10 Things About Fundraising Via Crowdsourcing

October 6, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

With crowdsourcing campaigns popping up all over the news and social media, nonprofit leaders might be tempted to incorporate the strategy into their organizations’ fundraising efforts. Many already have done so.

Crowdsourcing campaigns solicit contributions from large groups of people simultaneously, as opposed to going from individual donor to individual donor. Campaigns are predominantly conducted online using social media, email and smartphones.

Before diving into the deep end, here are 10 things you should consider when implementing a crowdsourcing campaign:

* Plan. Crowdsourcing should be planned like any marketing strategy and be accompanied with questions such as “Why am I doing this,” and “Why will donors think this is a good way to fundraise as compared to others,” according to Miriam Kagan, senior principal at Austin, Texas-based software firm Kimbia.

* Consider whether it is best to run your campaign in-house or through a third party. While it might make more sense to look to a third party for a one-off or modest-sized campaign, it could behoove larger organizations to work with a partner to create an in-house system, Kagan said.

* Whether you are working with a partner or third party, find out how much control you will have over the design and theme of your donation page, said George Weiner, founder of tech firm Whole Whale in Brooklyn, N.Y. Can you customize the page to match your brand or will your personal touches be limited to a photo and some text?

* Calculate the cost of maintenance if you’re leaning toward creating a completely in-house system. Beyond set up expenses, one should consider the potential cost of staffing, servers, web design and web security when bringing crowdsourcing completely in house, Kagan suggested.

* Research the differences between the various types of technologies available. Different vendors might have diverse timetables in terms of providing organizations with donations and vary in donor data collected, Kagan said. Though there are hundreds of crowdsourcing tools, some are better suited for nonprofits than others, added Chad Elbert, senior vice president of sales and marketing at MobileCause in Calabasas, Calif.

* Look at the business model of your potential partner. Is it based on transaction fees? Are extra fees taken out? Elbert has seen instances in which eight points were taken off of donations in addition to standard credit card fees, something to keep in mind with organizations looking to hold on to as much money as possible.

* Limit the clicks. Each step between donors and donations reduces gifts. In instances in which potential donors are given a second page to visit before making a donation, 90 percent will not click to the next page, according to Weiner.

* Think mobile. With the proliferation of smartphones, potential donors and fundraisers can be accessible with the text of a keyword. “Usually, crowdsourcing is an impulse, and there’s no better impulse device than a smartphone,” Elbert said.

* Is there tracking available to see what drove donations, i.e. does the system integrate with Google Analytics? Without tracking, it may be difficult to tell whether donations were driven by a social media post, Google search or email, Weiner said. In general, it is easier to track analytics when donations can be made on your site as opposed to jumping donors to another site.

* Once you have donors, build relationships with them as you would with donors through other campaigns, according to Kagan. Most services provide organizations with donor information. “If they are about to charge you for the people that just donated, run, don’t walk, from the relationship,” Weiner added.