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.

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.

Fostering Empathy Online: An Important Piece of the Fundraising Puzzle

Online Fundraising AdviceFostering empathy and connecting with donors online has the potential to influence giving and build long-term relationships and support – results any nonprofit would value. Unfortunately, many of them simply don’t have the time or resources to investigate the best ways to use social media and online resources within their organizations. As a result, marketing and development teams often continue to focus heavily on attracting and engaging donors using traditional fundraising models, which can lead to a frustrating disconnect with donors and less-than-stellar fundraising results.

However, nonprofits that have taken the plunge into online outreach are seeing increased donor engagement via social media channels, influencer networks and digital-centric campaigns. They’ve also benefitted from tapping the expertise of interactive agencies to improve their online giving outcomes.

The good news is that there’s a huge array of online tools and channels available to help nonprofits connect with their audiences successfully. If you’re about to dive into social media, here are a few tactics that can make your efforts more successful and rewarding.

  1. Get to Know Your Audience

According to a Cygnus Applied Research survey, 61% of donors would prefer both to receive communications and to give exclusively online. However, 49% said they’re likely to donate less if they feel over solicited. Knowing and respecting these preferences helps you not just connect with new donors, but make sure they become long-term allies.

First, take a moment to think about your audience. Where they are spending time online, and when?  Are you trying to reach moms? Dads? Young adults? CSR directors and other professionals? What are their habits, on and offline?

Thanks to the increased amount of time that consumers are spending online and on their mobile devices, nonprofits can access much of the data about their behaviors, preferences, transactions and affiliations. Turning that information into actionable insights can help inform a development team’s specific stewardship and engagement strategies, and can be used to tailor marketing messages to different donor segments online.

  1. Create a Campaign that’s Emotional

After you’ve identified your audience, it’s time to engage, remembering that not all donors are attracted by exactly the same marketing messages. Like any relationship, social engagement is a give-and-take proposition. Liking, sharing and retweeting others’ posts and activities online is always encouraged – but it’s also wise to have a proactive social strategy that appeals to multiple donor segments and generations. For instance, outreach that grabs the attention of Millennials may or may not speak to Baby Boomers or Gen X’ers. Similarly, write your marketing materials with different platforms in mind: a blog post describing your nonprofit’s current fundraiser should also be shared widely across multiple platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Another useful tool for building donor engagement is crowdfunding – especially platforms that enable you to publish a campaign quickly and easily. IndieGogo, Tilt, Classy and 121Giving are all examples that are being used successfully by nonprofits in different categories. In 2014 alone, crowdfunding campaigns raised $10 billion worldwide, making them an invaluable approach for nonprofits with time-sensitive fundraising goals.

Most of these platforms allow nonprofits to create a branded online environment with a landing page for engaging with donors. By posting updates, videos and comments on this page, nonprofits can engage supporters as involved partners, asking them to help fulfill the organization’s mission – rather than treating them as bystanders who have little say in where their donation dollars are going.

If you decide to go down the crowdfunding path, appoint a dedicated manager within your organization to help guide these campaigns for success. Crowdfunding requires preparation, monitoring and follow-up to make the most of the opportunity – but the results can be well worth the effort.

Here are a few social tips for crowdfunding:

  • When you’re ready to kick off your campaign, create a hashtag for your fundraiser. This is a great way to aggregate tweets from multiple sources and to make it easy for donors and supporters to find vital information (e.g., where to donate).
  • Before running with that hashtag, though, make sure you’ve researched it to be sure it’s original and strikes the right tone. The last thing you want is something that’s out of context, contains slang, offensive or off-color material, or tags someone else’s content.
  • Developing a Twitter chat about the campaign can also increase awareness and engagement – and significantly grow your following.
  1. Recruit Social Ambassadors

One of the easiest ways to ensure a successful campaign is to recruit social ambassadors for your organization. For example, at 121Giving we created a Social Impact Boss program to encourage donors to share information about current fundraising campaigns on our website. Donors can sign up to receive email notifications when causes they support launch campaigns, along with regular updates.

