6 Nonprofit Crowdfunding Models That Get Results


Want to launch a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign but not sure what crowdfunding model is the best for your particular cause? We examined some of the most successful fundraisers on CauseVox to see what crowdfunding models work and broke it down for you.

Here are 6 nonprofit crowdfunding models that will get results.

1. Internal fundraising

Focusing just on your existing community if you are an already established organization can be a powerful nonprofit fundraising strategy. This works well if you have a tight-knit group already deeply invested in the ongoing success of your organization.

Anchor Church used this model recently and had a lot of success. The fundraiser emphasized member ownership, not the organization asking for help. It appealed to the membership sense of responsibility.

Put It Into Practice

To make this crowdfunding model work, make sure you strongly emphasize that the members aren’t doing you a favor, but are instead working for something that belongs to them. Involve them in the decision-making and planning process, and keep them updated on how the fundraiser is going. Strive for complete transparency.

2. Reach Out to Related, Existing Communities

You can also work with existing communities of people who already have a certain mindset and outreach structure. WOD for Water is a great example of this crowdfunding model.

WOD for Water is a workout event (WOD stands for workout of the day) that is part of the Neverthirst initiative to bring clean water to the world. It works with existing community gyms and utilizes their networks to organize and run fundraising events by hosting workouts in gyms. Participants ask their communities to pledge a certain amount to support them doing the workout in support of WOD for Water.

The model is effective because the organization running the event only needs to worry about the logistics, not finding the donors. It works well if your fundraising event doesn’t require a huge investment from the partner communities, and if it provides a lot of tangible value. In the case of WOD for Water, it gives them a high-visibility special event that they can galvanize their gym around and even charge an entrance fee for.

Put It Into Practice

In order to utilize this model, you want to make sure your fundraising ideas are in alignment with the community you are targeting. Keep it specific.

Another important element is to make it as easy as possible for the external communities to just plug your event into their schedule. WOD for Water handles all event setup and promotion so that the gyms have to do as little as possible, basically put up signup sheets and remind members.

3. Leverage Members’ Connections

If your organization does a lot of work in a local community and has wide appeal, you can use the connections of the people you benefit to reach out. This is similar to a public school asking the kids’ parents to chip in for extracurricular activities.

Bayshore Ministries used peer-to-peer fundraising to great effect by using the networks of their volunteers and others you participated in their programs to raise funds for their programs. Volunteers were provided with fundraising materials and they went out into their communities to ask for support.

Put It Into Practice

To make this work, it is important that you make it as easy as possible for your volunteers to do their job. Provide them with fundraising copy, specific images or articles to share on their social media, clear instructions, and whatever tools they will need. Some volunteers will prefer to create their own materials, but many will appreciate not having to do as much work.

Bayshore utilized mostly online outreach, so they made sure to provide their volunteers with a publishing calendar for their personal blogs.

4. Traditional (but Unique) Launch Events

The traditional launch event is still an effective fundraising technique. People love a party or get-together, and this is a great opportunity to provide one.

A traditional launch event is basically a showcase for your cause. You invite guests to a big unveiling, get the press involved, and do everything you can to get the word out before and during the event.

Building Blocks for Change offers a great example of this model executed to perfection. They focused on a unique venue and an interesting theme, rather than a run-of-the-mill charity ball.

Put It Into Practice

Making this model work for you relies on having great event planning skills and creating an event that people will enjoy. All the regular elements of a good party come into play: food, music, and society.

Leverage your connections and offer promotional space to see if you can get the most expensive items donated: a venue and the food. Reach out to an influencer to make sure people worth meeting are there to draw in other guests, and advertise this fact with your audience.

Focus on putting on a good party, and set aside a good chunk of the evening to showcase your cause. You will spend the majority of the night meeting people and establishing a connection with as many people as possible to build their trust and liking before the big ask.

5. The Give-A-Thon

A staple of public radio and television, the Give-A-Thon is a short-term, high intensity fundraising effort. It is used to galvanize support around a topic quickly, and is often favored because it allows an organization to minimize its fundraising, focusing on just that one event.

Fiver Children’s Foundation used this crowdfunding model to great effect when they sought to raise support after a storm devastated their camp. Focusing on a three-week sprint, they were able to raise $110,000.

This model works really well because it creates a sense of urgency: if people want to help, they need to do it now. This means that they will be more likely to make a donation when first approached since they can’t put it on the back burner.

Put It Into Practice

To use this model, preparation is key. Make sure you have everything set to go well before the event itself. Reach out to your communities and make sure they are anticipating the Give-A-Thon.

It is also important to reach as many people as possible, with a diverse range of fundraisers. Make sure the need is clear and that you are very transparent about your funding goals and methods. And don’t be afraid to make it clear that this is an urgent need.

6. Become a Point of Inspiration

The final crowdfunding model that works is to become a personal point of inspiration, a torchbearer for your cause that others can rally around and support.

Daniel Parrett used this model when he biked across from Montreal to Vancouver, about 5000km/3000mi to raise money and awareness for the Freedom Registry.

My summer camp has also used this model to inspire alumni campers to donate with their Portage to Camp fundraiser, in which a pair of counselors made their way on foot from the Twin Cities all the way to Northern Minnesota…carrying a canoe. You can see how they did it here.

This crowdfunding model lends itself very well to great storytelling: a lone hero takes on a monumental task in the name of ending some injustice, and inspires others along the way.

Put It Into Practice

To make this work, it is essential that you are upfront and authentic, because so much of the cause revolves around how people see you as an individual. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:

  1. Donors need to know where their money is going–clarity and integrity are key
  2. The campaign will gain momentum if your friends share it on social media
  3. Potential donors want to see progress–in my case, regular donations updates and stories from my ride

When you are planning your next fundraising campaign, consider using one of these tried-and-true crowdfunding models to make sure it has a powerful impact.

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