Revised with new information as of
December 6, 2017
A free resource for nonprofit
organizations, NGOs, civil society organizations,
public sector organizations, and other mission-based agencies
Jayne Cravens, www.coyotecommunications.com
Crowdfunding for Nonprofits, NGOs,
To Do It Successfully
Any organization can put a fundraising appeal on any social media
channel, like Facebook, or a platform specifically for crowdfunding, like
Will your organization get lots of money? No, mostly likely, it won't.
A lot of consultants will talk breathlessly about crowdfunding and bring
up some of the high-profile, successful campaigns that have been
undertaken, like xxx, implying that any nonprofit, non-governmental
organization (NGO), school or other community initiative can bring in
large amounts of money just by posting a request for money on the
Internet. I'm here to be the reality check on that.
When crowdfunding works for MOST nonprofits, schools, etc., it works for
the same reason that any fundraising effort works:
- Because the potential donors have a relationship with the organization
already, because they already know and trust the organization and feel
good about it's work, etc.
- Because the organization talks much more about what it is
accomplishing and why it is essential than continually asking for
- Because the organization has transparent, well-documented information
about its accounting and finances, particularly how donations are spent.
- Because the organization makes it easy to donate.
- Because the donor felt thanked and value for the donation they made
previous to the one being asked for.
Also, crowdfunding is a supplement to all of the other fundraising
activities a nonprofit should be undertaking. Rare is the organization
that can rely solely on crowdfunding to primarily fund its operations.
Here are four reality checks you need to keep in mind if you want to
crowdfund for your nonprofit, non-governmental organization (NGO), school
or other community initiative:
- There are not thousands of people with a big bag of money, who are
surfing the web, trying to find a stranger in need to donate it to.
- Pleas for money to "save" an organization, initiative or building may
work - but just once. If you continually have "we're going to have to
close our doors if you don't help NOW" pleas, you are going to close
- The majority of successful crowdfunding efforts - few that they are -
have raised small amounts of money from people that are already familiar
with the organization, familiar because they have been volunteers,
clients, previous donors, or are relatives of such. The more of these
kinds of friends your organization has, and the more they care about
your organization, the more money you will raise.
- You are competing with several thousand other organizations and
individuals that are trying to raise the funds, as well as all of the
people raising money from friends for a run or walk they are going to
participate in to benefit a nonprofit and individuals who are desperate
for funds to pay medical bills, stay in their homes, etc.
- Most crowdfunding efforts FAIL. Most efforts do not raise the needed
money, and as a result, all money is returned to the people that pledged
Know those points before you invest the time in a crowdfunding platform
to try to raise money.
Pick something simple that you can campaign for, and a specific amount as
your goal. In your appeal, you will note why you need the money, exactly
how much you need, and what will happen if you don’t raise the money. And
be clear that this is a ONE time appeal, that you are not going to come
back in six months and beg for more money.
The smaller the amount, the more likely you will be able to raise funds.
$500 is far more realistic than $1500. Raising money for a specific
component of a summer camp is easier than raising money for the entire
camp. And, of course, pick a certain date by which you need this
Have at least three people in mind who you know will give money to your
cause. Talk to those three or more solid supporters in person, tell each
of them what you are going to do, and ask them if, right after you launch
the campaign, they would make a donation online, on whatever platform you
choose, and to make a public comment along with the donation about why
they are making the donation. Also ask those core supporters to
immediately share that they have made a donation, along with a link to
your campaign, on all of their social media channels - and help them craft
the message they will post. It is vital that you have these core
supporters who will immediately support your effort - it does not reflect
well on your effort if, days after launching, no one has given any money.
Launch your appeal on a crowdfunding site (scroll down for options).
Choose ONE site - do not pick several.
Share the fundraising appeal via your social media accounts. Ask
volunteers to share the appeal with their friends via their social media
accounts as well, and give them guidance on messaging. You can ask staff,
but make it clear that it is optional for them to do so - many people do
not like mixing their work and personal life on social media. Also, ask
the people who donate to say, at the time of their donations, why they are
contributing to the cause, and encourage them to share with friends via
social media that they have donated.
Thank every contributor personally, directly, and as immediately as
Is there something unique or especially touching about your appeal? If
so, local TV stations MIGHT be interested in talking about your appeal on
a news cast.
Give updates. You can do this on the platform itself, and then share a
link to the appeal yet again on your social media accounts, like Facebook,
noting the update (“We’re halfway to our goal… We have 10 days left… “)
Do NOT use more than one fundraising platform for people to donate
through for your crowdfunding cause! That will NOT help you reach more
people! Pick ONE where people will donate. That said, no matter what you
pick, you should put links to your fundraiser on all social media you use,
Note: all fundraising sites take out a small portion of each donation for
administrative and other costs, which can range from 5%-20% of funds
But, with all that said - your messaging and
relationships are everything when it comes to successful fundraising.
If you haven't fully explored how you are going to do steps one through
seven, your crowdfunding efforts will fail. Successful fundraising comes
from a solid reputation, established credibility and long-cultivated
trust, not from a snappy online campaign.
Other Fundraising Resources (on my web site or blog):
- Don't Just Ask for Money!
Something much more should happen if someone clicks on your web site's
"Help Us" link than a message that asks only for money.
& NGOs: you MUST give people a way to donate online
- Basic Fund-Raising for Small NGOs in the
Developing World, a guide I developed a decade ago and regularly
update until October 2015. Requesting NGOs have been based primarily in
Africa, Asia and parts of Eastern Europe.
