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  • Marty Zimmerman

ZIM Crowdfunding 101

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

Crowdfunding graphic with money bags and lightbulb

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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