8 Surefire Steps for Planning Your Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign

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Nonprofit crowdfunding is a relatively recent phenomenon in online fundraising. Crowdfunding can take many forms, and it’s usually associated with individuals raising money for a personal cause or on behalf of a nonprofit.

Nonprofits can host their own crowdfunding campaigns to receive online donations directly from their donors and their donors’ social circles to fund specific, urgent projects or campaigns.

Since crowdfunding campaigns often have a firm deadline when fundraising ceases, they can be an effective means of funding a campaign or project relatively quickly.

However, jumping into a crowdfunding campaign without proper planning can prevent your nonprofit from taking advantage of all that this particular fundraising style has to offer.

Let’s break down the steps you’ll need to take to effectively plan and run your campaign:

  1. Set your crowdfunding goals.
  2. Choose a crowdfunding platform.
  3. Design your crowdfunding page.
  4. Motivate your supporters.
  5. Advertise on social media and email.
  6. Transfer crowdfunding data into your CRM.
  7. Perform prospect research.
  8. Send follow-up materials.

Let’s get started with the first!

Set your nonprofit crowdfunding goals in advance of your campaign!

1. Set your crowdfunding goals.

Understanding the Basics

Before you can jump into a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need to know what you want to accomplish.

First and foremost, it’s important that you take the time to consider whether crowdfunding is the best option for your nonprofit. After all, peer-to-peer fundraising may be more fitting for your goals if you’re part of a larger nonprofit who can afford niche software.

If you’re part of a newer or smaller organization who could benefit from using a third-party platform to solicit donations, then crowdfunding can be the solution to your fundraising needs!

Once you’ve determined that crowdfunding is right for your organization, you need to create concrete goals.

How to Implement It

When setting crowdfunding goals, you’ll need to choose the most important objective: your overall fundraising amount. This is the amount that you want to raise throughout the course of your campaign. You’ll need to strike a balance between pushing your supporters to raise as much as possible and keeping the goal within their means. Aiming for around 30% more than what you need can give your nonprofit a cushion in the event that you don’t meet your goal.

Determining your goal is easier if you have a specific cause in mind that you want to fund. For example, an animal shelter may want to fund an expensive surgery for a dog in need or purchase ten new dog kennels.

The point is to make the cause tangible so donors understand exactly how their funds will be used.

Once you’ve set your overall goal, you can determine giving tiers for your donors. Giving tiers are suggested donation amounts that appear on the donation form. Crowdfunding campaigns generally work best when these tiers are accessible (think $25 – $500), though your tiers will depend in part on the size of your donor base.

For example, it could be difficult to fund a $10,000 project with only 50 loyal donors. You’d essentially be asking each donor for $200!

That’s why it’s important that your giving tiers reflect your donors’ giving abilities.

Taking the time to outline your goals carefully will increase the chances that your campaign will succeed.

In short: Determine your crowdfunding goal and giving tiers based upon your nonprofit’s need and your donors’ giving abilities.

Choose a nonprofit crowdfunding platform for your organization.

2. Choose a crowdfunding platform.

Understanding the Basics

One of the most important decisions you’ll make while planning your crowdfunding campaign will be choosing a crowdfunding platform.

Your platform will host your donation page and process the donations that you receive. Your nonprofit will customize the event pages based on the parameters of your chosen software and start collecting donations.

Since crowdfunding is becoming more popular among individuals, there are many platforms that you can choose from.

How to Implement It

Since there are plenty of crowdfunding websites to choose from, there are several considerations to take into account when making a decision, including:

  • Does the platform require knowledge of CSS or HTML?
  • Can donation pages be branded and customized to your organization?
  • How long does it take for donations to be processed?
  • Does the platform offer integration with your nonprofit’s CRM?
  • Are social media features included?
  • Can you create an online storefront or sell products?
  • Are there easy-to-use management tools?

As you review the crowdfunding platforms available to you and try to answer the above questions, think about if you want platform that is designed solely for nonprofits or if you’d like one that is great for all causes.

Do your research to really learn about all the crowdfunding platforms that are out there and what they have to offer you. If you find a website that has everything you want but isn’t nonprofit-specific, it should certainly still be in the running.

Many crowdfunding platforms wear multiple hats, and you might even benefit more from features that are outside the scope of what a nonprofit would traditionally look for.

