Crowdfunding for Nonprofits: Finding the Right Platform for Your Organization

In simple terms, crowdfunding is setting up an online campaign page to raise money through donations from individuals. Crowdfunding for nonprofits can be especially powerful, because it engages potential donors with a more interactive experience and can make them feel invested in the success of the campaign. 

In order to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, it’s imperative to choose the right crowdfunding platform for your organization.

Crowdfunding Positives and Negatives

One huge advantage to crowdfunding for nonprofits is that it allows an organization to tell their story in detail, while interacting with their audience directly over the course of the campaign. Another advantage is that crowdfunding can be very lucrative, with crowdfunding raising an average of $9,237.55 per campaign. Most supporters are in the 24 – 35 year old age range and are 126% more likely to donate when a campaign engages with supporters.

In order to run a successful campaign crowdfunding for nonprofits, organizers are going to have to do their homework. Some important things to keep in mind are that:

  • Crowdfunding platforms charge fees. Some have additional fees if goals are not met, while some don’t allow donations to be collected by the organization if the goal is not met.
  • There are laws regulating nonprofit fundraising in most states that require organizations to register before soliciting donations, though most don’t specifically address the inter-state nature of crowdfunding.
  • Laws regarding charitable organizations and fundraising are not biased towards nonprofits, but organizations should be aware of their obligations.
  • Nonprofits in California should check if their crowdfunding platform is seen by the law as a Commercial Fundraiser (a corporation or person paid to raise money). If so, it must be registered with the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trust.
  • Most well-known crowdfunding platforms in California are not seen as Commercial Fundraisers, but it’s worth it to know when choosing a platform when crowdfunding for nonprofits.

Popular Platforms for Crowdfunding for Nonprofits

Some of the most popular crowdfunding platforms ring a bell, like Indiegogo and Kickstarter. These platforms have traditionally been focused on entrepreneurial ventures, especially in tech. While nonprofits can and do use these popular platforms for fundraising, there are also platforms specifically dedicated to crowdfunding for nonprofits. For this article, three popular nonprofit crowdfunding sites are showcased:

There are more platforms out there that cater to nonprofits, but these are the standouts and a great place to start. – The All-In-One

Classy has been around since 2011, and was formerly named StayClassy, a shout-out to the movie ‘Anchorman’ and it’s San Diego location. Originally born as a pub-crawl with friends to raise money for the American Cancer Society, it evolved into an online platform focused on helping nonprofits raise money and awareness. Currently it is a great all-in-one solution to crowdfunding for nonprofits that creates colorful, engaging campaign pages.

Platform Crowdfunding Features:

  • Different pricing plans designed to accommodate different size organizations.
  • User-friendly tools to build colorful campaigns that include text, images and video
  • Mobile-optimized campaign pages
  • Ability to interact with donors in real time
  • Branded emails, receipts, eCards for campaign donors
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising capability
  • Integration with MailChimp, Google Ads and Salesforce also offers tons of articles, tutorials and guides to help organizations create successful campaigns. There are also lots of testimonials and examples of past campaigns and their metrics. Curious potentials can either request a demo from Classy through their website, or can get started for free online by providing their EIN or Tax ID number. – For Design Customization

CauseVox is a standout in crowdfunding for nonprofits because they are user-friendly and offer a high degree of customization on their campaign pages, for both web designers and non-web savvy creators. Campaigns can be created using their drag and drop features, as well as created with custom code.

Platform Crowdfunding Features:

  • Free to get started and cancel anytime
  • Keep all donations raised, even if fundraising goals aren’t met
  • User-friendly tools to build colorful campaigns that include text, images and video
  • Branded campaigns, custom donation receipts
  • Responsive customer support and guidance
  • Supports peer-to-peer fundraising and event fundraising
  • Integration with social media, email, MailChimp, Salesforce and 1000+ other tools

CauseVox offers an extensive learning section including blog articles, books and guides, webinars, testimonials and a help center to assist nonprofits in creating successful crowdfunding campaigns. Additionally there is custom training and educational choices. A quick search on YouTube will also show current and past CauseVox videos created by both charitable organizations and individual advocates.

Pricing is categorized into Basic, Lite and Standard, each charging a platform and processor fees. Basic doesn’t have a monthly fee, but has the highest platform fee at 5%. Lite is $55 monthly and Standard is $139 monthly will all the bells and whistles. There is also a 14-day free trial for all plans with a monthly fee. – For Crowdfunding Newbies

Boasting the highest cause-driven crowdfunding success rates, takes what they call an “all-or-nothing” approach. This approach means that your organization doesn’t get paid unless your campaign reaches its goal. It sounds risky, but StartSomeGood stands behind this method and offers their success rate as proof.

Probably the main driving force behind the success of StartSomeGood’s crowdfunding campaigns is its personalized approach to customer guidance and support. Each campaign is assigned a “Launch Coach” who acts as a point of contact and works with the customer toward the success of the campaign. For crowdfunding newbies, this can help reduce the amount of uncertainty and stress that can come with launching a first-time crowdfunding campaign.

Platform Crowdfunding Features:

  • Responsive customer support and guidance, including a point person (or “Launch Coach”)
  • Premium support for an additional fee
  • “Crowdmatch” feature, which is a matched funding model supported by foundation, government and corporate partners.
  • A user-friendly interface
  • Campaign pages with clean, attractive presentation
  • Social Media integration

Like the other platforms, StartSomeGood offers a wealth of guides, videos and instructionals in it’s Crowdfunding Academy. Additionally, there is a free mini course to get new campaigns started, as well as a paid Masterclass through Udemy. Pricing is not available on the site. Instead, once the project is created by a customer (at no initial expense), it is submitted to the StartSomeGood team for review and a follow-up discussion.

Which Crowdfunding Platform Will You Choose?

While Classy, CauseVox and StartSomeGood are some examples of the best crowdfunding sites for nonprofits, there are more great options out there. The platform that will work best for an organization is dependent on its size, fundraising capabilities, technological prowess and resources. But no matter how all those variables coalesce, crowdfunding for nonprofits is a creative fundraising strategy that can reach new audiences and increase an organization’s fundraising capability.