The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a powerful tool for nonprofit organizations to raise funds and engage supporters in the digital age. By leveraging the reach and accessibility of online platforms, nonprofits can tap into the collective power of individual donors to fund their missions and make a greater impact in their communities. 

Whether you’re a seasoned fundraiser or new to the world of online giving, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools you need to harness the potential of crowdfunding and take your nonprofit’s fundraising efforts to the next level.

What Is Nonprofit Crowdfunding?

Nonprofit crowdfunding is a way for organizations to raise money from a large number of people. It’s like asking a big crowd of people to each give a little bit of money to help support a cause they care about. This type of nonprofit fundraising has been around for a while, but it’s become even more popular with the internet and social media.

Crowdfunding works by setting a fundraising goal and then promoting the campaign through various online channels. Supporters can then make donations, often in exchange for rewards or recognition. The idea is that many small donations can add up to a significant amount of money to fund the nonprofit’s work.

Benefits & Challenges of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding offers many benefits for nonprofits, but there are also some challenges to be aware of. Understanding both the advantages and potential drawbacks can help organizations decide if crowdfunding is right for them and plan for a successful campaign.


  • Helps the organization reach a wider audience of potential donors
  • Nonprofits can raise funds quickly for specific projects or causes
  • It is a cost-effective way to fundraise with little upfront costs
  • Builds engagement and connection with supporters


  • Standing out among many other crowdfunding campaigns can be difficult
  • Requires strong marketing and storytelling to succeed
  • Some platforms charge fees on donations received

How Nonprofit Crowdfunding Works

Nonprofit crowdfunding is a method of raising funds online by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people. It typically involves setting up a campaign on a dedicated crowdfunding platform, where supporters can make donations using credit cards, debit cards, or other online payment methods.

Common Uses of Nonprofit Crowdfunding

Nonprofits use crowdfunding for a variety of purposes, from funding specific programs to supporting general operations. Some common uses include:

  • Funding a new program or initiative
  • Raising money for a particular event or campaign
  • Supporting ongoing operational costs
  • Collecting donations for emergency relief efforts

No matter what the specific use case, the key is to have a clear and compelling reason for running the crowdfunding campaign. Donors want to know exactly what their money will be used for and how it will make an impact.

Length of Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns

To start a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign, organizations create a compelling fundraising page that tells their story, explains their cause, and sets a specific fundraising goal. Campaigns can run for varying lengths of time, but most range from 30 to 60 days. The ideal campaign duration depends on factors such as the fundraising goal, the size of the organization’s existing supporter base, and the campaign’s promotional strategy.

Cost of Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaigns 

The cost of running a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign varies depending on the platform used and the specific features required. Most platforms charge a platform fee, which is a percentage of the total funds raised, typically ranging from 5% to 10%. Additionally, payment processing fees, usually around 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, are deducted from each donation. Some platforms may offer additional features or services for an extra cost, such as dedicated support, advanced analytics, or promotional tools.

Receiving Crowdfunding Payments

When supporters make a donation to a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign, the funds are typically processed by the crowdfunding platform and held until the end of the campaign or until a predetermined payout schedule. Platforms may distribute funds to the nonprofit on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis, or they may wait until the campaign has ended to release the full amount. The specific payout terms vary by platform, so it’s essential for nonprofits to understand and plan for the payment processing timeline.

How to Run a Successful Nonprofit Crowdfunding Campaign

Running a successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaign requires careful planning, execution, and engagement. By following these key steps, you can set your campaign up for success and maximize your fundraising potential. 

1. Plan and Prepare

A successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaign starts with thorough planning and preparation. This crucial stage sets the foundation for the entire campaign and can make the difference between success and failure.

To begin, define your fundraising goal, choose a suitable crowdfunding platform, and craft a compelling campaign story. Consider offering rewards or recognition for different contribution levels to incentivize donations. Prepare all the necessary assets and materials, such as images, videos, and copy, before launching your campaign.

  • Define your fundraising goal and timeline
  • Choose a crowdfunding platform that fits your needs
  • Craft a compelling campaign story and messaging
  • Offer rewards or recognition for different donation levels
  • Prepare campaign assets, including images, videos, and copy

2. Make Legal and Ethical Considerations

When running a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign, it’s essential to be aware of and comply with all relevant legal and ethical guidelines. Failing to do so can result in serious consequences for your organization.

Research applicable laws and regulations related to fundraising and charitable solicitation in your area. Be transparent about how funds will be used and provide regular updates on your progress. Have a plan for tracking and reporting on the use of funds, and ensure the privacy and security of your donors’ personal information.

  • Research applicable laws and regulations for fundraising
  • Understand tax implications for your organization and donors
  • Be transparent about how funds will be used
  • Have a plan for tracking and reporting on the use of funds
  • Prioritize donor privacy and security

3. Develop Strong Marketing Strategies

Effective marketing is essential for reaching and engaging potential donors during your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign. A well-planned, multi-channel marketing strategy can help you build momentum, drive donations, and ultimately reach your fundraising goals.

Create a dedicated campaign landing page on your website and leverage all of your existing online channels, including social media and email, to promote the campaign. Develop a content calendar with a mix of storytelling, impact highlights, and direct donation appeals. Consider influencer outreach and paid advertising to expand your campaign’s reach.

