In the midst of a global pandemic, it’s easy to get discouraged. Most of the world is stuck at home, and organizations are struggling to engage prospects and secure sufficient funding while keeping a safe social distance. Many donors are facing major economic hardship due to staff furloughs and for many nonprofits, the future is wildly uncertain.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that nonprofits have to get creative if they want to keep serving their communities and successfully come out of the other side of this pandemic. After all, what sets successful nonprofit professionals apart is their determination in the face of adversity.
Crowdfunding is one of the most popular ways to reach today’s donors, and for good reason! These campaigns allow prospects to continue giving to your cause from the comfort of their own homes without putting their health at risk. Crowdfunding offers organizations like yours refuge in economically uncertain times, but only if you take the vital steps to set your campaign up for success.
As you ramp up planning for your next crowdfunding campaign, take every step possible to make the most of your fundraiser. Incorporate these four tools to take your efforts to the next level:
- An Effective Platform
- Photos and Videos
- Social Media
- Matching Gift Tools
It’s natural to feel hesitant about launching a fundraiser during the pandemic. After all, you don’t want to seem insensitive to supporters who may be facing tough financial circumstances right now. But crowdfunding can offer much-needed economic stability in challenging times. Many prospects are willing to step up to the plate; you just have to ask.
Let’s dive into the top four tools that will help your crowdfunding campaign reach (and hopefully succeed!) its fundraising goals.
Crowdfunding Tool #1: An Effective Platform
A vital first step to any crowdfunding campaign is to select a platform. Otherwise, you won’t be able to share your story, promote the fundraiser, and collect supporters’ generous donations.
Not all fundraising platforms are created equal. If you want to maximize your revenue, you need to take the time to locate a crowdfunding website that suits your organization’s needs and is backed by sufficient tools. As you explore your options, encourage your team to keep an eye peeled for these core features:
- Customization and visual appeal. Ensure your platform enables you to add your personal story and customize the visual appearance of your crowdfunding page. You should be able to incorporate your nonprofit’s color scheme, logo, and other familiar branding elements in order to make your campaign appear trustworthy to donors.
- Mobile accessibility. Setting your campaign up for success means making it available to as many prospects as possible. With an ever-growing dependence on mobile technology, this means ensuring that your campaign is available on mobile devices. That way, anyone can absorb your story and donate when motivation strikes — no matter if they’re using a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
- Secure payment processing. Ensure your platform comes equipped with safe payment processing tools. Otherwise, you risk deterring donors if the platform appears untrustworthy. You should be able to access your account and immediately accept donations. Be wary of how long the processing period is as well. Ideally, you should be able to withdraw donations within a week.
While there are plenty of features that can increase success, these three serve as a fantastic foundation for kickstarting your search. Once you’re equipped with a sufficient platform, you’ll be able to move forward with planning and executing your campaign.
Crowdfunding Tool #2: Photos and Videos
Multimedia has the power to supercharge your crowdfunding campaigns by helping prospects connect to your cause. In fact, research has found that campaigns with personal videos raise 105% more than those without them. This is because it adds a relatable face to your cause and keeps users on your campaign page for longer, ultimately leading them to donate.
Effective videos and images get prospects invested in your campaign because they can physically see what they’re financing, rather than just reading about their potential impact.
When creating your promotional materials, develop high-quality images and videos that resonate with prospects by keeping these two tips in mind:
- Tell a story. Images and videos put your organization in a unique position to tell its story beyond what words can. Visual storytelling has the power to connect with prospects on an emotional level and motivate them to donate, so put a face to your campaign by sharing videos and pictures from your staff, board members, volunteers, and those impacted by your work.
- Get the video length right. Go for short and impactful. As a general rule of thumb, keep your videos around 2.5 to 3 minutes. With short attention spans and plenty of other information to distract users, people tend to lose attentiveness and click away, so this provides enough time to get your message across without losing their interest.
Fundly’s guide to crowdfunding explains that a crowdfunding campaign can’t survive on just words alone. You should create a schedule and post an image or video to social media and other marketing outlets either once a week or every few days.
Making consistent, repeated asks in a multimedia manner helps to bring your cause to life, which can push prospects who are on the fence toward donating to your cause. Take sufficient time selecting emotionally-charged photos and creating impactful videos that accurately depict your cause. In the end, this extra effort will show in your campaign results.
Crowdfunding Tool #3: Social Media
Social media’s impact on the nonprofit community is undeniable, and crowdfunding is a prime example of its potential. In fact, the majority of crowdfunding donations tend to come from social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, so you’ll need to take the time to develop a comprehensive social media strategy in order to connect with your younger generation of supporters.
As described in Crowd101’s guide to crowdfunding, you can harness the power of social media by incorporating the following tips:
- Embed your campaign directly onto your social media posts. The more convenient it is to donate, the more donations your campaign will receive. Embedding your campaign simplifies the donation process for anyone who stumbles across your profiles, so ensure your platform offers integrations like this.
- Update multiple social media pages. Sharing your campaign across multiple platforms increases its visibility. While it’s time-consuming to send social media blasts manually, some platforms empower you to automatically update every platform at once or schedule posts for the future.
What’s more, you should encourage followers to share your campaign online, even if they’re unable to donate themselves. Social shares ultimately expand your crowdfunding campaign’s visibility by getting it in front of more prospects. Plus, this allows those who are unable to give to contribute to your campaign and feel like they’re making a difference.
Overall, you’ll want to develop your social media strategy and solidify a schedule before launching your campaign so you know exactly what needs to be posted and when. In turn, you’ll maximize your social impressions and donations.
Crowdfunding Tool #4: Matching Gift Tools
For nonprofits, matching gifts represent an incredible source of untapped potential. In fact, matching gift research indicates that 84% of donors are more likely to donate if their employer offers one of these programs. Plus, 1 in 3 surveyed donors indicates a propensity to make a larger gift if matching will be applied.
In other words, these programs have the power to substantially boost your fundraising efforts, so long as you take the time to effectively promote them.
That being said, it’s a smart move to incorporate matching gifts into your campaign materials. First, iterate the availability of these programs, spelling out what they are and how they work. Then, take it a step further by telling them how to research their eligibility. Your best bet is to share access to a matching gift database where they can easily type in their employers’ names and be greeted with all available information regarding their program (e.g. eligibility requirements, forms, etc.).
Be sure to share this information in your announcement posts and your follow-up messaging to make as many people aware as possible. When donors have the potential to multiply their contributions without reaching back into their pockets, they’re very likely to do so. By making donors aware of these opportunities, you’ll increase the chance that you’ll get this bonus funding from your supporters (and maybe some initial donations that you wouldn’t otherwise receive).
So long as you devote sufficient time and effort, crowdfunding campaigns have the potential to substantially increase your funds and maximize your reach online. Not only do these campaigns enable you to engage your community in times of crisis, but they’re also highly effective for reaching larger audiences under normal circumstances.
In any case, make sure you start with an effective crowdfunding platform that prioritizes the donor experience and makes it easy to fully customize your campaign. Then, expand your efforts to adhere to best practices, such as incorporating multimedia, sharing your campaign on social media, and promoting matching gifts. In turn, you’ll create a highly-impactful campaign that stands out to supporters and garners donations. Good luck!
About the Author: Lomesh Shah
As CEO of Fundly, Lomesh spends much of his time immersed in the nonprofit industry both as an industry leader, speaker, and in service to several organizations as a board member and volunteer. Outside of the industry, Lomesh is a technology junkie and will give anyone willing to listen an assessment of the latest trends in anything from espresso makers and mobile gadgets to electric cars and wind power.