Another factor to consider is how much the platform will cost. For instance, some websites charge a platform fee to use their services in addition to the payment processing fee (standard for most platforms).

When searching for a provider, you’ll need to be upfront about your nonprofit’s needs and budget so that you can create the best campaign possible.

Many crowdfunding platforms allow you create a crowdfunding campaign for free. Usually, the provider will take a percentage of each donation or of the overall profits in addition to credit card processing fees. It’s important that you check these fees in advance so that you can accurately determine the amount of each donation that you’ll receive.

Ultimately, your crowdfunding platform will be the cornerstone of your campaign. Do your research so that you can create the best campaign possible.

In short: Select a cost-effective crowdfunding platform that can meet your organization’s specific needs by asking your provider targeted questions.

Bonus! Check out the top crowdfunding platforms for nonprofits big and small.

Design your nonprofit crowdfunding page to collect online donations.

3. Design your crowdfunding page.

Understanding the Basics

Before you can start collecting donations, you’ll need to design your crowdfunding page.

Most crowdfunding pages will offer a fundraising thermometer feature to help you track your progress toward your goal. An eye-catching donation button and fields for images and text should fill out the rest of the page.

How to Implement It

Depending on the level of customization you have, you’ll want to brand the page as much as possible to your nonprofit.

That means:

  • Displaying your nonprofit’s name and logo.
  • Adding images that show the recipients of your nonprofit’s aid.
  • Writing out your nonprofit’s mission statement.
  • Including relevant videos or infographics.

Branding your crowdfunding page will assure donors that their funds are, in fact, going to your organization and that their donations are secure. Plus, a strong brand can generate better recognition, so that donors and supporters alike are more likely to remember and recognize your organization in the future.

When it comes to adding visuals, quantity is important, but so is quality. Your images and videos should develop your crowdfunding campaign’s story and keep your donors captivated.

Use the following tips when adding images to your campaign: 

  • Upload chronologically (when you can). Since your visuals help to illustrate your campaign’s story, you should post photos in order to follow the timeline of your narrative. That way, donors can follow your story and develop a deep connection to your cause.
  • Use photos that are crisp and clear. If possible, you should always take your photos and film your videos with a digital camera to ensure that you have the best quality images. Additionally, this will ensure that your page looks professional.
  • Post visuals of the people or communities you serve. Your photos and videos can help donors visualize your project or cause, which can help them connect to the people you serve and understand how their money will be used. Therefore, you should post visuals that show your organization in action.

In addition to these basic page features, you’ll need to think about telling your nonprofit’s story. Use the space you have to concisely explain how donors’ gifts can enact positive change. Think 1 to 2 paragraphs with punch!

In short: Design your crowdfunding page so that your mission is front-and-center and branded to your nonprofit.

Motivate your supporters for your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.

4. Motivate your supporters.

Understanding the Basics

One of the most effective crowdfunding strategies is offering incentives to your supporters. Doing so can encourage them to donate and spread the word about your campaign.

Incentive-based crowdfunding has been incredibly successful for both individuals and nonprofits. Rewarding donors for their contributions shows them that their donations are valued, important, and meaningful.

To do so, you can offer fundraising products that supporters receive when they make a donation. You can either sell these products directly or offer them as rewards for reaching certain giving tiers.

Either way, the goal isn’t just to give donors a prize for giving more; it’s to motivate them intrinsically by connecting them more deeply to your cause.

How to Implement It

How can you accomplish this task with fundraising products?

You can provide supporters with a product that’s meaningful. Products that remind donors of your mission can become treasured items that keep donors invested in your cause.

Nonprofits can better reach their donors by selecting products that donors will want and branding them so that the cause is front-and-center. Include your nonprofit’s name and logo on your promotional products so that supporters are reminded of your cause whenever they use the product.

Plus, branding is free advertising for your cause. Whenever donors wear or use your products in public, they’ll be spreading the word about your mission.

That’s why products like t-shirts, water bottles, or backpacks can be effective choices for your nonprofit — these awesome items are often used daily, in public places!

In short: Offering fundraising products can motivate your supporters to donate more to your cause and can connect them more deeply to your organization in the long-term.

Advertise your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign on social media and email.

