What You Can Learn About Crowdfunding From Large Nonprofits

United Way, Salvation Army, The American Cancer Society: What do all of these nonprofits have in common? Aside from recognizable brands and worldwide reach, they all use similar techniques to raise funds and stay in the forefront of donor’s minds.

The public has a general idea about the vision and budgets of these organizations. You’ll likely see employee lists, tax forms, salaries and other pertinent resource development and expenditure information on their websites.

They rely on transparency to create trust with donors, and because of this, donors feel comfortable giving their hard-earned money to these groups.

So, there’s a good chance that you don’t have nearly the number of resources these larger nonprofits have – and that’s okay. You can still model your smaller-scale crowdsourcing campaign using the same techniques that large nonprofits use.

How can your team, big or small, achieve amazing crowdfunding results? Take a lesson from the big guys.

Announce Your Goal Like United Way

United Way is one of the largest nonprofits in the United States and worldwide, and one reason for this is because they have taken great strides over the past decade to be upfront about their goals.

Each community United Way announces their goal ahead of the annual campaign. When donors know that their contribution is part of the larger vision, and can visualize it via fundraising charts (such as the ever-popular thermometer) they feel more connected to the cause.

united way
Rusty Clark

Before you start your crowdfunding campaign, be sure to set your goal. Confirm your budgeting needs and be specific about what your crowdfunded donations will be used for. By being as specific as possible, donors will realize that they are a small part of an overarching goal.

Showcase Your Talent Like The YMCA

YMCAs around the country are known to flaunt their talent- and that’s a good thing! They frequently feature child care workers, after-school care providers and youth sports coaches on their websites and in newsletters. YMCAs do a great job of showing the public the faces behind the organization.

Donors want to know not just what they are funding, but how the end goal is going to be met. There is no better way to do this than by showcasing the strong team behind your cause.

YMCA website
Sandusky County YMCA

Profile your employees and volunteers. Highlight their strengths, talents and personalities. Your donors will likely consider a larger donation to your crowdfunded cause when they know that a capable team is handling the reins.

Share Your Story Like The American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society uses a very compelling marketing technique that connects donors to the cause through stories. As we all know, it is easy to be moved by the graphic language and raw emotion that is conveyed through a truly good story.

Storytelling for a cause can make or break your campaign. As you start your crowdfunding journey, consider which success stories will best convey the mission of your work to donors. Use these simple yet effective storytelling tips:

Communicate about who will benefit from your campaign efforts and why your work is what is necessary to create a successful outcome.
Be clear, specific and don’t embellish.
Connect with your donor. Use relatable language and leave them inspired to act.

By providing a solid story about why your cause is worthy of a donation, you are sure to connect donors to their investment.

Show Your Impact With Numbers Like Salvation Army

Go to any Salvation Army website (many communities have one), and you are bound to find an eye-catching infographic or an extensive annual report highlighting what impact the organization had on the community during the previous year.

Though it is easy to be moved by the raw emotion of stories, hard numbers and facts regarding impact are also absolutely necessary for any successful crowdfunding effort.

Salvation Army 2014 Annual Report
Salvation Army 2014 Annual Report

Whether you are providing direct service to hundreds of families or are working with 1 at-risk youth in your neighborhood, it is essential that you document the work. Donors want to know the exact impact of their donation.

Engage Your Donors Like Habitat For Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is another nonprofit that is recognizable worldwide, and it is because they actively engage their donors. Of course, Habitat functions because of financial donations, but they also ask community members to donate sweat equity. People that donate both money and time to organizations feel connected because they are an active part of the process.

Consider keeping a running list of jobs that your donors could assist you with. It could be writing thank you notes, in-kind website maintenance or organizing a collection for a specific resource your group needs.

Yes, crowdfunding generally happens online and most of your interactions with donors will be through the donation platform. But it really doesn’t have to end there. Brainstorm ways to engage your donors after their initial gift, and you are bound to form a long-term relationship.

Crowdfunding and traditional fundraising are similar in many ways. Successful nonprofits have learned how to maximize donations by sharing information about the mission, team members, goals and then further engaging the donor with the organization. So, take a tip from these large nonprofits and use these traditional techniques in your next crowdfunding campaign.

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