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Last reviewed: 18 November 2020

This page takes you through the steps you need to get started with crowdfunding. We recommend using it together with guides provided by the crowdfunding platform you choose.

Pick your project

You need to have a specific campaign with a clear outcome.This could be launching a new service, creating a new product or holding an event.

The Holding Hope Charity want to raise money to provide emotional and practical support over Christmas to children with a terminally ill brother or sister. They don’t have their own donation platform on their website but they do have a strong facebook group of families and an instagram used by teenagers. They decide to try a crowdfunding platform. They don’t have rewards and rely on the feel good factor. They raise over £15,000 towards 'Christmas'.

Pick your target audience

You need to think about crowdfunding the same way as you do other types of fundraising or marketing.

  • Who will you aim to reach? Where on social media do they hang out?
  • Who will help you reach them? Which of your volunteers or supporters can you ask to help?
  • What kind of rewards will appeal to them? Can you persuade anyone to donate those rewards?

Plan your budget

You need to be clear about how much money you need and where it is going to go.

Include the costs of your project that you need to cover from this funding. Decide which parts of the project you need to pay fees for and which parts can be done by volunteers..

Don’t forget the costs of fees paid to the crowdfunding site and the costs of offering rewards. Add everything up to set your target.

Example

Our Future is a youth-led environmental campaign group. They want to raise money to fund visits to schools to talk to other young people about climate change. They use rewards to help the campaign too. A volunteer designs a slogan and logo. They use a print and demand service to put them onto badges, mugs and organic cotton t-shirts for different levels of reward. They create a spreadsheet to show them how much of every donation goes towards the reward and how much is actual income to their project.

Plan your pitch

You’ll need to explain what your project is. You have to tell people what you need the money for and what difference you will make. You need to be clear, concise and grab attention.

You can use

  • A short video
  • A selection of photos
  • A short written message

There is lots of advice from crowdfunding sites on how to do these well. You don’t need to pay for professional support but you do need to plan well and follow guidance.

Example

Fiona is a village hall caretaker. The committee is planning a crowdfunding campaign for some new equipment for the hall. Fiona asks Ayla, her granddaughter who is doing GCSE media studies, to help them make a video. Ayla uses her smartphone and films a 30 second introduction from the chair of the committee. Then she films some of the groups using the hall. She adds subtitles that describe how that group would use the new equipment. She gets permission from everyone and shows the final edit to everyone involved in filming before it is used.

Choose your crowdfunding platform

When you are choosing your digital crowdfunding platform you need to think about the different types of crowdfunding you could do. Types of crowdfunding include:

  • donation-based crowdfunding. This is when your supporters donate small amounts to a larger target while receiving no benefits themselves. This is great if you have a project that needs funds, and won’t be able to offer backers anything. They support you for the feel-good benefits of making the project happen. It is more like other digital fundraising
  • rewards-based crowdfunding. This type of crowdfunding is when your supporters give towards a specific project in return for receiving a reward or product at a later date. It is the type of crowdfunding that is most like commercial crowdfunding for new business or hobby ideas
  • ‘all or nothing’ crowdfunding. This type of crowdfunding means you won’t get any of the funds raised if you don’t reach your target. Many crowdfunding sites use this 'all or nothing' rule. It means you never have to work out how to deliver a project when you don’t have enough funds for it. It also helps create a 'buzz' about giving in the last few days of the campaign as you make posts about how much you need to hit that target
  • ‘keep it all’ crowdfunding is the opposite to ‘all or nothing’ crowdfunding. You get to keep all the funds raised, even if you don’t reach your target. This is allowed on some platforms. It could mean you have to deliver the project you pitched with a small amount of money.

To choose your platform you need to decide what type of crowdfunding campaign you want to run.

  • Do I want to run a donation-based or a rewards-based crowdfunding campaign?
  • Do I want to run an ‘all or nothing’ or a ‘keep it all’ crowdfunding campaign?

Then you also need to check the following questions.

  • What fee does the platform charge?
  • Is there also a Paypal or credit card fee as well as the platform charge?
  • Does the platform offer any support?
  • Is the support from the platform useful to my organisation?

Example

Animal Matters used to fundraise using raffles and silent auction events. They knew they could get product and activity donations from their supporters. They run a reward based campaign with rewards at many levels. These included simple cards from a local craft person for the lowest level, VIP visits to the sanctuary for top donors and others in between. They raise over £15,000 for a new van they badly needed.

Three platforms with particular interest in groups and organisations.

  • A platform that offers services for charities. Crowdfunder.
  • A platform that focuses on local community projects. Spacehive.
  • A platform focused on work overseas.Global giving

There are many other crowdfunding platforms available. They are designed for businesses, but they can work for groups and organisations.

The most well known are:

There are many platforms for raising money online that are not crowdfunding platforms.You can use them to collect donations. They are not as good at helping you stay in touch with your supporters as crowdfunding platforms but you can set them up very quickly. Use them to test whether you can reach people who want to make online donations.

The most well known are:

Example

We Are What We Eat is a small organisation tackling food poverty. They want to create an educational board-game to raise awareness. Their volunteers include two people who have designed board games before. They suggest making use of their personal connections and using the Kickstarter platform because so many board gamers look for new projects to support there. They put lots of effort into social media and raise more than their first goal. They hit their target and then create stretch goals where the money goes directly to communities in food poverty, not just the board game.

Launch your campaign

You’ll need to coordinate an online campaign to get people to your crowdfunding page and donating. It shouldn’t be a surprise on the day you launch. You need to let your supporters know what to expect and when.

Then invite your community through email and social media to back the project with pledges of cash. Encourage people to share your campaign and when they donate.

Try to get your most loyal supporters contributing right at the start. When the numbers go up quickly that makes others more likely to give.

Also have people ready to help when the time limit is about to end. Lots of “all or nothing” campaigns get surges of donations right at the last minute by talking about it on social media.

At every step

Use the advice given by the platform you have chosen. They will have blogs and video tutorials to help you.

Know what level of professionalism your supporters will expect. This will depend on the size of your organisation and how your target audience likes to behave online. Do your research with your closest supporters.

Keep your supporters updated about the progress of the campaign and how close you are to the target. Thank them when they do contribute, let them know what difference their money will make.

Related advice.

This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 18 November 2020

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