More and more people and organizations are turning to crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, YouCaring, and GoFundMe to raise money for their cause. Many go unfunded. Other lose what was pledged when they don’t meet their goal. How do you get your cause to a) rise above the noise and b) ensure you get to keep what you fundraise?Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 10.53.25 AM

  • Choose your platform carefully. Not all crowdfunding sites are created equal. You don’t want to lose money if you don’t reach your goal, or have a significant cut taken off the top. (See our previous post for which crowdfunding platform is best for your cause.) Donors may be more likely to donate to a site that they are familiar with. Having a variety of payment options available helps too.
  • Plan ahead. While a crowdfunding platform can take some of the nitty-gritty work (transferring payments, keeping track of donations, etc), online fundraising takes work too. Don’t just set it up on a whim — make a video, write a good description, plan incentives and timing. Campaigns that start at the beginning of the week on a Monday or Tuesday tend to be more successful.
  • Set an achievable goal. Potential donors can feel overwhelmed if the target goal is too big. Set an ambitious but reasonable fundraising amount and remember that success is not just measured in money raised.
  • Set a deadline. Setting a deadline adds a sense of urgency and timeliness to your cause. Some platforms will let you extend if necessary (or indefinitely).
  • Spread the word. Share on your social networks and encourage others to do the same. Send out an email to your contacts. Contact the local press and see if they’ll do a story. Tell your co-workers, your softball team, your extended family, your church group, local businesses. The more people that see or hear about your cause, the more likely you are to reach your fundraising goal.
  • Offer incentives. Small thank-yous for donations such as pins, T-shirts, wristbands, stickers, or photos don’t have to be expensive (some, like social media mentions or thank-you notes, cost nothing) and can do a lot to encourage giving. People love to feel a part of something and appreciated. Plus, the gift can in turn spark conversation and more interest in your cause.
  • Don’t turn down small donors — they can add up! Some campaigns are funded entirely by donations of $25 or less. Every little bit helps.
  • Make a video. Just about every crowdfunding site reports higher donations for campaigns that have a video explaining the cause. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate production, but a quick explanation of the cause as well as seeing the faces behind it causes a human connection that makes potential donors more likely to give.
  • Aim for a third of your contributions in the first 24 hours. That initial bump will make your goal look achievable to potential donors and help spread the word as people share your cause.

For more tips and further reading on making crowdfunding successful, check out these best practices from RocketHub, Tilt, FirstGiving, GiveForward, YouCaring, and Indiegogo.