  • Create a dedicated campaign landing page
  • Leverage existing online channels (website, email, social media)
  • Develop a content calendar with a mix of storytelling and appeals
  • Utilize influencer outreach and paid advertising
  • Make it easy for supporters to share and promote your campaign

4. Engage With Donors and Supporters

Your nonprofit crowdfunding campaign is an opportunity to build deeper relationships with your supporters. Engaging donors throughout the campaign can lead to long-term support and advocacy for your cause.

Make the donation process simple and user-friendly, and promptly acknowledge every contribution with a personalized thank-you message. Keep donors engaged by providing regular updates on your progress and encouraging them to get involved beyond just giving money. Celebrate and acknowledge your donors throughout the campaign and have a plan to continue cultivating relationships after the campaign ends.

  • Make the donation process simple and user-friendly
  • Promptly acknowledge every contribution with a thank-you
  • Provide regular updates on campaign progress
  • Encourage donors to get involved beyond giving money
  • Celebrate and acknowledge donors throughout the campaign
  • Have a plan to cultivate relationships after the campaign ends

Best Crowdfunding Platforms for Nonprofits

To run a successful campaign, you need to choose the right crowdfunding platform for your nonprofit. These are three of the top crowdfunding platforms used by nonprofits. 

1. GoFundMe: Best Crowdfunding Platform Overall

GoFundMe is one of the most popular and user-friendly crowdfunding platforms, making it a top choice for nonprofits of all sizes. With its intuitive interface, customizable campaign pages, and robust social sharing features, GoFundMe makes it easy to create and promote your fundraising campaign. The platform’s mobile-responsive design ensures that donors can easily contribute from any device, maximizing your potential reach and support. 

Key features include: 

  • User-friendly setup and interface
  • Easy social sharing features
  • Mobile-responsive design
  • Flexible fundraising options

2. CauseVox: Best Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Features

CauseVox is a powerful crowdfunding platform that specializes in peer-to-peer fundraising, making it an ideal choice for nonprofits looking to engage their supporters as fundraisers. The platform offers customizable campaign pages, team fundraising tools, and seamless integration with popular donor management systems. With CauseVox’s emphasis on storytelling and community-building, nonprofits can create compelling campaigns that inspire supporters to take action. 

Key features include:

  • Customizable campaign pages
  • Peer-to-peer and team fundraising tools
  • Donor management capabilities
  • Integrations with popular CRMs and payment processors

3. Fundly: Best for Event Fundraising

Fundly is a versatile crowdfunding platform that excels in event-based fundraising, offering a range of tools to help nonprofits plan, promote, and execute successful fundraising events. From customizable event pages and ticket sales to auction management and sponsorship features, Fundly provides an all-in-one solution for nonprofits looking to leverage events for their crowdfunding campaigns. 

Key features include: 

  • Event registration and ticketing
  • Auction management features
  • Sponsorship and affiliate fundraising options
  • Customizable event pages


Crowdfunding is a powerful tool for nonprofits to raise money and build support for their important work. By developing a compelling campaign, leveraging online tools, and engaging donors, your organization can successfully harness the power of the crowd.

The key is to start with a solid plan, choose the right platform, and execute your campaign with focus and transparency. With the strategies outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your nonprofit crowdfunding goals.

Remember, crowdfunding isn’t just about raising money – it’s about building a community of supporters who are passionate about your cause. Nurture those relationships and keep donors engaged beyond the campaign to develop a strong base of ongoing support. With the power of crowdfunding behind you, there’s no limit to the impact your nonprofit can achieve.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to run a crowdfunding campaign? 

Costs can vary depending on the platform and your specific needs. Many platforms charge a percentage-based platform fee as well as payment processing fees. Some have additional costs for things like advanced features or dedicated support. Be sure to factor in any internal costs for staff time, marketing expenses, etc.

How long should a crowdfunding campaign last?

Campaign length depends on your fundraising goals and audience. Typically, campaigns last anywhere from 30-60 days. Shorter campaigns create a sense of urgency, while longer ones allow more time to reach your target. Consider your goals, capacity, and promotional plans to determine the optimal length.

Can I offer tax deductions for crowdfunding donations? 

Tax deductibility depends on your organization’s status and the specific nature of the donations. In general, donations to registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits are tax-deductible for donors. However, if you’re offering rewards or perks in exchange for donations, that may affect deductibility. Consult with a tax professional for guidance.

What if my campaign doesn’t reach its goal? 

Many nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns use a flexible funding model, meaning you keep all funds raised even if you don’t hit your goal. However, it’s important to have a contingency plan and communicate with donors about how funds will be used if the goal isn’t met. If you’re using an all-or-nothing platform, have a backup plan to extend the campaign or adjust your goal if needed.

How do I receive the funds raised through crowdfunding?

Most crowdfunding platforms transfer funds to your bank account on a rolling basis (often weekly or monthly). Some may hold funds until the campaign ends and then initiate a transfer. Be sure you’re set up to receive funds in your country and currency. Understand the payout schedule and process so you can plan accordingly.

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