Online fundraising is an increasingly competitive business, and many charities and nonprofits can find themselves squeezed out in the search for support. This is especially true in the event of capital campaigns, where the model is to approach donors with big pockets in the hopes that they can make a significant dent in the campaign goal.
As many nonprofits are learning, these big ticket donors are pitched far more often than they can contribute and simply cannot participate in every capital campaign that comes their way. As a result, the fundraising industry is scrambling to find a model that can help them stay afloat amidst an ever changing economic climate.
But all hope is not lost. For those that have the capacity and flexibility to evolve, the crowdfunding model offers a fresh and distinctive way of running a capital campaign: it gives you full control over the goals and scope of the project, as well as putting you directly in contact with the people you’re appealing to.
This approach isn’t a huge departure from the way charities already operate online capital campaigns, trusting in the goodwill and enthusiasm of their supporters to raise funds. The only difference is that of audience – instead of seeking large donations from a small number of donors, the focus is on generating small donations from a massive number of donors.
For decades now, businesses have successfully employed a similar strategy, also known as cause marketing, in an effort to improve their brand position while simultaneously generating funds for worthy causes. Case in point, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry movement, earned almost $6 million to end childhood hunger in the United States last year, and was run in partnership with commercial restaurants and companies.
This is a testament to the power of cause marketing through the crowd, and may be the way forward for charities and nonprofits seeking to replace traditional capital campaigns with new methodologies.
Crowdfunding provides a direct route to your supporters without the requirement for corporate middlemen and corporate budgets. And thanks to plugins like IgnitionDeck, you can bypass traditional crowdfunding portals entirely, keeping an even bigger chunk of the pie in the process.
The benefits of running a bespoke, self-hosted crowdfunding campaign from your own website are many. Not only can you customize the campaign in its entirety, but you can also recruit from an audience that is already visiting your site. This makes even more sense when the capital campaign is only one component of your integrated marketing campaign.
Being able to customize the experience is essential if you wish to stand out amongst the crowd. By creating a personalized, unique appeal — like The Public Domain Review recently did — you can distance your campaign from the competitive set both visually and strategically.
Compare this approach to being just one of dozens of listings on a platform like Indiegogo or GoFundMe, where you are a little fish in a big pond, and you can start to see the benefits. What’s more, once you get people to your site, there’s the opportunity to encourage them to read more about your organization and its aims, perhaps enticing them to learn more via your newsletter or action alerts.
When you manage the crowdfunding campaign yourself, the options are limitless. You could consider offering a one-off gift or some limited edition merchandise in exchange for a higher donation, you could run a list of donors on your website or on a future product (like a special edition book), or you could give supporters a chance to get involved in the practical aspects of the project so they can see how their money is being used.
When you have control over your own crowdfunding campaign, you can tailor it to meet your needs, and that extends to modifying project goals and running repeat campaigns as well.
Experienced campaigners will be familiar with offering rewards and benefits in return for donations, and this idea fits the crowdfunding model perfectly. Donors can see exactly how their money is going to be used, and get updates along the way, two factors that may well tempt them into supporting the cause. Consider a self-hosted crowdfunding campaign, and you might be surprised at where it can take you.