- Mission-Based Groups Need Use
the Web to Show Accountability
The number and tone of media stories regarding mission-based
organizations/civil society and how they spent contributions in the
wake of various disasters have done little to help such organizations
better serve people in need. Rather, by concentrating on a few bad
cases, or by misrepresenting administrative expenses as somehow
unnecessary, they have made potential supporters suspicious of all
charities, and those these organization's serve pay the ultimate
price. There has never been a better time for mission-based
organizations to use technology to show their transparency and
credibility, and to teach the media and general public about the
resources needed to address critical human and environmental needs.
- Daily, Mandatory, Minimal Tasks
for Nonprofits on Facebook & Twitter
There are a lot of nonprofits using Facebook and Twitter just to post
to press releases. And if that's how your nonprofit, NGO or government
agency is using social media, then your organization is missing out on
most of the benefits you could gain from such. Facebook, Twitter and
other social media are all about engagement. Social media is NOT
one-way communication; you want people and organizations to read your
information, but you also want them to respond to it. And they want
YOU to respond to what THEY are saying. I broke these must-do tasks
down into the most simple, basic list as possible - these tasks take
minutes, not hours, a day
Online Activities: Online Action Should Create & Support Offline
Hundreds of "friends" on an online social networking site. Thousands of
subscribers to an email newsletter. Dozens of attendees to a virtual
event. Those are impressive numbers on the surface, but if they don't
translate into more volunteers, repeat volunteers, new donors, repeat
donors, more clients, repeat clients, legislation, or public pressure,
they are just that: numbers. For online activities to translate into
something tangible, online action must create and support action. What
could this look like? This resource can help organizations plan
strategically about online activities so that they lead to something
tangible - not just numbers.
- How to handle online criticism of your
- Getting More Viewers for Your Organization's
Videos are a great way to represent your organization's work, to show
you make a difference, to promote a message or action that relates to
your mission, etc. But just uploading a video isn't enough to attract an
audience. This new page on my site offers specific steps that will get
more views for your organization's videos on YouTube. Note that many of
these tasks would be great for an online volunteer to undertake, with
guidance from an appropriate staff member.
importance of Twitter lists
awesome power of tweet tags
I won’t follow you on Twitter
(was 13) things you do to annoy me on social media
A tongue-in-cheek effort to encourage mission-based organizations to do
a better job with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social
use to organize Women’s Marches: lessons learned
Facebook was an essential tool in organizing women’s marches all over
the USA in January 2017. They may have been the largest single day of
marches in US history. This blog is a list of things I learned observing
the online organizing first hand.
dark side of the Internet for mission-based organizations
social media success? You’re probably doing it wrong.
can help you reach more people on Facebook
- How to handle online
criticism of your organization.
Potential Power for Social Good – with REAL examples.
of Maturity in Nonprofit Orgs Using Online Services.
Not-for-Profit and Public Sector Agencies REALLY Use Online
a Twitter exchange lead to change in a Kentucky nonprofit law?
use social media to invite community participation, show compassion
do international NGOs use Twitter?
nonprofit & government agencies “get” FaceBook?
criticism, misinformation & hate speech online
- Nonprofit Organizations and Online Social
Networking (OSN): Advice and Commentary.
- Basic Press Outreach for Mission-Based
Like fund-raising, press relations is an ongoing cultivation process.
Your agency strategy for press coverage needs to go beyond trying to
land one big story -- you want the press to know that you are THE agency
to contact whenever they are doing a story on a subject that relates to
your mission. These are basic, low-cost/no cost things you can do to
generate positive attention from the media.
- What are good blog topics for mission-based
The word "blog" is short for "web log", and means keeping a journal or
diary online. Blogging is NOT a new concept -- people have been doing it
long before it had a snazzy media label. The appeal of blogging for an
online audience is that it's more personal and less formal than other
information on a web site. Readers who want to connect with an
organization on a more personal level, or who are more intensely
interested in an organization than the perhaps general public as a
whole, love blogs. Blogs can come from your Executive Director, other
staff members, volunteers, and even those you serve. Content options are
many, and this list reviews some of
- For Nonprofits Considering Their Own
Podcasts: Why It's Worth Exploring, and Content Considerations
(includes my own podcast)
- How folklore, rumors and
urban myths interfere with development and aid/relief efforts and
how to prevent or address such.
- THE CLUETRAIN MANIFESTO
"We appreciate your efforts in spreading this important sedition." A
project from 1999 that is still completely relevant today (and shows why
the Internet has ALWAYS been "online social networking" and there's
nothing at all really all that new about sites like FaceBook). It's a
challenge to companies to quit thinking that they can control the
Internet and online culture and shape it to fit their outdated PR and
marketing dreams, and to quit fearing its "open" nature and, instead,
realize that this open system can actually be a good thing in the quest
to meet customer needs and move products and messages.
consulting services & my
workshops & presentations
credentials & expertise
My book: The
Last Virtual Volunteering
Community Outreach, With & Without Tech
Free Resources: Technology
Tips for Non-Techies
Free Resources: Web
Development, Maintenance, Marketing for non-Web designers
Free Resources: For
people & groups that want to volunteer
or from my web site
Coyote Helps Foundation
Jayne's Amazon Wishlist
social media (follow me, like me, put me in a circle, subscribe to
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The art work and material on this site
was created and is copyrighted 1996-2018
by Jayne Cravens, all rights reserved
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