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  • Zeb Carlson

Crowdfunding Your Fundraising

The once-emerging trend has advanced into adolescence: GoFundMe launched GoFundMe Charity.

Crowdfunding isn't a new concept: Think about the holiday bellringers for the Salvation Army, for example. We all pitch in what we can to help improve our communities.

What makes online crowdfunding unique is the scale: As of 2017, GoFundMe has raised five billion dollars for everything from a startup seeking funds to launch a new product to individuals asking for financial support to cover medical bills. GoFundMe's goal of this recent launch — an evolution of the acquisition of CrowdRise a while back — is all about bringing for-profit skill to the nonprofit space, helping reach new audiences and raise money more efficiently. Heck, they are even including a way to put a donate button on your website, which for many organizations has been a challenge to accomplish. Very cool.

So, what can we learn from crowdsourcing to help us evolve your approach to fundraising?

We live in the age of connectivity. Whether it's a photo shared on social or rating bubble bath on Amazon, we are incentivized to share our experiences. When it comes to fundraising, it's about the pride that comes from boosting the common goal of a community. The organization's role is to do whatever we can to make the distance from the hand in need to the heart of those that want to help.

Don't be afraid to ask. Many organizations frequently comment that they are concerned they are too pushy. Listen, I get it: Asking for money isn't easy.

There are trusted resources that go as far as saying we are asking people too much: Bank of America found that 41% of donors who stopped giving because of too frequent solicitations. Yet I believe there is a pretty simple answer to asking for money: Find the right time to ask and ask in the right way.

Think about it: If you aren't looking to purchase a home and you keep getting flyers on your door from a realtor, it's annoying AF. Over and over again, you feel pushed into something that doesn't align with your motivations. It's similar when asking for donations.

Instead of bombarding folks with big-time asks, create a donor experience that is right-sized for your organization AND donors. You can make asking for money feel organic while helping your donors feel empowered by offering their financial support.

When you approach your content, focus on what the purpose is and what is the ask. I love when platforms such as GoFundMe encourage people to be razor-sharp with their goals. How much $$$$ they need, and what they are using the funding for. Yasssssss.

It feels transparent, doesn't it? We have big-picture context, and it's pretty easy to understand! What if your organization asked for something specific instead of "the greater good" or "prosperity for all"?

Keep it simple. You know, it's funny: The name of GoFundMeCharity uses a word that philanthropy often frowns upon.


When analyzing organic search, meaning what terms people search for on Google and Bing, it's common to find that the second or third most search volume is related to the word "charity", not "donate to support organizational mission that aligns with my personal beliefs."

I'm a bit sarcastic here, obvi, but it is a topic that deserves your attention. In the simplest terms, people oftentimes give money to charity, not invest in the future of a prosperous community. When you find ways to keep it simple, your donors can see themselves as a part of the solution. They are willing to volunteer, engage, and advocate for your organization and the community it serves as peers, not us and them. Isn't that what we all want? Take a little time to nix the wonky-talk, and you've got effective messages that speak to the general donor base you are seeking to attract.

What could your organization learn from online fundraising, or what have you recently accomplished that proved useful? Share in the comments!


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