We all know the routine of old-school charities where someone knocks on the door, kindly asking for a donation. You might throw a few bucks into the collection bin, pat yourself on the back for being a good philanthropist and trust that the dolphins shall be rescued according to your generous contribution. Or … was it the kidney patients, oil spillages or abandoned pets instead?
More and more, non-profit organizations are finding their way towards crowdfunding platforms. Some even exclusively cater for social purposes: Causes, Buzzbnk, StartSomeGood, Crowdrise and Sosense Engagements to name a few. Crowdfunding is an attractive option for those looking to get donations – not only because spenders are easily reached from behind their laptops, phones and tablets, but also because it helps to create a solid community of engaged, enthusiastic and involved supporters. Traditionally, donations for charities are gathered into a large pile of money to be spent on an overall mission, after which the organization itself decides how to further allocate the money. On crowdfunding platforms, donators are given the opportunity to browse campaigns for specific causes that require money, pronto. For example, instead of donating a few coins towards worldwide animal wellbeing, philanthropists find themselves in the position to financially support the renovation of the animal rescue center around the corner. Or perhaps they can help pay for the local theater group’s next play, or help contribute to the tour of a kids’ orchestra in Paraguay.
Of course, donation-based crowdfunding is not only interesting for charity purposes: many donations have been spent on successful campaigns for music photography and theater projects as well. In any case, the opportunity to financially contribute to individual projects rather than supporting the elusive greater good for all, helps donators to feel more engaged with the cause. The success of crowdfunding campaigns depends on the support of an enthusiastic, emotionally involved network of donators. This sense of community is one of the unique characteristics that distinguishes crowdfunding donations from its traditional counterparts and is one of the reasons so many potential well-doers, big and small, turn to crowdfunding platforms. Creating and maintaining this sense of community is a two-way street, with a large role to play for the creators of the campaign.
Unlike in reward-based crowdfunding, supports of donation-based campaigns don’t expect anything in return for the money spent. The satisfaction of having contributed to a good cause is enough – philanthropy at its finest. However, part of the attraction of donating money towards a crowdfunding campaign lies in the opportunity for backers to stay closely in touch with the projects they support. Not only are donators excited to see how their money is being spent, they also expect to see tangible results of their contributions at some point. In this sense, keeping donators informed about and involved with the project is part of the reward that creators can offer their communities. A first step is to publish and send out the budget plan, perhaps in relation to a personal message to all donators. Also, consider sending out handcrafted thank-you cards, or arranging a Skype-talks with the crowdfunding-team. Recording short videos and sending out photos made on location are other quick, easy and effective ways to keep backers involved with the project.
This level of transparency is one of the unique points donation-based crowdfunding has to offer, both for instigators as for donators. Embracing such openness is not only a great way to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship with backers, the good rep may even get more backers for this campaign or the next one. All in all, crowdfunding offers exciting new opportunities for aspiring well-doers to get involved with projects of their liking, and to see them through until the world is a little better – one donation at a time.