RaeAnn Knoell is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub and the Communications Specialist for Red Basket, a free crowdfunding website for personal emergencies and community improvement projects. She brings more than 11 years of experience as a marketing and communications professional and a passion for helping fundraisers succeed.
Choosing the perfect crowdfunding platform is a lot like buying a new car. Do you want to go with the one that has a long history and a great reputation or the newest, most hip trend? What kind of warranty and customer support will you receive once you’ve signed on the dotted line? How many fees will be involved in the transaction? There are so many decisions; not to worry because we’ve got answers.
Before you begin your crowdfunding journey, here are seven questions to ask yourself to help you choose the perfect platform for your needs.
1. What is the platform’s history?
With new crowdfunding websites popping up every day, you’ll want to research how long the crowdfunding website has been in operation, how many fundraising campaigns they’ve published, and most importantly, how many complaints of fraud they’ve encountered. A good way to learn more about the reputation of a crowdfunding platform is to review their annual report. You can also look for their rating with the Better Business Bureau or Guidestar if the platform is a nonprofit.
2. How will you collect information on your donors?
One of the perks of using crowdfunding as a new way for your nonprofit to fundraise is that you’ll have the opportunity to attract new donors. It’s critical that you know what information about your crowdfunding donors will be collected and if you’ll have access to it. Cultivating these new donors is key to your long-term success, so you need to make sure you’ll have a way to reach them during and after your crowdfunding campaign.
3. What fees will you pay?
There are many different fee structures that crowdfunding sites use. Some charge a flat platform fee, some take a percentage of donations, and some charge a fee per transaction. Credit card processing fees are usually charged, as well. Research the fees involved with the crowdfunding platform and read their terms and conditions.
4. Is the platform flexible?
While the crowdfunding platform doesn’t need to be certified in yoga, it does need to be flexible enough to allow for your fundraising needs. For example, you’ll want to research to find out if the platform sets restrictions on how long you can post your campaign or how high you can set your fundraising goal. If your nonprofit serves international causes, make certain that there aren’t any restrictions regarding geography and that the platform can accept international donations.
5. Will you be able to tell your story with videos?
Crowdfunding platform Indiegogo recently compiled statistics from 100,000 crowdfunding campaigns. They found that campaigns with a pitch video raise four times more funds than campaigns without one. That’s pretty compelling evidence that you’ll want to use a crowdfunding platform that allows you to not only post a feature video but also post videos through campaign updates.
6. How will the platform help you spread the word about your campaign?
Think about how you want to spread the word about your crowdfunding campaign and be certain that the platform you choose makes it easy for you. If you have a strong Facebook or Twitter following, be certain that the platform integrates social media sharing tools not only for you to easily share your campaign but also for your supporters to share your campaign. If you prefer to spread the word via email, be certain that the platform is going to easily allow you to do so.
7. What fundraising support will the platform offer?
While you are most likely experienced in fundraising for your nonprofit, this may be one of your first experiences with crowdfunding. You’ll want to research how the platform is going to assist you throughout your campaign. Will you work directly with an account manager dedicated to your campaign? Will you receive any fundraising coaching during your campaign? Will the platform help you get media coverage for your campaign? Make sure you have the answers to these questions.