Charity Starts at Home for Latinos – Crowdfunding with FundLatinos

Crowdfunding TipsFundLatinos is a new crowdfunding site that brings the Latino community together to raise funds for life’s celebrations, challenges and needs.  While individuals use the platform to fund personal causes, FundLatinos also works with nonprofits to fund organizational needs.  As a charitable organization, it can be difficult to navigate the world of online fundraising Here are some tips on how to choose a platform, create your campaign, and make it successful:

Pick the Right Platform for Your Campaign

It is important to research the platform you will use for your crowdfunding efforts. Sometimes crowdfunding platforms can charge up to 15% of the total amount raised during a campaign. FundLatinos, as part of its commitment to the community, waives its fees for all charitable organizations. For nonprofits, who often struggle to have more than 50% of each dollar donated go towards their ultimate mission, this can make a huge difference. While FundLatinos will never charge fees to nonprofits, they’re also offering a “No-Fees Holiday Giving” promotion for individual projects until the end of the year.

Tell Your Story

Once you’ve selected the right platform for your crowdfunding campaign, it is time to create an inspired and compelling campaign and content strategy. Crowdfunding campaigns often work best when they present shorter term, attainable goals. Pick a specific cause that you need to fund within the next few months, rather than trying to fund your entire capital campaign over the course of a year. Once you have your cause, write a story that attracts prospective donors – tell them exactly what their funds will go towards and how each dollar will positively impact the organization. Then add visual, either a series of photos or a video. Stories that are relatable will draw more attention and interest. For example, FundLatinos has worked with Esperanza Immigration Legal Services, a nonprofit organization which assists with legal immigration needs in North Philadelphia, to create a campaign to help with the education and legal costs of undocumented immigrants.

Get the Word Out

With the assistance of social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, you can tell your story to a mass number of people in a short amount of time. Use social media consistently during the period of your campaign to spread your story. Have “friends and family” of the organization use their own social channels to share your campaign too. Never underestimate the social circles your organization has worked so hard to create. Include the campaign as part of an email blast to your stakeholders and be sure to ask them to share with their networks! You can even make it easy for them by pre-writing Facebook and Twitter content for them to post. They will thank you!

Update! Update! Update!

Maintain open communication lines with the members of your community and your donors. The FundLatinos platform allows you to write updates about your campaign. Announce large donations, number of donors, and news regarding how your specific project will benefit from the monies raised. Donors of your campaign would like to see their efforts come to life. Crowdfunding is a collaborative effort and it is key to keeping your supporters informed.

Celebrate Your Success

Lastly, when you achieve your campaign goal, celebrate and let your network know!  Keep them informed of how they assisted you in reaching your goal and how it will help those in the community.




Back to the Basics: Getting Started in Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

P2P Fundraising TipsDo you feel like your organization has exhausted its fundraising opportunities? Does making your ever increasing budget feel like getting blood from a stone? Has your organization considered peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising as a way to expand your donor pool and your bottom line? Read on for a P2P primer and how to get started in P2P!

At its core, P2P fundraising allows organizations to tap into their supporters’ networks of family, friends, and coworkers. Without P2P, an organization’s donations are generally limited to their existing constituency and those who they can reach through various marketing methods. Through P2P fundraising, organizations greatly expand their universe of donors, while empowering their supporters to contribute more to causes they are passionate about. Even better, your supporters make better fundraisers than your staff because their donation asks are more likely to result in a donation. Your organization needs to ask hundreds or perhaps even thousands of people for a donation before receiving a gift. However, through their authenticity and personal connection, your supporters are likely to generate a donation by asking a just handful of their contacts for their support.

P2P fundraising has existed in various forms for years. Did you know the Girl Scouts were selling cookies to support troop activities in the early 1900s? Though providing something in return, the Girl Scouts understood that their girls were their best advocates and could make the biggest impact on fundraising through P2P methods. Around 1970, CROP Hunger Walks organized by Church World Services, and WalkAmerica, the predecessor to the March of Dimes’ March for Babies really got things rolling for fundraising walks. Since then, other popular events have emerged centered mostly around walks, runs, and cycling events.

