By Anita Gallagher
Training Lead at HIPGive
What’s more important in crowdfunding: the crowd or the funding? A strange question perhaps, but one that is not asked often enough. For many nonprofits, it’s about the funds. Crowdfunding is simply an interesting appendix to the annual fundraising program.
At HIPGive, we believe that empowering the crowd is at the heart of any successful crowdfunding initiative. We’ve seen time and time again how a well run campaign unleashes benefits as diverse as improving teams’ marketing skills, reaching brand new audiences and bringing visibility to new aspects of the mission.
Crowdfunding is also expanding the horizons of the philanthropic sector itself, broadening the opportunities for, literally, crowds of people from all walks of life to become involved with the causes they care about.In the words of Karl Wilding from the UK’s NCVO, “The rise of digital and social media, and frustrations with ‘industrial fundraising’ and the future of doing good is beginning to look very different. The future of social-sector organizations will be as the hubs for networks of individuals, empowering supporters to change the world around them. Crowdfunding absolutely fits this model.” (1)
How can you benefit from the transformative power of crowdfunding? Here are three big ideas we encourage you to embrace in your upcoming campaigns.
- Access and inclusion: encourage more people to give
The increasingly elitist nature of philanthropy is a worrying trend as organizations rely more and more on larger donations from smaller numbers of (wealthy) donors. In addition, alarm signals are being sounded about “top heavy” philanthropy dominated by giving to private foundations and donor-advised funds, rather than active nonprofits serving immediate needs. (2)
Crowdfunding campaigns can redress the balance, offering everyone the opportunity to give and in doing so, reshaping what it means to be a giver and a philanthropist. How? By encouraging donations of all sizes, from as little as $5 or $10, by showing how easy, safe and quick it is to donate online and most of all, by sharing messages that show how even small donations add up to make a real difference.
- Building community: energize your tribe
As your organization reaches more people across new communications channels, you will be better positioned to build relationships with givers and supporters online. Sharing updates on the project that was supported, encouraging comments and questions, enabling contributors to share their “giving stories” and engage in peer-to-peer fundraising… none of these ideas are wildly innovative in themselves, but together they’ll enable you to embark on a new phase of building engagement and commitment from your community.
The end result? More people power for your mission. You and your team won’t stand alone; you’ll have a community of caring, empowered individuals who will take action for you and with you to build the world you want to live in.
- Innovation: learn and grow
Givers and program participants or beneficiaries aren’t the only people to benefit from crowdfunding campaigns, your team will too. 97% of campaign coordinators in HIPGive’s 2020 #GOMujeres and #MxDona initiatives reported improvements in their digital marketing skills with many also noting significant “first time” achievements such as trying brand new messaging, engaging their Board in peer-to-peer promotion or competing for matching funds.
For many nonprofits, the experience of being open to innovation, taking more risks and seeing what works is just as important as the financial results of the campaign. The key is in recognising that there are more ways to measure success than just by the funds raised and involving all of your team in a strong feedback and learning process at the end of each campaign.
Crowdfunding is about more than just the money. An investment in your digital engagement capacity is a sound investment in the future of your organization.
(1) Karl Wilding quoted in NESTA 2016. Source: https://www.nesta.org.uk/press-release/good-causes-yet-to-see-benefit-of-crowdfunding-boom-new-research-shows/
(2) Collins, Chuck & Flannery, Helen. 2020. Gilded Giving 2020. How wealth inequality distorts philanthropy and imperils democracy.