Chapter 1:

Getting Comfortable With Crowdfunding: Some Principals to Get You Started

There's a lot of noise out there about crowdfunding. We'll start by making things simpler.

Crowdfunding traditionally refers to the practice of funding projects by raising small amounts from a large number of people. While this covers what crowdfunding is, it doesn't really help tell why it works.  To that end, we've distilled things down into just two principles. 

Read on to see how reframing your asks and activities to be Passion Driven and Goal Oriented can engage your donors and energize your overall fundraising operations.  

Think of these two principals as the foundation that you'll need to make your crowdfunding efforts successful and sustainable.


Crowdfunding Principal 1: Passion Driven

Crowdfunding, at its core, it about giving donors the chance to give where they are most passionate. Your supporters are more likely to give, and give more, when the ask is focused on a project or program that excites them. No matter the size of the gift, the right ask will resonate with a donor on a deeply personal level and tap into their passion for your organization.

Traditionally, this has only been feasible to dedicate time to finding out individual donor passions for major donors. As we’ll see with next-level crowdfunding, it is now possible to connect with every donor’s passion. Think about your major donors.  You can probably tell me right now what they love about your organization and what part of the work they want to support when they give.  In short, for these larger donors, your organization has found a way to align your mission with their passion in a real and concrete way. Crowdfunding allows you to create these opportunities at every giving level.  

Crowdfunding lets you give a major donor experience to every donor in your organization by linking passions to gifts. 

Crowdfunding Principal 2: Goal Oriented

With crowdfunding, you can create a sense of urgency by focusing on needs that already exist (new lights for a theater stage) or creating a bounded campaign for a need within a program (by year end, raise enough money to fund one scholarship for next year). Once you have some sense of your donor preferences and your priorities for the coming year, you’ll want to make a plan to create some goals for giving to these areas. 

With good crowdfunding, you set goals and let your supporters answer the call.

This is easy if you’re funding a project but can also be simple for funneling donations toward a target program. We'll cover both of these later on as part of the Next Level Crowdfunding methodology, but by simply looking at your budget and/or your metrics, you can determine a “goal” that people will be inspired by.

For example, will you fund 100 thanksgiving meals for families? Pay for 10 students to have after school care so that their parents can work? You know what the cost of these things would be- now you can set a goal and raise funds for it.

You're almost ready to go! Some final considerations: 

You're excited to make crowdfunding principals a part of your fundraising strategy.  That's great!  Here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you implement these ideas sustainably.  

  • Don't try and do too much by making using crowdfunding to make more direct asks. Donor fatigue is real, even with an impeccably planned communications calendar. Your donors will be excited about the new opportunities that you're giving them, but their generosity is still a limited resource. Use your knew found knowledge about their passions to also say “thank you” more effectively by highlighting the specific impact of their donations.

  • Crowdfunding isn't a magic bullet.  Instead, it's a chance to provide donors with a well focused and clearly communicated opportunity to support something that they love about your organization. They might give more, they might make their usual gift, but you are also making it far more likely that they will give again if you steward their gift properly.

In the next chapter...

In the next chapter, we'll talk you through identifying, engaging, and growing your "Crowd" are the next steps in building a top-notch crowdfunding program.  Everything is easier when you've got a partners to help with the heavy lifting!  

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