Helpful Tips for Crowdfunding, Kickstarter and Nonprofits

A smartwatch, do-it-all cooler and Veronica Mars.

These elements aren’t the central plot points to a thrilling spy mystery. Rather, they are among the most-funded projects on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter, one of the leading crowdfunding sites, is a great tool to help get the masses on board with a project your nonprofit is trying to launch. It can generate new interest in your work and tap into new fundraising sources. You could use Kickstarter to fund projects such as a documentary exposing a social cause or empowering a group through an art project. However, Kickstarter might not be for your nonprofit because its rules do not allow for projects to fundraise for a charity.

If your project doesn’t fit into the Kickstarter model, you can use several other platforms to tap into raising money from the masses. Before you begin, you need to figure out what kind of campaign you want to run. The first is an all or nothing (AoN) model, where you set a minimum goal and if you do not meet that target, no money is collected. The other model allows for you to set goals, but you will keep it all (KIA) regardless of the total received.

Here’s an overview of the three most popular crowdfunding services as well as others that focus on nonprofits:

  • Kickstarter (AoN): Funds specific creative projects and features the largest crowdfunded campaigns.
  • GoFundMe (AoN or KIA): Uses donations without incentives for personal causes or life events (medical bills, trips, community projects).
  • Indiegogo (AoN or KIA): One of the first crowdfunding sites that is useful for general campaigns and they accept PayPal, whereas most others only take credit card.
  • Community Funded (KIA): Focuses on nonprofit campaigns for specific amounts or general fundraising.
  • GlobalGiving (KIA): Many projects are internationally focused.
  • WeDidIt (KIA): Integrates crowdfunding projects into a general fundraising campaign. Offers development support.
  • WonderWe (KIA): Uses a social network to set up ongoing crowdfunding campaigns.

There are many others platforms out there, so explore the landscape before you choose which one is right for you. Generally, all of the platforms charge 5 percent of the fees collected and an additional 3-5 percent processing fee for each donation depending on the method.

Regardless of the platform you choose, you can improve your campaign’s success rate by remembering these few tips:

  • Create an Amazing Video: Videos draw people into your page and can easily be shared on social media to get the word out. Create a video to tell why this project is necessary and outline the impact it will have.
  • Tell a Story: In addition to the video, make sure you tell a compelling story on your crowdfunding page.
  • Offer Great Rewards: Set up several different levels to encourage people to give at a higher level. If you’re developing a tangible goods project, offering the funders an early version of the product helps. Be creative and offer rewards that will be in demand.
  • Build a Marketing Campaign: If no one visits your page, your crowdfunding project won’t go anywhere. Develop a campaign that gets the word out and encourages people to visit your crowdfunding page. Spread the word on social media. Send out emails and letters. Buy a few ads. Don’t leave out any area of marketing to put together a comprehensive campaign to promote the project.

While crowdfunding can seem like a great idea, it shouldn’t replace your normal fundraising activities. You can use these platforms to boost an individual project, but it should only supplement giving campaigns and donor solicitation. If you find the right site and build the right campaign, you can fund a new campaign and gain a new way to fund your nonprofit.

You could use Kickstarter to fund projects such as a documentary exposing a social cause or empowering a group through an art project. 


Lincoln Arneal

Lincoln Arneal was a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Hub who brought loads of real-world nonprofit experience to the team. He was the past executive director of a nonprofit that provided leadership development to junior high and high school students. He looked to bring the insights from his time forming, developing, and running a nonprofit to help others in their quest to do good. Lincoln also had a legal background and had written for various newspapers (covering high school sports) for the past 15 years. He could be followed on Twitter at @NPLNK.

December 16, 2015

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