Crowdfunding as a Serious Fundraising Strategy? Yes!

Can you really raise big money via social media?

Social media for fundraising? We … shall … see.

Social media for fundraising? Let’s take a look!

I used to roll my eyes when people talked about social media channels as fundraising tools.

But I think I’ve seen the light!

CROWDFUNDING has my serious attention now, and I think it has substantial potential for nonprofits.

From what I have seen, you can raise serious money from current — and new donors, even— plus build awareness like never before.

But what is really getting my attention is crowdfunding’s potential for MAJOR GIFTS.

We are seeing crowdfunding initiatives that are identifying, engaging and securing large gifts from new major gift prospects.

Now this is pretty interesting!

How can something like this happen?

It’s when a major donor gets behind a crowdfunding campaign, offers a challenge gift, and asks with his or her own network to support the cause.

Will it cannibalize your regular major gifts program?

No — fear not!

Crowdfunding expert Justin Ware, vice president for digital fundraising at ScaleFunder, assured me:

“Asking for a major donor’s participation in an online celebration … can be part of the solicitation process if your development operation has a truly comprehensive digital strategy.”

Check out these interesting factoids:

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And it’s not just theory.

In March, Washington State University’s 36-hour #CougsGive125 event raised more than $300,000 — ALL ONLINE, including about 30 gifts of $1,000 or more.

The Smithsonian’s Kickstarter campaign to save Neil Armstrong’s space suit raised almost $720,000 in 30 days. That sure got my attention!

Get Ready for #GivingTuesday!

Here are some of Justin’s tips for incorporating crowdfunding and Giving Days into your major gift fundraising strategy:

1. Educate your staff.

Your major gifts officers MUST understand the concept of giving days and crowdfunding.

And what your goals are.

Make sure they can answer basic questions about the process – because they will be asked.

2. Get your staff online.

Major gifts officers NEED to be social media savvy and engaging your best donors online throughout the year.

Get your biggest donors used to communicating with you online.

If wealthy donors are online, then this is a fantastic tool to help you build conversations — and relationships — with them.

3. Let major donors know what you’re up to.

Alert them well in advance that a crowdfunding effort is coming up.

Let them know how they can help.  Ask them to participate.

They really do want to know what’s going on and how they can be part of a big online celebration!

4. Push challenge gifts.

Find opportunities that connect with your major gift donors’ goals and ask them for challenges or matches.

Be clear on that connection when you talk to them.

Engage those big-ticket donors right away during a crowdfunding campaign.

Engage those big-ticket donors right away during a crowdfunding campaign.

Let them know you’ll use their money to raise MORE money for the projects that are near and dear to them.

5. Follow up!

Who knows what might come through the door during a crowdfunding campaign?

You just might get a slew of $1k plus gifts — and even more.

And then you have opened the door for these big-ticket givers to go into your major donor pipeline.

Justin shared that the WSU campaign set up a “large gift protocol” that alerted major gift officers so they could follow up immediately to the big online gifts.

 BOTTOM LINE

Crowdfunding can identify and engage new major donors — and bring in amazing amounts of money.

There’s tons of potential here, if you are organized and savvy.

What do you think?

Have you tried any crowdfunding campaigns?

Let me know what you’re doing and how it’s working for you — leave a comment: