Top 5 Crowdfunding Success Tips for Nonprofit Projects

I just completed my fifth successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaign. All raised funds for nonprofit causes. I used the Indiegogo platform, which also offers the Generosity platform option for nonprofit and personal campaigns. (I stick with Indiegogo because I know it and I like the extra data analytics it offers.) The campaigns ranged from $1400 to over $10,000. My top tips will apply to your campaign, whether smaller or larger.

1. Don’t Crowdfund unless you have a core crowd of your own. Most (not all) donations for most campaigns will come from your friends and families. Few nonprofit projects rise to the level of getting promoted to strangers. (Stranger donations are more common for truly innovative for-profit tech products.) Focus on people you know who will want to support your cause. Think of people you can email, tag on Facebook, reach with Twitter, or ask in person. If you don’t know many people, or are too shy to tell them about your campaign, you might want to use another fundraising strategy.

Best case scenario: The nonprofit project already has its own list and will send out emails for the campaign.

But if it is a start up with no list to start, you’ve got to be willing to contact friends.

2. Form a team of leaders. Ideally you should have at least 5-10 people lined up in advance to helping you the campaign, and a schedule so that every day, the word is getting out to potential supporters from someone they know. Email to close friends is usually more effective than Facebook, so make sure email figures in prominently.

Day 1 — All team members send an email to 20 people
Day 2 — Cindy Facebook post and tag 8 people
Day 3 — Joe Tweet to his 1000 followers
Dav 4 — Jyselle email all her family members, including her 37 cousins

3. Make your goal realistic. It looks better to have 60% of a modest goal than 1% of a goal that is too high. There is no penalty for raising more than your goals.

4. Include a video. Campaigns with videos tend to get much more support than those without. If you can’t do that, at least include some cool photos.

5. Thank your donors and enlist them in outreach. In the thank you, you can include a note like this:

Thank you, Wizard Window Washing, for your generous endorsement to the Cancer Patients Legal Defense and Advocacy Fund and getting us to 97% of our goals! We’d love your help spreading the word! Here is text you can email or post to help us get over the top:

I just donated to the Cancer Patients Legal Defense and Advocacy Fund. Please join me in supporting cancer patients fighting for affordable medicines, including my friends Zahara and Hannah.

Add your questions and tips to the comments.


About Zahara Heckscher

Writer, educator, social justice advocate. Co-author of How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas (Penguin, 2002) and forthcoming Volunteer Travel Reimagined: The Learning Service Guide. Instructor at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD and co-inventor of The Poetry Game. Mom, wife, cancer thriver, advocate for a world of justice.
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