How To Start A Fundraiser Online In 6 Simple Steps

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Farzad Rashidi

The best thing about fundraising is that anyone can do it.

However, in order to make the most of it, you have to take the best route to create and promote your fundraising campaign. This includes defining clear goals, using the best fundraising platforms, using the right strategies and promoting your campaign through the best channels.

While this may seem like an overwhelming amount of factors to account for, we've created a simple 6-step plan to ensure that your next campaign will be a success.

Let’s get right into it.

Step #1: Define Your Fundraising Goals

Before you kick off your campaigns, you'll need to define your fundraising goals.

This will allow you to come up with fundraising ideas that align perfectly with your fundraising goals.

Some of the most important fundraising goals you should be thinking about are the following:

  1. Raise a specific amount of money
  2. Secure new donors and recruit supporters that will help you reach your goals
  3. Create and expand fundraiser awareness
Defining your goals like the ones listed above will help you stay on track for what your fundraising is really about and where you want to take it.

Below, you can see how the first goal in relation to raising funds has been defined and set for a current Kickstarter fundraising campaign.

Image Source: Kickstarter

Additionally, what your goals might be will depend on the nature of your fundraiser. Is it a personal fundraiser or a fundraiser for a local business?

Always remember that your goals are affected by the industry you're in and/or the product you're aiming to launch.

The image below comes from another current Kickstarter fundraising campaign and it’s a great example of how a company is fulfilling the third goal mentioned above.

Image Source: Kickstarter

The company’s fundraising activities, such as the video interview depicted above, are a great way to give potential supporters the opportunity to get to know the project better, thus making it more likely for them to engage with it and support it.

When discussing fundraising goals, it's helpful to focus on financial goals as well as goals in terms of the numbers of supporters that you want to reach. It’s absolutely necessary for you to know and understand the nature and specificity of your monetary goals before you start to raise funds.

Having a clear idea of your financial goals and target audience from the beginning will give a good definition of a rather big part of your fundraising activity and strategy.

In other words, knowing this and setting up your fundraiser goals accordingly will form the basis of your online fundraiser.

Ultimately, it will help you gain confidence in your future steps in terms of your fundraising efforts.

When it comes to monetary goals, it’s extremely important that you try to set as realistic a goal as possible.

You don’t want to start big and be unrealistic in terms of your financial goals.

Why?

Because that could lead to disappointment, which can be a very unpleasant feeling and affect you and/or your organization in terms of motivation.

Here are some recommendations for goal-setting that are based on the size of your non-profit:

Image Source: Givegab

The numbers above mean that the number of employees of an organization work as proof of a company’s reach and therefore defines the goals that such a company should be setting.

In more detail, for smaller non-profit organizations that employ around 10 employees, a goal of around $ 2,500 could be a realistic and achievable one.

Similarly, for a large non-profit organization with five times the employees as a small one, the goal can go as high as $ 25,000.

In a few words, your company’s profit is a great guide in terms of helping you set realistic financial goals.

The same applies to the number of potential donors.

In regards to the number of the people that might be supporting you, again make sure that the numbers are as close to reality as possible.

To clarify, start small - without losing your confidence! - set goals that reflect on the reality of your audience and your company’s reach, and be sure that you won’t have to deal with disappointment and negativity.

Step #2: Choose Your Online Fundraising Platform

When starting your fundraising activity, few steps are as important as choosing the online fundraising platform that will best host your fundraising campaign.

To help you make this decision, we've compiled a list of the most prominent fundraising online platforms.

1. Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a platform that supports creative projects where the creators of the projects are entirely responsible for creating the fundraiser, setting the project's monetary goals, and deadlines.

Image Source: Kickstarter

Here are some pros and cons of the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter:

  • Great for creative projects related to music, art, film, technology, comics, journalism projects, etc.
  • Funding is all or nothing so you have to be extremely accurate when setting your financial goals. If you fail to reach your monetary goal, you won’t get any funding.

Website: Kickstarter

Monthly Traffic (Ahrefs): 3.2 million

Branded Monthly Searches in the US (Ahrefs): 669,000

2. GoFundMe (formerly CrowdRise)

Well-known crowdfunding platform GoFundMe is designed for individuals and personal fundraising pages. The platform doesn’t necessarily focus on creative projects.

Image Source: GoFundMe

Below, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of GoFundMe to consider:

  • For many fundraising campaign organizers the platform is free to use whilst fees for others are reasonable. Also, the platform seems to make it easy for creators to withdraw immediately while deposits take 2-5 business days.
  • There has been reported to be a problem with raising funds when one’s social network is not very expansive, thus making it slightly less possible for potential supporters to find the fundraising page.