From the Pan Mass Challenge benefiting the Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, to the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk, to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, many larger nonprofits turned to P2P fundraising to generate a significant amount of revenue. When online P2P fundraising was introduced in the late 1990s, popularity and revenue generated through these campaigns exploded. Today, with advanced social media tools and an increasingly peer-enabled world we live in, P2P fundraising is more important than ever! And it is not limited to larger organizations – organizations of all sizes and missions can get in on this lucrative fundraising venture!

What Types of Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Are There?

Though there are many different types of P2P Fundraising that exist today, below are the four most common types of campaigns for your nonprofit to consider.

Proprietary Organizational Events

These events are developed and executed by the organization, and are likely the ones you are more familiar with. Though these events tend to be runs, walks, or rides, like the aforementioned examples, you will also find other types of events such as bowling tournaments, dance marathons, and even jump rope events. These events are also touted as a way to spread awareness about the organization and the cause. As they tend to take place at yearly intervals, proprietary events can foster loyalty to the organization.

Third Party Events

Third party events take advantage of existing events, typically athletic or endurance types of events, to engage fundraisers. For example, nearly 175 different non-profits have participants run and raise money through the Chicago Marathon. The obvious advantage of this type of P2P fundraising is that the organization doesn’t have to put on the event itself. The disadvantage can sometimes be that the connection with the organization is not as strong, as runners may sign up with a non-profit to gain entry into the event. More work is needed to form a connection with the cause and the organization.

Do-It-Yourself

This type or P2P fundraising in facilitated by the nonprofit, while the actual planning of the personal campaign is handled by the fundraiser. For example, charity:water encourages their supporters to set up a fundraising page for their birthdays and ask for donations in lieu of gifts. This type of fundraising also includes memorial and tribute pages, dare campaigns (I’ll shave my head if you help me raise money), or events such as bake sales, athletic endeavors, or parties. This type of fundraising is limited only by your organization’s willingness to cede control and the creativity of your supporters.

Project-Based

Peer-2-Peer Fundraising TipsThis type of fundraising is gaining in popularity in other types of business and is very similar to crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is the practice of financing a particular project by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people. Movie producers crowdfund the making of their movies, entrepreneurs crowdfund business ventures, newlyweds crowdfund honeymoons. This is the next generation of P2P fundraising!

This type of fundraising has been limited to major donors in the past. For example, when financing the construction of a new building, large donors are sought out for naming opportunities and sponsorships. In this model, P2P fundraisers are recruited to help raise a certain amount of money for a particular project in a certain amount of time. Like do-it-yourself, there is no event for the organization to produce, and it has the benefit of allowing supporters and donors to be very involved and excited about financing a project. This could apply to funding a certain type of research, feeding a certain amount of people during the holidays, providing shelter to fire victims, and so much more!

Is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Right for Us?

Though exciting, P2P fundraising is not a fit for every organization for a variety of reasons. Before you get started it is wise to do a self-assessment and some evaluation.

Resources

Every nonprofit is looking for the silver bullet of fundraising, but we all know there usually isn’t one. Like anything else, raising money takes time, effort, and budget. Before starting off, ask yourself these questions.

  • Do we have staff available to dedicate to these efforts? There should generally be someone or a team who is ultimately accountable for generating revenue through this campaign. This is typically a fundraiser, not a member of the marketing or IT team, though those functional areas will also be critical to setting up the campaign. If your organization is smaller, is everyone’s plate already overflowing?
  • Do we have budget to invest in a new campaign? There is a lot more involved than just setting up a website and letting your supporters go to it. Costs for marketing, event costs, and supporter resources are just a few things to consider.

Research

Looking around the industry and your own organizational niche can shed some important light on what the market will bear when it comes to introducing a new campaign.

  • Take a look inside: Does your organization already have a P2P campaign? Have you ever tried one before? If so, how did it go? The past is not always the best predictor of the future, but it can provide hints on what went well and what did not, providing you with ammunition to improve upon existing or prior campaigns.
  • What is working in the industry: As you evaluate different types of P2P campaign, talk to others who have been involved in managing these campaigns. What are the primary pros and cons from their point of view? What would they do differently? Observe their campaigns online and in-person and look for insights that can help you. Remember, there is no better form of flattery than “borrowing” techniques that are working well for others!
  • What is working in your local area or with your direct competitors: Can your immediate market sustain a new fundraising effort? Are there other programs like yours that already exist? If so, what spin could you put on a new campaign that will set it apart from the competition?

