Fundraising is hard, especially in college. Oftentimes students dread being tasked with fundraising because they see it as a chore that’s almost impossible to accomplish successfully while simultaneously navigating class, homework, exams, extracurriculars, and a job… not to mention a social life. But fundraising doesn’t need to be so difficult. In fact, it can be quick, easy, and fun – but only if done right.
Less than a year ago, my two college roommates and I started Givebutter, a social crowdfunding website, to make it easy and fun for students to fundraise for the causes they’re most passionate about. We’ve grown quickly in a short period of time, with fundraising campaigns on over 50 college campuses around the world, and we have also learned a ton along the way.
Whether you are fundraising for a nonprofit, a student org, a trip abroad, or anything in between, here are five of the best tips I’ve seen implemented on all successful crowdfunding campaigns:
#1 Plan to make direct asks of potential donors
A significant majority of donors report that the main reason they donated to a cause is because someone asked them to. Fortunately, Givebutter makes this easy by giving campaign organizers the ability to send hundreds of individual and customized emails to their contacts with the click of a button. Relying on social media posts and mass emails alone is not enough. Posting on Facebook and sending bulk emails is great for raising awareness and lowering the barrier for individual asks, but data and evidence show that the best way to hit your goal is by asking people one-on-one for donations.
#2 Hold people accountable
Most campaigns on Givebutter are done as a team, which is something that really sets us apart from other crowdfunding websites like GoFundMe. One of the best ways to hit your fundraising goal is requiring each member of your organization to raise a minimum amount of money. Setting this requirement will ensure that everyone on your team, rather than just one or two superstars, will pull their weight to make the campaign a success. Create incentives (discounted chapter dues, for example) for first, second, or third place to make it competitive.
#3 Start strong
Make the first donation to your campaign, and make sure your team members do the same, if you have them. Even if you can only give $5 you should do so, because it’s very challenging to get people to support a cause you aren’t supporting yourself! Furthermore, I can’t stress enough how important it is to build momentum early and raise as much as possible in the very beginning of your campaign. Some people do a soft launch with close friends and family to get to about 30% of their goal before publicly announcing the campaign – this is a great idea. As you continue to share and spread the campaign, people love to see progress and validation, and by starting off with a bunch of donations early on, more people will be inclined to support you as you get close to your goal. Givebutter has lots of built-in features for donor re-engagement, including the ability to send emails to all donors, so by locking people in early on you will have the opportunity to bring them back to the page towards the end of your campaign. They just might donate again, especially as you get close to your goal!
#4 Get creative
Ask someone to match every donation you receive. Pledge to shave your head or dye your hair if you raise a certain amount. Run a marathon and get someone to sponsor each mile you run. Grow a mustache, give something up, volunteer an hour for every $100 raised – anything to help raise extra dollars for your amazing campaign. People really appreciate it when you show them that you have some skin in the game and are working for the dollars you raise. People also appreciate creativity! Think outside the box and come up with new ways to raise; it’s one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do.
#5 Seek out partnerships
Remember those soccer jerseys or robotics team shirts with a bunch of logos on the back? You can now ask local businesses to sponsor your online Givebutter campaign, too! Hundreds, if not thousands, of people will be visiting your campaign, which is an excellent advertising opportunity for local businesses to show their support for your cause. This is a great way for you to raise large donations from outside your network, and it can be done in many different ways. Also seek out partnerships that can help extend the reach of your fundraising campaign. Look to partner with organizations on campus that have a similar mission. Consider every partnership in terms of reach. The larger the organization that you partner with, the larger your potential reach for your campaign. Local newspapers and school publications can be excellent partners for raising awareness about your campaign.
Ready to get fundraising? Simply head here and you can have your campaign up and running in minutes.
** This post has been modified from: https://givebutter.com/blog/how-to-run-a-successful-crowdfunding-campaign-from-start-to-finish
Max Friedman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Givebutter, a social crowdfunding website built by students, for students. Max is also currently a senior at The George Washington University, double-majoring in computer science and finance. Connect with him on LinkedIn or send him an email.