Website: GoFundMe

Monthly Traffic (Ahrefs): 1.9 million

Branded Monthly Searches in the US (Ahrefs): 734,000

3. Indiegogo

Indiegogo is quite a special platform that hosts a number of diverse fundraising campaigns. It’s an international crowdfunding site where imagination in terms of the projects’ topics is promoted.

Image Source: Indiegogo

Some of the highlights and disadvantages of Indiegogo include:

  • The company offers so-called flexible funding. In other words, you get to keep all your funds even in the unfortunate case your campaign doesn’t meet your initial objectives. *However, the processing fees might be higher than when the goal is achieved.
  • The platform is not as well-known as the other platforms mentioned above thus making it more difficult to establish a supportive community around your fundraising campaign.

Website: Indiegogo

Monthly Traffic (Ahrefs): 985,000

Branded Monthly Searches in the US (Ahrefs): 156,000

4. Fundly

Fundly is one of the best fundraising sites when it comes to non-profit organizations fundraising, charities, and schools whilst being a good choice for a personal fundraising page as well.

Image Source: Fundly

The great thing about Fundly is:

  • The user interface is nice and simple. The platform makes it easy for campaign creators to manage their campaigns and publish visual content that’s going to make their campaigns more compelling.
  • However, the platform is reported to not provide a donor guarantee policy for fraud protection, which can make backers trust the platform less.

Website: Fundly

Monthly Traffic (Ahrefs): 65.3K

Branded Monthly Searches in the US (Ahrefs): 15,000

5. Paperform

Another great choice for hosting a fundraiser online is none other than Paperform! With the ability to fully customize forms, including for taking donations, Paperform can be a great choice for fundraising. Paperform’s easy-to-use form builder is a great option for taking payments, getting donor information and more.

You can create your landing form from scratch or use one of the available templates.

The decision about what platform to choose may also be affected by factors such as how popular a specific platform is in your target country.

Below, you can find some graphs that give data on platform popularity across the world.

Image Source: Google Trends

In the following graph, you can see a breakdown of how the interest for each of the platforms we’ve looked at by region.

Image Source: Google Trends

If your platform of choice isn’t popular in your country, then you should simply look for another one.

The choice, however, should be based on many factors and not just on the popularity of the platform.

Let’s now get deeper into how you can, and why you should, define your fundraising strategy.

Step #3: Define Your Fundraising Strategy

Next, you'll need to define your fundraising strategy.

In other words, you'll need to answer some basic questions in relation to your fundraiser that will help you set your fundraising strategy, in the same way you defined your fundraising goals as we discussed earlier.

Here are some of the steps a fundraising strategy should involve:

  1. Appoint a fundraising coordinator.
  2. Set your parameters and outline your goals.
  3. Identify the methods that you’re going to use to raise money. To clarify, one of the first questions that you might find useful to answer in relation to defining your fundraising strategy is how are you going to raise money?

That may seem like a simple question, but the answer to this is basically the basis of your entire fundraising strategy.

  1. Identify the online fundraising platform that’s the most appropriate for your needs.
  2. After you’ve chosen the online fundraising platform that you’re going to use, you might also want to think about how you’re going to leverage this platform.

Put another way, what other channels and content formats are you going to use to promote your idea?

  1. Monitor the situation and make sure that all your fundraising efforts are working according to plan. If you notice that something isn’t right, try to understand why and then make it work.
  2. Give back to all your donors and supporters and say thanks. We will elaborate more on this point later in this post.

The specialities of today’s world and the focus on digital means and activities indicates that a rather big part of your strategy is going to be happening online.

Given current situations like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s better for business fundraisers as well as fundraisers for personal causes to use digital means.

Based on this, you need to come up with a fundraising strategy that will mostly involve online fundraising activities.

This fundraiser project plan template is a great way to plan out your fundraising event and ensure everything goes smoothly.

Image Source: Visme

Below, you can see how some online fundraising events are presented.

Image Source: Visme

Now let’s focus on the look of the content that you publish online in relation to your fundraising campaign in the next step.

Step #4: Promote Your Fundraising Campaign

This step is about promoting your fundraising campaign and it’s a crucial part of your fundraising activity.

You want your fundraiser to get noticed and be set for success.

For that reason, make sure that you’re using as many channels and online platforms to promote your fundraiser as possible.

For example, you might want to use video content to promote your fundraiser.

In that case, a video monetization platform, such as Uscreen, can be used to help you achieve your goal and raise awareness on your fundraising activities.

Image Source: Uscreen

Another idea might be to use email marketing services thus promoting your fundraiser through email and reaching out to people that would be interested in your fundraising idea.

The image that follows includes some of the services that you might want to consider:

Image Source: Moosend

You might also consider creating and distributing press releases to get the word out even more.

