Does crowdfunding work for nonprofits?

Brittany Alba

By Brittany Alba

Nobody wants to be the old curmudgeon: the parent who thought The Beatles' hair was too shaggy or the Scooby Doo villain who shakes his fist at all the meddling kids.

But embracing a new way of raising money like crowdfunding can be a risky proposition for nonprofits. It means taking a leap of faith into methods with which your organization has no proven track record for success and it means betting that you’ll be able to do it well.

However, all nonprofits that do make crowdfunding work have one thing in common: They take the leap with both feet.

Too many nonprofits think they understand the concept of crowdfunding, but don't commit the resources to properly execute it. They'll develop an idea for a campaign, but fail to spend the money on an engaging online landing page, or neglect to create a compelling marketing campaign that is essential for success.

While crowdfunding can attract donors of all ages (with last summer's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge being the perfect example), the demographic usually is weighted toward Millenials. And younger donors like their crowdfunding campaigns like the rest of their Internet: with thoughtful, sleek design, use of multimedia, and copy that speaks to them.

If you don't have the capability to generate eye-catching landing pages within your organization, you'll need to commit resources to get outside help to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.

A successful campaign also will need to generate crowdfunding ideas that will connect with the target demographic. This is best done by going to the source: By asking your younger employees or even 20-something family members for ideas they would find compelling or amusing.

There's no way to ensure a campaign will find the audience that San Francisco's Batkid did, for example, but younger audiences are often drawn to stories about their peers. And if your 20-something niece or nephew finds a story or idea compelling, it's a good bet dozens of their friends will, too.

As the Internet continues to grow in influence, and Millenials more significant in nonprofit demographics, crowdfunding will grow in importance as well. Every nonprofit will sooner or later have to take the leap, and enthusiastic and early adopters will find themselves ahead of the curve.

About the author: Brittany Alba is a Project Manager with Dunleavy & Associates, and has worked with clients across the education, human services, and community development sectors. She specializes in media relations, graphic design, market research, and event planning, and has embraced her role helping the firm and its clients find new ways to raise funds in the digital age.