Expectations

Internal and external expectations can go in several different directions, but here are the two most common, but very opposite, possibilities.

  • No buy-in: You are very excited by the prospect of starting a P2P campaign, but you are having difficulty finding any other champions within your organization. Starting a new campaign of this magnitude takes commitment throughout the entire organization. Continue to build your case until you have solid buy-in, particularly from senior management.
  • Unrealistic expectations: Your board chair saw the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge or some other P2P campaign and believes that you too can bring in a windfall with very little effort or investment. This kind of attitude is setting you up for failure. As noted above, adequate resources and staff time must be dedicated to a campaign like this – and not just at the beginning. An ongoing commitment and the realization that most “overnight successes” are actually years in the making.

Get Started!

Peer-to-peer fundraising is one of the most rewarding experiences for both participants and staff alike. If you’ve done your homework and are ready to take the plunge, you will not regret your decision!

To see how your existing event stacks up against similar P2P campaigns, or to see what may be possible for a new one, be sure to check out the recently released Peer-to-Peer Benchmark Study from Blackbaud!

Crowdfunding: The Do’s and Don’ts

nonprofit crowdfunding tipsCrowdfunding is exploding in popularity in both the for-profit and non-profit space. According to a Massolution report, the crowdfunding industry is doubling, or more, every year and will far surpass the yearly average of $30 billion raised from venture capital by the end of 2016.

Currently, the most successful campaign of all time on crowdfunding platform GoFundMe supports the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting and their families. So far, more than $7 million has been raised for Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s LGBT community.

Crowdfunding allowed the organization to quickly solicit donations and get much-needed help to the victims of this tragedy. Funding could have been secured in other ways, but crowdfunding allowed the organization to drastically increase their donor base and likely took significantly less time, manpower and money than more traditional forms of fundraising. The campaign also garnered more than 239,000 social media shares, increasing the reach of the nonprofit’s message.

Any nonprofit can start a crowdfunding campaign, but to do it effectively keep these do’s and don’ts in mind:

Do: Clearly Explain the Cause

The first step in any successful crowdfunding campaign is to outline what the specific cause is, why it’s important and where the money will be going. Be completely transparent and get specific (i.e. $30 will fund a child’s education for one month). Include details about your nonprofit, its history and the results of past fundraising campaigns as well.

Don’t: Overlook Local Regulations

Laws regulating crowdfunding and other fundraising efforts vary by state. Skip the state registration process allowing your organization to solicit donations, and your organization can be hit with civil or even criminal penalties. Soliciting donations from multiple states? You might be subject to the jurisdiction of all of them.

The specific regulations surrounding crowdfunding are debated, but the Charleston Principles written by the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) can help provide some guidance. Your tax professional should also be able to provide valuable counsel.

Do: Build a Strong Support Base

Potential donors who are not already familiar with your organization or cause are much more likely to contribute if the crowdfunding campaign already has strong traction. Before promoting the campaign with the public, reach out to current and past donors who can start to build momentum. Ideally, 30 percent of your crowdfunding goal will already have been reached before your campaign even goes public. This builds credibility for your campaign from the start and helps to nurture your relationship with your donor base.

Don’t: Ignore the Tax Implications

No matter how noble a cause may seem, donations made through crowdfunding are only tax deductible if they are made to a 501(c)(3) organization under the IRS tax code. Emphasize that your nonprofit has this designation and explain the tax implications to prospective donors to give you a leg up over requests from individuals, for-profit organizations and entities that aren’t designated as qualified charitable organizations.  Any questions on this aspect should be addressed by your CPA.

Do: Offer Matching Gift Programs

You can also incentivize corporations to participate in your crowdfunding campaign with a matching gift program. Giving companies the option to match any individual gifts received through a crowdfunding campaign gives them additional exposure and builds excitement around their contribution. Matching campaigns also can encourage a surge of donations from individuals who see that each dollar they donate will go much further. In lieu of a monetary donation, companies can also get involved by providing in-kind gifts for various levels of individual giving.

Don’t: Forget to Thank Supporters

Just as you should with traditional donations, every single person who contributes through a crowdfunding platform should be thanked. This can be a daunting task for viral campaigns, but by keeping proper records, it is doable and invaluable for building relationships with future potential donors. Show gratitude and make it clear exactly where their money is going. Many campaigns offer tiered rewards for donating above certain thresholds, which furthers goodwill with new and existing donors.

