Thank you for your interest in the “Charity Crowdfunding – A Guide to Success” beginner’s guide to making your crowdfunding campaign a success.
You are here because you want to raise money for a good cause that you are very involved in. You understand the power of crowdfunding, but you’re not sure where to start.
Crowdfunding is a way of raising small amounts of money from a large number of people and this is usually done online. Rather than relying on a contribution from a very small group of wealthy sponsors or institutions, successful crowdfunders take advantage of the power of multiple small donors.
In 2012, when Whydonate created the first European non-profit crowdfunding platform, we turned traditional fundraising on its head and unleashed the potential of everyone, anywhere, anytime to make the world a better place. Today, there are almost too many crowdfunding platforms, and the market for crowdfunding charity in developing countries is expected to reach $ 96 billion annually by 2025, according to the World Bank. That’s a lot of potential, but success requires planning.
In the past 7 years, we’ve made it possible for non-profits from all countries around the world to build schools, protect the environment, feed the hungry and do thousands of other amazing things. We are happy to share what we have learned! Each chapter provides a practical step that you can use to prepare for your first crowdfunding campaign. At the end of each chapter, you’ll find a resource you can use for a crowdfunding cause.
Table of Contents
1. Be SMART
Imagine a large group of people waking up and deciding to donate to a charity. Somehow they find a crowdfunding charity, which is closest to their heart, on the Internet. They immediately understand its objective and make another donation that same day. Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Donors need motivation to give! And you need a plan. To be successful, you must outline a SMART goal before starting your crowdfunding campaign. In your outline, you should, include the points listed in the SMART target diagram below.
|SMART Crowdfunding Charity||Whydonate Tip||Fill in Your SMART Goal|
|Specific||Describe what you want to achieve and how you will do it. Think in terms of who, what, when, where, how, and why.|
|Measurable||Attach a number to it. How do you feel about raising money?|
|Actionable||Specify what actions you will take, with whom you will work, and which networks you can reach to achieve the goal.|
|Realistic||Be ambitious, but don’t set a goal that cannot be achieved within the chosen network.|
|Timely||Create a timeline and determine a start and end date for the crowdfunding campaign. This brings urgency and motivates potential donors. Frequently remind your supporters of this deadline.|
2. Choose the Right Platform
There are hundreds of crowdfunding platforms on the Internet! It is therefore important to make the right choice for your campaign. Use our crowdfunding comparison chart to research platforms in these five key areas: structure, fees, features, reach and reputation. Each major area is explained on the next page. We’ve also gathered five key questions to ask before committing to a platform, which may incur costs or require a contract.
2.1 STRUCTURE: Who is the platform meant for?
Some crowdfunding platforms are designed to help individuals meet a personal need (for example, a parent who needs help to afford health care for her sick daughter). Others are made to help entrepreneurs launch an innovative idea (for example, a fashion designer who wants to start a new, eco-friendly clothing line). Read the platform’s mission statement and browse the existing projects to learn more about its structure.
Whydonate mainly focuses on private individuals, charities, foundations and associations who want to raise money for something good!
2.2 COSTS: What costs can you run up against?
Some platforms charge start-up fees, ongoing subscription costs and/or costs per transaction. Be wary of platforms that don’t disclose their fees in advance.
Whydonate only charges a 5% (+ transaction costs) fee, no other (hidden) costs.
2.3 FEATURES: What benefits and features do you get?
Make a list of features that are most important to you and find out if the platform offers them (e.g. personal customer service, social media integration, integration with your own website through a plugin, options for customising the campaign, donation payout process, the ability to offer different payment methods).
View the main functionalities of Whydonate here.
2.4 RANGE: Will the platform promote your project through its channels?
See how many of your acquaintances (non-profits, entrepreneurs or individuals) are using the platform and consider which donors and business partners you might be able to connect with through the platform. Have a look on social media for directions on how the platform will promote your crowdfunding charity project.
Whydonate has a donor database with over 140,000 patrons who may be interested in your crowdfunding campaign.
2.5 REPUTATION: What are people saying about the platform?
Ask existing users about their experiences and read reviews from independent and trusted sources. There are websites that compare crowdfunding platforms. You can also find a lot of information by “Googling” the platform.
3. Make it Personal
After choosing the best platform for your crowdfunding campaign, create a powerful story about your campaign that can generate donations. Most crowdfunding platforms come with a project page that you can direct donors to and tell your story. Our research shows that stories about individuals told in the first person are more powerful than statistics or stories about groups of people. As you write the content for your crowdfunding project, focus on why the project crowdfunding charity is important to you or explain the impact of achieving your goal in your life or someone else’s. Use our checklist on the next page to maximise the impact of your crowdfunding story.
