Crowdfunding offers nonprofits an unprecedented level of access to potential donations. But, just like any other tool, it has to be used correctly for the best results. Crowdfunding on the Internet requires in-depth knowledge of social media, technology, and marketing -- all of which a nonprofit organization may not consider. Here are a few of the major mistakes that nonprofits make during their first campaign.
Not Understanding the Technology
Crowdfunding online is highly technical. From bank account information to social media, running a nonprofit campaign safely requires a thorough understanding of security, privacy, and other related concerns. Every few months, there's a story about a crowdfunding campaign that got "hijacked" because it used the wrong email address or because it had a weak password.
Not only does this cause the crowdfunding campaign to come grinding to a halt, but it also means that people may be hesitant to donate in the future. Security is paramount when not only dealing with financial information but also personally identifiable information.
Running a "Set and Forget" Campaign
It's easy to assume that your campaign will be able to stand on its own feet, especially when it's for a cause that you believe in. But it's not enough to simply upload a campaign and wait to see what happens. You also need to promote it on your own, through social media, in your neighborhood, and among your existing supporters.
Advertising your campaign can cause exponential growth. As you expand into new markets, these new followers will spread your message even further. Eventually, you can develop momentum and start expanding with minimal effort on your own part -- but it all begins with work. Most crowdfunding platforms today are fairly busy and aren't going to do significant advertising and cross-promotion on their own; they're simply giving you the tools you need.
Not Getting Commitments Early On
Have you ever been about to make a purchase but stopped yourself because there were no reviews? Crowdfunding campaigns can be like that, too. When a new person stumbles on a campaign that has very few donations, they may hesitate. They may wonder "What's wrong with this place? Is it new? Is it a scam?"
This is perfectly natural. The best way to get people over this, though, is to make sure there are donations early on. Tap your existing resources when you initially launch a campaign so you can start getting donations from others right away.
Having Vague or Large Goals
Nonprofits need to know exactly how much they want to raise and why. Perhaps more importantly they also need to be able to have a value proposition for their donors, whether it's a "thank you" greeting from the people who have been helped or video updates later on. Everyone wants some tangible result to their commitment.
Many nonprofits make the mistake of trying to go too big too fast. Initial crowdfunding strategies should usually be small and obtainable; from there, the nonprofit can start to grow.
Crowdfunding is a process. Nonprofits will learn and grow as they commit to larger campaigns, but they can also reduce some of this learning time by following the tips above. Above all, it's important that nonprofits understand the technology they're using and the marketing that will drive their commitments.