5. Advertise on social media and email.

Understanding the Basics

Once your campaign is up and running, you’ll need to advertise to your donor base. Crowdfunding campaigns are great for online communication channels, especially email and social media.


These channels allow donors to access your campaign in a single click! The convenience of an online campaign can encourage more donors to give when they encounter it.

Plus, the social influence factor can persuade donors to give to your organization. Here’s how it works: donors see others liking your social media posts and giving to your campaign, which can encourage them to join in with their peers to be a part of a larger movement.

Social media advertising also provides your organization with the opportunity to reach out to new donors who may be connected to your current supporters.

How to Implement It

To create effective posts and emails, share content regarding your campaign, such as:

  • Materials, like videos, that showcase your cause.
  • Campaign milestones.
  • Updates on the progress of your mission.
  • Recognition of top donors.

These posts can keep donors engaged during the course of your campaign by showing them why their donations matter and how their gifts are being used for good.

Additionally, creating a hashtag for your campaign can help supporters find your updates across multiple social media platforms. A hashtag should be short and catchy, so that donors can easily remember it and keep tabs on your campaign.

In addition to your posting schedule, you’ll need to plan out your email strategy.

Crowdfunding campaigns often send multiple emails that increase in urgency as the campaign draws to a close. An initial email blast can be used to inform donors of your campaign, with follow-up emails asking for specific donation amounts. These kinds of emails can show donors exactly what kind of action they need to take to make a difference in your campaign!

In short: Social media and email are natural channels for advertising your crowdfunding page and keeping donors engaged throughout the campaign.

Transfer your nonprofit crowdfunding data into your CRM.

6. Transfer crowdfunding data into your CRM.

Understanding the Basics

Once you’ve received a contribution from a donor, it’s important that you input their data into your CRM.

After all, your donor data can be used to:

  • Thank donors for their current contributions and communicate with them once the campaign is over.
  • Address them by their proper names and titles across your marketing and communications.
  • Learn more about their giving capacities.
  • Calculate average gift size, and other useful analytics, that can inform your fundraising strategy.

Since data is vital to the longterm success of your mission, it’s important that you use it to learn more about your current donors and to create profiles for new donors who’ve appeared during your campaign. After all, the social nature of crowdfunding lends itself to reaching new donors.

Donor profiles are vital to the cultivation and stewardship process because they help you keep track of new and existing supporters.

How to Implement It

You should have a system in place where you’re able to not only track donors giving habits and preferred giving methods but also keep an account of your communications and other important facts you learn about individual donors.

For example, if you know that your loyal donor, Steven, is passionate about healthy living, you should include that detail in his profile. That way, when you host a marathon or walkathon, Steven can be one of the first supporters you ask to participate.

The more detailed your profiles, the easier it will be for members of your staff to interact with donors and provide them with the most relevant information.

In terms of the actual data transfer, some crowdfunding platforms will offer integration with your CRM. If this is the case, then the transfer process is easy! Donor data will automatically be uploaded into your CRM. You’ll need to double check that all the data was entered correctly, but you won’t have to do the heavy lifting yourself.

If you don’t have CRM software, or if your software doesn’t integrate with the crowdfunding platform you’ve chosen, then you’ll need to manually transfer your data.

Though this process can be tedious, it’s essential for growing and developing your donor base. Creating data entry procedures can help smooth the process so that all of your data is consistent across the board and organized.

For example, you may need to specify how addresses will be entered into your database. Will you use “Street” or “St.”? Will phone numbers be written with dashes or as one long number? Though these details may seem innocuous, they can lead to errors down the road, such as duplicate profiles or incorrect contact info.

Once you’ve gathered all of your data, you can put it to good use with prospect research, which we’ll discuss in the next step.

In short: Transfer the new data you receive into your CRM so that you can use it to grow and develop your donor base.

Perform prospect research during your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.

7. Perform prospect research.

Understanding the Basics

Once you’ve gathered your crowdfunding data in a centralized location (i.e. your CRM!), you can use that information to learn more about your donors.

Prospect research is one of the most effective means of gaining a comprehensive, holistic picture of who your donors are. Specifically, prospect research can help you identify potential major donors and other high-impact supporters.