In general, when it comes to raising money and promoting your fundraising campaign, it’s important that you get creative.

This means that you should try to use as many channels as possible to promote your fundraiser.

Alongside video and email marketing services that I’ve gone through above, you might find it useful to use chatbots that will inform visitors to your fundraising page, or another website you may have, about the details of your campaign and answer any questions potential donors and supporters might have.

A welcome new visitors chatbot, as highlighted in the image below, could be a good place to start.

However, you can always create your own, custom bot.

Image Source: Tidio

Potential supporters will love talking to a bot about your idea!

What you should also keep in mind when promoting your fundraiser online is the look of your visuals.

As with any kind of content that gets posted on social media and other online platforms, you should try to make it as compelling, well-made, and beautiful as possible.

The most funded projects on Kickstarter can be an inspiration for how ideas that started as online fundraising campaigns were turned into a success.

Image Source: Kickstarter

The most-funded ever Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, that we will be discussing in more detail later in this post, made some great steps in terms of project promotion.

This blog post on how Pebble Sold A Million Watches With Word-Of-Mouth explains the company’s marketing strategy and its effectiveness.

One of the simplest ways they used to promote their idea online was via their social media platforms.

Image Source: ReferralCandy

Although this may seem like a simple way, it’s actually a very effective and engaging one.

In this case, it totally worked.

Now that we’ve talked about how you can promote your fundraising campaign, we’re moving on to the next step.

Step #5: Give Back To Your Supporters & Donors

The second to last step is about giving back.

Giving back to your supporters and donors is essential.

When it comes to a successful fundraiser, you shouldn’t forget that your donors and people who are backing you up, your loved ones and family members included, are, in a way, your team in terms of helping you raise awareness and reach your financial goals.

An example will make this a bit more clear.

As I already went through in the previous section, the most successful Kickstarter fundraising campaign ever has been Pebble Time smartwatches.

The project is the most-funded Kickstarter project; they managed to acquire more than $20,300,000 and the company shipped over 2 billion Pebble smartwatches around the world.

Impressive, isn’t it?

Part of their success was formed by the fact that they were providing their backers with promotions and special offers depending on their pledge.

More specifically, they were giving different options to their backers to choose from; there was a variety of smartwatches depending on the money they had paid to support the crowdfunding campaign.

The screenshot below shows some of these options.

Image Source: Kickstarter

And some more options that gave the backers the opportunity to get more products with a higher pledge:

Image Source: Kickstarter

A special reward that the fundraiser provided to supporters of the fundraising campaign was the following:

Image Source: Kickstarter

Offering personalized engraving on the watches as a ‘thank you’ to all the people that support their project is a clever marketing idea simply because everyone loves personalized objects.

Additionally, it shows appreciation for all the help and support and proves that the company values their supporters as an essential part of the success of the campaign.

To sum up, depending on the nature of your campaign and fundraising events, you should consider offering rewards for your supporters.

It doesn’t have to be something elaborate.

Personalized t-shirts could also work in terms of expressing your appreciation to your backers and creating a successful peer fundraising campaign.

As simple as that.

Step #6: Deliver On Your Promises

This last step mostly applies to companies and non-profit organizations that go into crowdfunding in order to achieve some financial goals and bring to life their business projects.

More than a step, this section is also a tip in relation to your brand’s or institution’s credibility and popularity.

Let’s say that you’ve completed your fundraising campaign and it’s been a successful one.

Great!

Now, you should remember that you’ve started your fundraising efforts for a specific reason; the fact that you’ve managed to raise funds gives you the opportunity to make your ideas come to life.

Simply put, build what you’ve promised and deliver on your promises.

Building what you’ve promised is something you owe to yourself and your team for running a successful fundraiser, which is no easy task.

You also owe this to your backers and all the people that believed in your idea and pledged to it.

Building what you initially went for and bringing your fundraiser idea to life will establish a relationship of credibility with your audience thus making people more likely to trust you and support your future fundraising efforts.

Additionally, this will give you the opportunity to create a strong community that believes in your products and/or services, therefore making it possible for the community to engage with you online, such as on your social media platforms and elsewhere.

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve broken down how you can start an online fundraiser in six simple steps.

You shouldn’t forget the importance of choosing the best and most appropriate online fundraising platform that will help you cover your needs, achieve your goals, and reach your financial targets.

Additionally, the promotion of your fundraising campaign should be a step that you pay attention to.

Last but not least, give back to your supporters because that will make your fundraiser successful, and don’t forget to deliver on your promises and build what you’ve promised.

Be effective and creative with your campaign - you can make it happen.

Good luck!


Farzad Rashidi is the co-founder of Respona, and he also runs the marketing efforts at Visme, where he helped the company gain over 5 million users and pass 1.5M monthly organic traffic.

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