3 Questions Every Nonprofit Needs to Answer Before Crowdfunding

Planning is Everything

That’s what all successful crowdfunders advise. We’ve discussed many aspects of preparation in previous posts and in our case studies. Choosing a platform (whether it’s a self-hosted crowdfunding solution, or a service), carefully designing levels of support and rewards, doing test transactions, and creating compelling content to engage potential supporters, are just a few of the important things that happen prior to a successful crowdfunding campaign.

When it comes to nonprofits, charities, and NGOs specifically, there are some important considerations for the planning stage, which may not be so obvious. We’ve boiled these down to three questions crowdfunding nonprofits should be asking themselves during the development phase of a campaign. Having answers to these questions will help your organization to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Can Your Crowdfunding Campaign Be Related To Something Tangible?

BabyWorm.org uses IgnitionDeck to run multiple campaigns, each resulting in the purchase of an incubator used for rescuing wild animals.
BabyWarm.org uses IgnitionDeck to run multiple campaigns, each resulting in the purchase of an incubator for rescuing wild animals.

Many nonprofits, charities, and NGOs that have entered the modern crowdfunding world have found that they have better results when funding directly results in something physically measurable. Physical outcomes give supporters a visceral sense of potential accomplishment that may be more inspiring than merely meeting an abstract budgeting goal.

A great example of this is Kim Barker’s organization, Baby Warm. Every crowdfunding campaign that Baby Warm initiates results in the purchase of an incubation unit that will help a wildlife rehab volunteer save baby animals. Kim says:

“From my experience with helping raise funds, I know that people are more likely to donate to a specific thing they can envision rather than making a general donation – so the natural step was to fundraise specifically incubators.”

If you currently don’t have a tangible outcome as the target of your fundraising concept, maybe shifting some things around in your budget can lead to a better outcome. For instance, maybe you already budgeted for a big-ticket purchase that you can move over to the crowdfunding section of your ledger. It may require a bit of creativity to come up with a way that your organization’s fundraising goal can be linked to a physical outcome, but if there’s a way it can be, you will likely have greater support from your community.

What Is Your Organization’s Story?

Branding is often associated with the commercial, for-profit world, but really, branding is just how an organization builds a public face that people can come to know and trust. Branding is important, even for nonprofits, and an important part of branding is having a story. A good brand story isn’t a way to mislead anyone. Instead, a brand story is a way to describe what your organization is doing and why.

Your brand’s story is arguably the most powerful part of your campaign because it’s what enables you to connect with people. Without a story, your organization will be talking at people instead of sharing a vision that others can empathize with. If your organization has good brand story, other people will want to be part of that story.

“Storytelling is a powerful technique for building relationships. It’s an age-old concept that brings people together and keeps them engaged.”

Marketing gurus Neil Patel and Ritika Puri

To help your nonprofit find its story, ask your team:

  • Why are we doing what we’re doing?
  • Why is what we’re doing important?
  • What motivates us specifically to do it?

The answers to these questions will help you shape your message to potential contributors. Develop a easily relatable story for your organization and tie it in with all your messaging. To learn more about brand development, including the “story” aspect, check out our post called ‘Brand Building for the Modern Day Crowdfunder.’

Baby Warm has a very clear brand story which inspires contributions to their crowdfunding campaigns

Are You Approaching Your Messaging Like a Marketer?

Many non-profit organizations do not have the resources to have a professional marketing team on staff, but that doesn’t mean someone in your organization can’t learn some basics about marketing, web design, and writing good copy. You may have a great story, an honorable mission, and a large network of people that want to support you, but none of this will automatically lead to a successful campaign if people don’t know what you want them to do.

Testing your messaging is instrumental in determining if your story and call to action will resonate with new people.

All your communication – emails, social media posts, website calls to action – must be two things:

  1. Clear
  2. Concise

Clear means virtually anyone can quickly and easily understand what you are asking them to do. People that interact with your crowdfunding site need to be able to understand what you want, why you want it, and how people can help you get there. If someone reads any of your messaging and can’t understand one of those things, revise your copy.

To test the clarity of your communication, show it to a few people not involved with your organization before you’re ready to publish. Testing your messaging is instrumental in determining if your story and call to action will resonate with new people.

Concise means saying what you need to in as few words as possible. Get to the point. Remove unnecessary text and clutter from your messaging. Here’s what Demian Farnworth, chief copywriter for Copyblogger, recommends:

• Eliminate petty sentences, use active verbs, and get to the point.
• Cut your introduction and jump right into the meat of the story.
• Eliminate sections that are irrelevant (often impossible unless you leave your copy for a day or two).

• Use simple words, short sentences, and small paragraphs.


Once you’ve created clear and concise messaging, you need to determine the placement of the content on your website. Put the most important information and calls to action above the fold (prominent without a user needing to scroll or click). If you’re just starting out and don’t know what your website needs to include, check out our content outline for crowdfunding websites to get some ideas.

Along with careful planning in general, having solid answers to these questions should get your nonprofit or other organization off to a great start developing a successful crowdfunding campaign.

Be sure to check out our 4-part series on how to crowdfund like a marketer, stay tuned for more great crowdfunding and e-commerce tips, and subscribe to our newsletter here.

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