3.1 POWER STORIES CHECKLIST
Include in your story:
- Your reason for getting involved with the cause, or an anecdote in the “me” form about your non-profit
- A clear question? (for example: Donate € 25 today)
- Specific examples of what can be done with a donation? (for example: a donation of € 50 gives a child enough food for a week)
- A high-quality photo
- A prominent donation link or button
4. Ask Your Friends For Help
Here’s the good news: you know the people who are likely to want to donate to your crowdfunding cause. They are your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances! Focus on how you can inspire those around you to donate to your crowdfunding charity and invite them to contact their network on your behalf. Successful crowdfunders often pair up with friends or think of different fundraising ideas to increase their exposure. Make a list of people you know to get started. Start with the people closest to you and, expand. The longer your lists, the better, so don’t overlook people like your doctor, or a neighbour. Make note of their names, phone numbers, email and postal addresses and plan to connect with each person in different ways during your crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding experts sometimes refer to this step as network mapping. Regardless of the method of your activity, don’t forget to include a clear request for a donation.
5. Be Willing to Share
Prepare to ask for donations from your target audience in various ways during your crowdfunding campaign. To determine what and where to share, you need to know your crowdfunding audience! It will be much easier to motivate your donors if you know where they spend their time and what type of content appeals to them. Do they shop at a specific store or socialise at an annual workshop or festival? Try a joint fundraising event. Also, make sure to develop a digital outreach plan. Think about when your target audience is likely to read emails and create email subject lines that will grab their attention. Also, know which social media platforms your audience is using. Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Instagram? Spend a few weeks listening to what your target audience thinks, on social media, before you map out what you want to share about your crowdfunding campaign.
6. Be Creative and Brave
Successful crowdfunders sometimes fail (they really do!), but they also have the courage to experiment with bold, creative ideas (all the time), gather feedback on what works (and what doesn’t) again, and again (if necessary) to change course. There are so many fun ways to raise funds! An Atlas Corps volunteer pledged to 100 of his friends, as his project, to ride a motorcycle, in his underwear, from Washington, D.C., to Great Falls, Va. Thousands of women around the world have raised more than € 1.5 million through the Dressember campaign to end human trafficking. The women wear a dress every day in December and ask their friends to support their efforts by making a donation. Experiment with creative ideas that will appeal to your network. Once you’ve found a crowdfunding charity concept, track your results and test new ideas. Be willing to adapt if necessary for success. Try varying email subject lines, social media content, and fundraising approaches to determine what works, and why. Use what you learn to improve your current and future crowdfunding campaigns. In short, stay active!
6.1 10 CREATIVE CROWDFUNDING IDEAS
- Organise a fundraiser at a local restaurant. Ask the owner to donate a portion of the proceeds to your crowdfunding campaign.
- Challenge yourself to an athletic performance. Ask your friends, family and colleagues to make a donation in support of your crowdfunding charity efforts.
- Organise dinner at your home. Ask each guest to make a donation to your campaign. Organise a film festival in your area.
- Show films related to your crowdfunding project. Instead of an entrance fee, ask for a donation.
- Organise a chess tournament. Ask losers (and winners) to make a donation to your campaign.
- Ask nearby businesses to donate items to your non-profit. Auction the items online or during an event and donate the proceeds to your campaign.
- Create a book club. Ask each member to make a donation for your cause.
- Create custom T-shirts, bracelets or other promotional items for your campaign. Direct all proceeds from the sales to your charity.
- Ask a prominent member of your community (the mayor, a celebrity, a church leader) to publicly support your crowdfunding charity campaign and to provide information about donating to their network on your behalf.
- Invite five of your friends to serve as “fundraising captains”. Give a prize to the captain who raises the most money for your collective cause.
View more ideas for raising money here
7. Show Gratitude
Thanking and appreciating your donors is imperative. A survey found that 45% of donors said an “excellent thank you letter” inspired them to give again. 23% said the quality of the recognition they received encouraged them to make a larger donation a second time. After you receive a donation, you should send a thank you as soon as possible. Make your thank you note as personal as possible and illustrate the impact of the donation in your life or the life of someone who wanted to help your donor.
7.1 CHECKLIST FOR SHOWING DONORS YOUR APPRECIATION
- Send an email, a handwritten note or a personal video message to thank your donor. Make it a, objective to thank every donor within 48 hours!
- Mention the generosity of your donor on social media. Tag your donor to maximise your reach.
- Invite your biggest supporters to participate for multiple donations. Ask if they can offer time-limited donations to encourage others to donate on your behalf or reach out to their networks.
Thank you for reading the seven steps to a successful Whydonate crowdfunding campaign. We hope it will be helpful to you if you start a crowdfunding campaign for a cause close to your heart. If you need individual support for your organisation’s crowdfunding campaign, please contact our customer service.