helped Trinity Grace Church raise $30,000 in 30 days to construct a new parish in New York City. helped Trinity Grace Church raise $30,000 in 30 days to construct a new parish in New York City. has so far raised $24,170 toward a $75,000 campaign goal for Face Off Against Breast Cancer. raised $103,880 for Peace and Paws for a new adoption center for homeless pups.

Crowdfunding (CF) is a new tool not-for-profit organizations can use to fund specific projects to help them achieve their goals and support their missions. While not every project will have the same results, CF online platforms such as Causevox, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GiveForward estimate that more than 60 percent of successfully funded CF projects raised between $1,000 and $10,000.


CF platform projects can serve as a great source of supplemental income for any type of business entity, individual, or not-for-profit organization. According to The Nonprofit Times, CF raised more than $5 billion in 2013, with 30 percent of those funds supporting charitable organizations. This type of donation-based funding focuses on attracting smaller contributions from the masses, rather than a large contribution by one donor. Some fundraising campaigns may also attract attention from the media, which could further increase the organization's public image and reputation.

CF allows for greater reach to donors beyond the organization's location, thus preventing overreliance on one geographic region. There are also less maintenance time and costs associated with CF when compared to social networking sites. Unlike social media, which requires new content to attract viewers, CF only involves creating a fundraising page. Social media can be used to further promote the fundraising page.


The cost structure is an important factor to consider before starting a campaign. There are primarily two types of structures:

  • Fixed (all-or-nothing): If the organization does not meet the self-established monetary goal, all funds are returned to each contributor and no costs are incurred. If successful, the average commission for the platforms is five percent of total funds raised, plus credit card processing fees that will be deducted directly from the donations.
  • Flex: All contributions made are provided to the organization, even if they do not meet the established monetary goal. If successful, the fundraiser may pay seven percent in fees, versus 10.75 percent for an unsuccessful campaign. Some platforms only permit flex funding for 501(c)(3) organizations.

Most platforms do not charge upfront costs to create the page. In some cases, an annual fee in the range of $500 per year may apply. Therefore, it is important to perform due diligence before choosing a CF platform. Research the platforms and read pricing terms and conditions related to the website you are considering for your fundraising project.

Campaign Strategy

This new kind of fundraising requires a new kind of strategy. Unlike donations made directly to an organization's website, CF platforms enable potential donors to browse causes they support and focus their contributions on entities with mutual interests. This means charitable organizations need to present their campaign in a way that will draw interest. For example, requesting funding for specific supplies to support or create a new program will be more likely to receive funding than those that just want money for continued operations; when donors understand exactly how their money will be spent, they often develop a deeper relationship with the organization. This can lead to additional contributions to future projects.

To make the most of CF, you need realistic goals, a champion to lead the campaign, volunteers to help solicit donations, and people to contribute.

CF is still gaining in popularity and shows no signs of slowing down. Consider that this wave is just beginning to form - according to Giving USA, 72 percent of the $336 billion in giving in 2013 came from individuals. The low cost, low maintenance, and ease of use figure to feed into the increasing popularity of CF.

For organizations, this is an exciting new way to fund projects and accomplish goals that might not have been possible just by focusing on local donors.

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