Create tweets and Facebook posts about each campaign, and make them available to your organization’s members (and newsletter subscribers) so they can help socialize your cause. Identify all possible social ambassadors and appoint an eager volunteer as the group’s lead. Designating a social leader outside of your organization lets others take ownership and assume responsibility for helping your nonprofit reach its fundraising goals. Others want to help, and you don’t have do it alone!

Last But Not Least…

Social media is much more than a tool; it’s a necessary piece of your marketing strategy that offers a significant opportunity not only to increase donations through online channels, but to attract long-term sponsorship dollars.

Creating an online presence that targets key players, developing a social strategy, creating social ambassador programs and using social media to promote crowdfunding campaigns are all efforts that, if properly executed, can deliver outstanding results with significantly less resources than traditional fundraising models.

Nonprofit Crowdfunding Advice – Now Is the Time to Get Personal

Nonprofit Crowdfunding AdviceIn the past few years, many nonprofit organizations have turned to crowdfunding sites to increase their fundraising efforts.  Yet what is rarely discussed is that for nonprofits, conventional crowdfunding can actually backfire. Everyone is inundated with daily requests to make donations to a worthy causes that may or may not directly impact them personally or would be a cause they would be willing to support.  Simply casting a wide net and sourcing an ambivalent, large crowd of people asking for donations to an organization they may have never heard of or are not aligned with their own personal beliefs or interests, could potentially cause damage to the organizations reputation, and will certainly do little, if anything, to secure donations. Why? There is nothing “personal” about conventional crowdfunding. What does work? Using a circle-giving approach.

How does circle giving work? Everyone runs in different circles – home, work, school, church, civic, recreational. etc. When they intersect, the center represents an opportunity for circle giving – to inspire individuals to then share information to their own related networks.

Circle giving relies on first connecting with the people who already exist within an organization’s core circle – family, friends, board members, past donors – and then allowing the outreach to grow organically through these key influencers who already believe in your organizations cause. These are the people that are likely to be more than willing to help reach out to people within their own individual giving circle, or share through world of mouth.

The most powerful fundraising campaigns are the ones that create a personal and emotional connection with potential donors, particularly in an online context. A personal connection results in a much higher likelihood of giving.

While donations are an integral part of online giving, sharing the fundraiser itself is much more important since it typically leads to more donating. You can think of these circles as a Venn diagram. Sharing a compelling story in a personal way propels a tight inner circle giving campaign to the next outer circle of friends of friends, and the potential for even more sharing to the next circle, and so on.

Now that we’ve established the importance of circles, it’s imperative to know how to activate those circles with your online campaign.

Top 5 Tips for Activating Your Circles:

  1. Make it personal: A campaign needs to have a face (or faces). There needs to be a person or group of people, who will be impacted by the giving. Their stories should come alive in the course of the campaign.
  2. Make it specific: It’s all about the story. Circle giving works best when there is a clear, relatable result for the money donated.  A fundraising goal should be something tangible, so that donors have confidence that their donations will have a real impact.
  3. Make it achievable: The average gift for nonprofits is around $75. In relative terms, it’s small dollar donors who will make the funding goal happen. Be aware of the potential of your circles and pick a goal that feels attainable, especially on your first foray.
  4. Show, don’t tell: Videos work. Not the slick, over-produced ones – but the ones created by the faces of your campaign or about the people you help. It’s all about authenticity. Content is what will drive sharing, so ask yourself, “Is it share-worthy?” about any content you develop.
  5. Prime the pump: Just like at fundraising events, make sure you have some people lined up to donate in the first few days to gain momentum early on. Also, matching gift challenges can help to bring high dollar donations (i.e. “if you donate $500 in the next two days, I will match it”). People like to feel like they are part of something successful and important.

Crowds may surge, but they then disperse. Circles grow steadily, and stay. When you’re thinking about how to make crowdfunding work for you, step away from the crowd and step into your circles.


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