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  • Marty Zimmerman

ZIM Crowdfunding 101

Many nonprofits think of crowdfunding as an easy strategy to gain new donors, raise money, and increase awareness of the organization’s cause. But a successful campaign is rare and takes a significant amount of time and resources to accomplish. ZIM breaks down whether you should undertake a crowdfunding campaign, what you need to know before you start, and the steps your organization should take to succeed.

What is crowdfunding?

  • Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.

  • Popular sites for nonprofit crowdfunding include Causes, Classy and Fundly. Other crowdfunding sites include Indiegogo, Kickstarter, and GoFundMe.

What you need to know before you start a campaign:

  • Most crowdfunding campaigns fail - Between 69% to 89% of projects fail to reach their targets.

  • A successful crowdfunding campaign takes 8-10 weeks to create and pre-launch followed by the campaign run time, which is often another 14-30 days.

  • Crowdfunding campaigns are like giant events that last several weeks and thus require an intensive workload and continuous management.

  • Projects must be discrete, one-time opportunities that are relevant to current social, political, or economic trends.

What you need to run a successful campaign:

  • Robust community and/or grassroots support that can translate into donors for your crowdfunding campaign

  • At least 20 ambassadors who will donate to your campaign on the first day, persuade their networks to give to your campaign, and be your team of crowdfunding press secretaries

  • A realistic goal – most people won’t give to crowdfunding campaigns unless they are nearly at their goal.

  • A team of social media managers who can generate and schedule content, post content, and interact with your digital followers to increase engagement and conversion rates.

Steps to crowdfund:

  1. Initial Strategies: Begin to increase your physical and digital engagement with current volunteers, partners, donors, board members, and other key stakeholders.

  2. Recruit Ambassadors: This will be your team that will share prepared digital and marketing content with their networks and be your team of fundraisers and promoters.

  3. Develop Your Story: Develop a visually and emotionally compelling campaign that captures why this project needs support now more than ever.

  4. Design: Create a video and marketing materials that your staff and ambassador team can use throughout the campaign.

  5. Platform: Compare and choose a platform for the campaign.

  6. Campaign Prep: Have a soft-launch event a few days before the campaign starts, get your ambassador team ready to go, ask as many people as possible to donate on the first day and follow up day-of, and prepare a physical event closure for the last day of the campaign.

  7. During the Campaign: Launch your fundraising page, sharing it on all of your digital channels, follow up with donors who haven’t given yet, share progress updates, and host the closing event.

  8. Post-campaign: Share the results, thank your donors, and engage new contacts.

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