Since 1965 over 22,000 young people have circled the globe with Up with People. As a non-profit and as a program that helps hundreds of our participants fundraise each year we understand a thing or two about fundraising. Whether you are raising funds for a good cause or to travel the world, crowdfunding online can be both necessary and challenging. Crowdfunding is defined as, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” Where does one begin? In this post we explore the many options available online to help you choose the best approach for your fundraising goals.
Top Crowdfunding Platform Comparison Guide
GoFundMe.com – GoFundMe operates under the “keep what you raise” fundraising model and is the best for individuals looking to raise funds for whatever reason as their name implies. You don’t lose out on donations if you don’t reach your goal. They offer unlimited duration or custom deadlines for your campaigns and are a popular choice for young creatives and travelers. Cost – 2.9% of total raised plus $0.30 gift processing fee per donation.
KickStarter.com – With KickStarter you must either meet or exceed your goal or you keep nothing and all donations are returned to donors. This platform is best for starting a new organization or business. Campaign duration can last from 1 – 60 days. Kickstarter is the most competitive of all platforms therefore it can be harder to stand out. Cost – If goal is met, 5% of money raised goes to Kickstarter, plus 3-5% to Amazon Payments to cover gift processing.
IndieGoGo.com – Popular with the creative crowd, this platform is shared with as many as 10,000 causes at one time, leaving the site cluttered with campaigns for donors to sort through. Competition here is high. IndieGoGo operates under both the “keep what you raise” and “all or nothing” model. Campaign duration can last from 1 – 120 days. Cost – 8% platform and gift processing fee plus $0.30 transaction fee per gift.
YouCaring.com – When individuals, groups, or communities need to raise funds in the face of hardship, YouCaring can be a great option. Unlike most online crowdfunding sites, YouCaring doesn’t charge a platform fee off what you have raised. They also have a tuition pre-built page which people can use for college, gap year program or study abroad semester fundraising.
Classy.org – Classy is tailored to large nonprofit organizations and social enterprises. It is not a good fit for individuals and small fundraising campaigns. Cost – $499 per month making it one of the more expensive options out there.
Donate Direct To Individuals – With the rise of services and apps like VenMo and Zelle, supporting an individual directly has never been easier. Hefty service fees from major crowdfunding sites can really cut into all of the hard work and needed funds. A common misconception is that simply having a presence on major crowdfunding sites will give your cause exposure thus finding brand new donors. How many people do you know go to crowdfunding sites to donate to random projects? The truth is that the people who make donations will be in your circle of contacts. This is why often times it is better to create a simple web page using a free site builder like WordPress to explain your story and why you need funds. Many people simply start a Facebook page for this purpose. Then people can donate to your cause directly helping you avoid costly service fees. Many participants fundraising to travel with Up with People simply have supporters make payments directly to their program fee on Up with People’s website, thus avoiding 3rd party service fees as well.
Steps to Run a Successful Online Fundraiser
No matter how you decide to raise money online there are some best practices that you should follow. These best practices will give you the best chance to raise the much needed funds for your cause.
1.) Tell A Great Story – Why should someone donate? Empathy is a powerful tool and on your project page you must quickly explain why you need donations. What does that money actually do? Videos are a powerful tool and we recommend always using a video on any online fundraising page. The video doesn’t have to be perfect or professionally produced with lots of bells and whistles, it just has to tell your story. Keep it under 2 minutes if you can and get to the point quickly.
2.) Show Progress – One great thing about the major crowdfunding platforms and perhaps why they are so popular is that they clearly show how much you have raised and the goal. You must set a goal and show it to the world. This helps supporters see your progress and makes them more likely to give a little bit more if they can see how much it will help in the big picture. People naturally want to help you reach that goal.
3.) Social Media Is Required – As we mentioned before, most of your donors will come from your inner circle and there is no better way to reach them quickly than with social media. Once you have decided on a platform, blast out your page to everyone you know and ask supporters to share it with their own networks. It is also best practice to ask people to share your page after they have donated.
4.) A Thank You Gift – Offering something as a thank you doesn’t have to cost you a thing but it can be a powerful tool in raising funds. If you are raising funds for study abroad, could you promise your donors a digital recipe book from dishes you loved while living with your host family abroad? Could you simply promise a postcard from abroad? Coming up with creative ways to thank your supporters can be a great way to boost funds.
5.) Donate Now Button – You would be surprised how often we see this forgotten on participant run online fundraising campaigns. It seems obvious but if there is no “Donate Now” button on whatever page you send your supporters, you are making it difficult and confusing for people and potentially losing money.
6.) Set A Deadline – Nothing kills donations more than when your supporters say to themselves, “Oh I’ll do that tomorrow.” Set a deadline for donations and remind people of this deadline in your social media posts and on your fundraising page.
In the end you want to make the process for your supporters as easy as possible. Online fundraising can be a powerful tool in your quest to raise funds and using at least some of these best practices will help ensure your campaign pays off.