In June of this year, research company Massolution reported that crowdfunding campaigns had already raised $5.1 billion in 2014; however, these crowdfunding projects were mostly businesses looking for startup capital and likely weren’t starting at zero, meaning organizers could offer substantial perks as incentive for contributors. And it worked.
But what happens when you need funding for a non-profit? How can your campaign achieve the same level of success when funds are already limited?
Regardless if you’re trying to raise a few hundred or several thousand dollars, crowdfunding your way to success can be done with the right platform and (affordable) donor perks. Here are a few success stories to consider before launching your own campaign.
Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
In 2009, actor Edward Norton along with friends Shauna Robertson and Robert and Jeffro Wolfe sought to raise money for Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust during the New York City Marathon. They raised $1.2 million in less than eight weeks, the bulk of which came from repeat, small contributors and landed buzz as one of the top fundraising successes of the marathon. Today the group helps others raise money for everything from employee relief funds to supporters for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
Edward Norton’s project didn’t really focus on perks, but rather emphasized the sense of pride and humanism that comes with donating to important causes and encouraged contributors to get involved in the cause or charity beyond donating. But there is a less obvious perk for backers. Contributions on many platforms are 100% tax deductible; all backers received an email receipt to comply with IRS requirements.
Good Eye Video
Some platforms don’t allow for charity fundraising, but non-profits can launch a campaign to help fund projects. Good Eye Video crushed its $10,000 goal to travel to Kenya and create videos for non-profits. As an incentive for donors, organizers offered different perks like a DVD compilation of all the videos recorded on location in Kenya. Meanwhile, backers who donated $500 or more received an executive producer credit on the films along with photo keepsakes. One fun perk included having the contributors’ names included in a song on the Mbaka Oromo Choir CD.
The Bicycle Academy
The Bicycle Academy turned to crowdfunding to help people learn to design and make their own bikes. Pledgers received perks like T-shirts and mini bicycle frames. Their efforts paid off. The Bicycle Academy raised £41,690 (approximately $67,835) to get their business rolling. Although the Bicycle Academy is a for-profit with a social conscience and giving at its core, non-profits and charities also see success on crowdfunding platforms. The charity Maisha raised £1,000 (approximately $1,627) to raise money for an innovative art project in Nairobi’s slums. Backers received limited edition prints of paintings from featured artists, T-shirts with a photo by Kibera photographers.
Offer Creative Rewards
There are dozens of crowdfunding platforms to launch a campaign, but the real key is coming up with creative rewards and perks to entice contributors. If you’re raising money for a theater, give a behind-the-scenes tour and meet-and-greet with an actor in a current show. Think about small items to get the bids rolling like flowers or gift baskets or even digital photo frame featuring your non-profit or charity.
Remember contributors like to be recognized, so offer to spread their good deed. Put their names on your brochures and plaques and include them on your website. Interview them for an upcoming newsletter or host them at an upcoming gala and give them a plaque or award for their outstanding contribution.
Learn more about online fundraising for nonprofits with FundRazr