Do: Use Crowdfunding to Solicit Corporate Sponsors

When asking for larger donations from corporations, decision makers may need more convincing than your typical pitch. Competition among nonprofits for corporate sponsors is fierce, and a history of successful crowdfunding campaigns can help you prove that your cause has a strong support base.

Take the time to build and follow through with a solid strategy for your organization’s crowdfunding campaign, and it can become an important tool for soliciting donations on a large scale.

Draw on the Crowd: How Not-for-Profits Can Take Advantage of Crowdfunding

Draw on the Crowd: How Not-for-Profits Can Take Advantage of CrowdfundingNot-for-profit organizations face new opportunities for receiving support from their community, and one of the fastest growing resources comes from crowdfunding platforms. Crowdfunding, the practice of using a broad base of contributors through established online platforms, promises to surpass venture capital as a financing source in 2016, according to a report from MassSolutions.

Online platforms are growing in popularity in part because participants do not have the same barriers to entry in order to invest in companies, projects and other initiatives. Minimum income requirements for investors are low, as is the minimum contribution amount.

Not-for-profit organizations can use crowdfunding for a number of organizational functions, from specific projects to broader causes and general support. Several platforms even target those who want to give altruistically by matching them to charitable organizations.

Maximizing the advantages under crowdfunding requires planning because reaching out to a broader base of contributors can come with risks. Not-for-profit organizations should consider the following carefully when determining how to use the crowdfunding tools.

Find the Right Fit

The key to any contribution campaign, be it a traditional fundraising effort or crowdfunding, is to have a focused goal in mind and find the right fit for your organization.

Some not-for-profit organizations have successfully utilized crowdfunding for construction projects. For example, a not-for-profit group in New York used Kickstarter to raise money for an art studio. In a 30-day period, it exceeded its $16,000 goal. One of the largest crowdfunded campaigns of 2015 involved Morehouse College’s King Chapel. Using Indiegogo the college generated more than $5 million for a new roof and HVAC system for the chapel, among other needed items.

Whichever portal or project organizations decide to use for crowdfunding, they should have a clear idea of how that portal aligns with their mission and ultimate objective.

Be Descriptive and Project Results

The appeal of crowdfunding is that it brings organizations into contact with a broader audience of donors. Not-for-profit organizations that operate with a limited development budget can reach potential contributors on an international scale using an Internet platform at a relatively low cost.

Nevertheless, with the popularity of crowdfunding, organizations must develop ways to distinguish themselves from other not-for-profit and for-profit options. For-profit companies can promise returns on investment. Not-for-profit organizations have to be able to demonstrate a different kind of incentive for contributions.

Donors want evidence that their money makes a difference to your mission, and the more specific organizations can be about how the money will be used and the measurable results of that project, the more potential donors can see how their dollars will affect change.

Organizations may also need to consider what tangible incentives the donors may receive in exchange for their contributions. The not-for-profit in New York that raised money for a new facility sent some of its donors items made by the art studio and invited donors to tour the facility and join the open house party once construction was complete.

Keep in Mind Crowdfunding Isn’t the Ultimate Solution

Just because there’s a large geographic reach for a project doesn’t guarantee a not-for-profit will receive the full funding amount desired for a project. When planning for a project that uses crowdfunding, be sure to have a contingency plan in case the crowdfunding does not generate the return anticipated. If organizations want to use crowdfunding for crucial building repairs, they should also draw from traditional budgeting and planning sources to ensure the project can be completed regardless of what online donors contribute.

Online donors also do not have the same relationship with the not-for-profit as donors in the local community served by the organization. If a project experiences an unexpected setback, it may be difficult to go back to an online donor base and explain why the organization needs more funding for a project. Drumming up repeat support for your organization may also be difficult.

Broader Reach Means More Regulations

There is a question of whether the states will enforce solicitation rules to these crowdfunding sites.  Most states have requirements for not-for-profits that solicit funds from their residents, and many follow the guidelines set out by NASCO (National Association of State Charity Officials) in the Charleston Principles, which treat online fundraising activity the same as physical fundraising.

