer fundraising, instead of reaching out directly to supporters via a pitch video, your current supporters enlist their friends and family to help raise funds. This is a great, easy, out-of-the-box solution for established nonprofits who already have a supporter base to draw from. There are many fantastic and affordable peer-to-peer fundraising tools to use like Greater Giving Join Me and others.
Don’t be daunted.
A lot of big crowd-funding projects, being the first of their kind, have received huge media attention and drawn millions in funding. Don’t let that be your expectation—but don’t be daunted by the success of other big campaigns, either.
Before you launch a campaign, do some market research, and make sure you’ve chosen the right crowd-funding site for your nonprofit’s mission and audience.
Stick to your guns.
At the end of the day, you’re still a registered charitable organization, while most of the projects and ventures on crowd-funding sites are not. Remember what you offer donors—tax deductible contributions, and dedication to your ongoing mission. Most projects being crowd-funded are one-offs. Establish how that fits into your organization’s overall goals and consider it only one tool in your fundraiser’s toolbox.