Josh Schukman is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub. He’s the writing whiz for WonderWe—a crowdfunding social network that provides free viral tools for nonprofits to fundraise, recruit and measure impact like a pro. When not crafting beautiful musings for WonderWe, Josh can be found cooking up the latest Paleo dish (his fiancee’s fault), cycling all over God’s creation and/or endeavoring to understand the mysterious ways of the universe.

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Crowdfunding is all the rage these days. From newfangled technologies to heartwarming causes, it seems like everyone who’s raising money for anything is talking about crowdfunding. But for the nonprofit sector, this new way to get to people and funds can seem overwhelming—especially if your organization has been around for awhile and developed a strong cohort of traditional donors.

Nonetheless, there is little doubt that donor dollars are moving toward crowdfunding. Millennials are one group gravitating toward donating via crowdfunding. That’s why any modern development plan should include a plan for crowdfunded donations.

Today, let’s spend some time to learn the basics of nonprofit crowdfunding.

What Is Crowdfunding?

It’s the process of raising money for a project or venture from a large number of people. This is typically done online and is based around a defined timeline. For example, you want to raise money to build a school in 6 months, so you create a crowdfunding campaign aimed at raising a certain dollar amount within that time.

For us in nonprofits, crowdfunding can often be a great fit for a one-time project based around a timeline. Some organizations have had success raising operating funds, but generally, you need the story of a particular project to drive people to give.

Why Crowdfund?

Because more and more donor dollars are showing up there every day. If you don’t get the hang of this, you’ll risk losing out. Crowdfunding is great for highlighting a one-time project or need at your organization. It also serves the dual purpose of raising money AND awareness. These examples from the best nonprofit social media campaigns of 2013 are great templates for how you could tell your story in a campaign.

This is New to Me, I’m Scared!

Don’t be. Yes, it’s a new trend in giving, but once you go down this road, you’ll find that it’s very similar to donor drives you’re used to: make people part of something larger than themselves, tell a great story and make the ask.

Okay, You’ve Sold Me. But Where Do I Begin?

First, you need to choose a crowdfunding platform that best fits your campaign. There are a lot of them out there and you don’t necessarily want to go with one just because it has tons of people. Make sure to do your research to find the best platform for your organization. Different crowdfunding sites to check out include GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Kickstarter and WonderWe, among others.

You’ll need to sit down with your team and get very clear about how much you want to raise, who you’ll invite into the campaign and how you want to reach them.

Next week, we’ll take this understanding of nonprofit crowdfunding and check out some awesome resources that will help you build your first campaign. For today, join the conversation by telling us in the comment section how you’ve tried crowdfunding at your organization, if at all.