Many donors with high giving potential won’t give significantly to a crowdfunding campaign. There are a few reasons for this phenomenon, including:

  • Crowdfunding tiers generally ask for lower level donations than other campaigns so as not to deter donors (i.e. $25, $50, $100).
  • Crowdfunding campaigns emphasize urgency, and major gifts are rarely impulsive decisions.
  • Donors may not feel comfortable contributing a significant gift through an online giving channel.

So, just because a donor gives a $100 gift, as opposed to a $1,000 gift, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t able to give significantly more.

The key is to use prospect research so that you can identify those donors who do possess more giving potential and steward them to higher giving levels.

How to Implement It

Prospect research can help you identify key traits that signify major gift potential. These traits include:

  • A donor’s giving ability.
  • A donor’s affinity for major gifts.

A donor’s giving ability speaks to their financial capacity for making a gift. After all, a donor can only give a major gift if they have the funds to do so.

But more importantly, a donor’s giving ability can help you make a targeted ask that won’t be too low or too high — in other words, an ask that’s just right.

These characteristics can help you estimate a donor’s abilities:

  • Political donations.
  • Real estate ownership.
  • SEC transactions.
  • Business affiliations.

Just as important as their ability is a donor’s affinity for giving to your nonprofit in the first place.

Indicators of affinity include:

  • Past giving to your nonprofit.
  • Past giving to other nonprofit organizations.
  • Involvement on nonprofit boards.
  • Volunteering history.

Together, donors’ abilities and affinities for giving should be analyzed comprehensively to truly understand their giving potential.

In short: Prospect research can help your organization identify potential major donors by analyzing both their ability and affinity to give.

Send follow-up materials after your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign.

8. Send follow-up materials.

Understanding the Basics

This important part of the planning phase is often overlooked, in part because it occurs after the crowdfunding campaign.

First and foremost, you’ll need to ensure that all of your donors receive a donation receipt within 24 hours after their donation. This receipt confirms their donation and shows them that their gift has been processed.

Preparing a follow-up strategy is vital for the long-term success of your campaign. After all, you want to do more than receive donations; you want to grow your nonprofit and build stronger relationships with donors.

How to Implement It

Now that you know why it’s important to send thank you notes to all of the donors who participated in your campaign, let’s see how you can ensure that these letters are as effective as possible.  You’ll want to:

  • Send them in your donors’ preferred communication channels. You don’t want to risk thanking your donors in a communication that they may not even open. They’ll never know how much your organization appreciates them! You can save time and resources by sending thank you letters in their preferred channel. For new donors, use the emails that they provided when they gave their donation.
  • Personalize each communication. Address your donors by their preferred names and titles. For current donors, it’s important that you use your most up-to-date data. A valued supporter may have earned a PhD or taken the name of their spouse. Show them that your organization cares about who they are by getting their names and titles right the first time.
  • Segment your donors. A major donor will likely expect more stewardship than a mid-level or new donor. It’s important that you thank donors accordingly, so that they feel properly appreciated. Major donations, for example, may warrant a personal phone call in addition to a thank you email.

Even though follow up materials are sent after your campaign, it’s important that you plan in advance so that you can send your thank you’s in a timely manner. Don’t leave donors waiting! Send your thanks within 3 days after the campaign ends.

As a best practice, you’ll want to send them another communication that offers them further opportunities for engagement before you make another ask.

Following a crowdfunding campaign, you can update your donors once your original goal has been achieved! Show them how their contributions helped your cause, and invite them to stay connected with your organization through upcoming volunteer opportunities or events.

In short: Plan your follow-up materials in advance so that you can properly thank your donors for their contributions and keep them engaged once your campaign is over.

Now that you know how to plan and execute your crowdfunding campaign, it’s time to get started.

Click the button below to learn more about how Qgiv’s online fundraising software can help you!

To learn more about planning for a crowdfunding platform, check out the following additional resources:

  •  Crowdfunding Mistakes. Before you start your campaign, check out this article on things you should avoid. Keep your campaign successful by steering clear of thees common crowdfunding mistakes.
  • Top Online Donation Tools. Online donation tools are important to your crowdfunding campaign as they allow you to accept donations online. Learn about the top platforms that can help you accept online donations for your campaign.
  • Ultimate Guide to Peer-to-Peer Fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a form of crowdfunding that involves nonprofit supporters fundraising on behalf of the organization to raise money online. Learn more about how your organization can implement this fundraising strategy.

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