Regulations vary by jurisdiction, as do filing requirements and deadlines, which can complicate compliance. Online solicitation means that organizations may be registering with many more states than they have previously. Organizations should consult a tax advisor experienced with charitable solicitation statutes before engaging in a national campaign to ensure a plan is in place for meeting multiple-state registration and reporting requirements.

Some Additional Considerations

Make sure you understand the fees. Sites may charge a percentage based on funds raised, a percentage plus a transaction fee or a percentage of the goal whether it is met.

Understand who is responsible for things such as donor acknowledgements. Although there is not yet much IRS Guidance, the rules for substantiation still apply. It appears these sites do not fall under the reporting for professional fundraisers (including disclosure on Schedule G).  Watch that the site you select is not set up by a registered fundraiser.

An outside adviser who understands both the unique operating challenges of not-for-profit organizations as well as the considerations for crowdfunding can help bring clarity to whether crowdfunding is a good fit.

Five Misconceptions about Fundraising

Fundraising TipsFundraising and nonprofits go hand-in-hand like a horse and carriage, with one powering the change for the other. In this comparison, fundraising provides the means that allows nonprofits to carry out their goals with speed and efficiency.

However, with more than 10 years of fundraising and consulting experience, the team at Clarkson Davis has recognized several pitfalls with nonprofits and how they approach fundraising. Many of these misconceptions can lead to putting the carriage before the horse, making fundraising harder than it needs to be.

The following points are the most common pitfalls associated with nonprofits and socially focused organizations attempting to reach their financial goals:

 

CEO doesn’t have volunteer fundraising support
No matter how strong or effective a CEO is, raising money – especially for large-scale capital fundraising campaigns – takes a significant amount of time, energy and connections.

Major donors typically give to an organization, but most often they give funds to a peer who is also giving to the organization. Peer to peer fundraising is the most effective and efficient way to raise money.

Solution: Take the pressure off the CEO by building a team to support him or her. A team will distribute responsibilities and resources, alleviating the pressure off one person, while also drastically expanding the network of connections.

 

Volunteers think of raising money like closing a business deal.
Fundraising is inherently relational and not transactional. Successful business leaders often approach their fundraising like they approach their business deals.  They focus on closing the deal. 

However, giving money away for a cause is not an easy decision like buying a tangible good or service, so more time and attention needs to be spent to get the donor comfortable enough to make a meaningful contribution.

Solution: Educate volunteers to “put themselves in other peoples’ shoes.” A simple training explaining how executives make financial decisions and reasons for giving will cover the basics volunteers will need to know when fundraising.

 

The Board approves, but doesn’t give to the capital campaign.
We see far too often boards of directors that approve capital projects, but when asked to make a contribution above and beyond their annual gift, they are reluctant to do so.

Having a strong board leader who is also on the capital campaign committee is imperative to

  1. gaining 100 percent board participation for the project and
  2. raising as much money from the board as possible.
    We have one client whose board gave more than five times their collective annual gifts, and they hit 100 percent participation.

Solution: If you are able to select the board leader, pick someone who will inspire giving through leading by example. If not, providing tangible results like participation rates and the total funds collected can encourage the board to give to meet or exceed these markers.

 

The capital campaign budget only includes the hard costs of construction.
Many times, nonprofits will only think of their capital campaigns in terms of construction and design costs. They have not thought through the need to expand their operating budgets to include increased staff and program costs that will result from a new building (assuming the expansion of programs).

Taking the time to build a multi-year operating budget that can be partially financed in the capital campaign can be critical to ensuring the sustainability of the organization.

Solution: Plan out foreseeable costs, especially plans for growth. The process of writing out the budget will also highlight other costs and fees that might not have been originally considered.

 

The organization is not “campaign ready.”
Organizations who want to embark upon a capital campaign must be sure to have the following issues addressed: clean donor records, a meaningful and relevant vision supported by a business plan that supports the capital campaign, a well-respected and competent leader and board of directors, and a diverse and consistent donor base who are actively involved in giving to the organization.

Solution: Stack the cards in your favor by building a solid base for fundraising efforts. Once an organization has a clear vision, competent leadership and a network of donors to contact, all that is left is to put the fundraising plan into motion.

 

Fundraising doesn’t need to be difficult, and if you can avoid these pitfalls with your campaign, you will be well on your way to reaching your organization’s goals.

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