Timing is the key to success for any nonprofit fundraising project. It is proven that projects that accelerate more rapidly early on and attain a significant percentage of their funding goal in a short time span often attract more attention as a whole over the life of the project. Additionally, about 25 to 40 percent of initial funding for successful projects typically comes from people they know. So, the earlier you can start generating buzz within your inner circle, the better!
There are four stages to a nonprofit crowdfunding timeline – Plan, Soft Launch, External Engagement and Update. Because Gladitood does not restrict your project to a 30- or 45-day deadline, these four stages may vary in length. Additional factors can include the buy-in of your organization, goal amount, and the date in which the funds are needed to complete your initiative.
Stage 1: Plan
Start preparing as soon as possible! There are many components that go together to form a successful crowdfunding project. By planning early you ensure that your entire team is in on the same page prior to the project’s launch and that your marketing pieces are developed, approved and ready to go. Deliverables include:
- Set the Project Deadline and Funding Goals
- Collect High Resolution Photos
- Create a Video
- Write Your Story
- Draft Emails and Newsletters
- Establish Social Media Campaign
- Develop a Press Strategy
Step 2: Soft Launch
Rally the troops! The soft launch is a very personal phase in which you recruit your core supporters. It is a chance to socialize your crowdfunding project with your inner circle and secure the initial 30 percent of donations before promoting it to the general public. Use tactics such as personal emails and phone calls to reach your family, friends, board, past donors and partner organizations. Targeted messaging to make each person feel a part of and invested in your project will help transform these supporters into your promotional blow horns.
Step 3: External Engagement
Once your organization reaches 30 percent of its funding goal, it is time to officially launch the project to the masses and put all of those deliverables that you created in the planning stage to use. Media exposure, social media, newsletters and direct mail campaigns are just a few examples of ways to get the word out about your project. For an in-depth look at how to market your online fundraising project, click here (link to marketing resource page). There's no reason to wait until the end of your time frame to intensify your efforts, so continue to actively promote the campaign during its entire duration. You can always raise more than your goal if you reach it early. A few things to remember:
- Stay clear of holidays that may disrupt your momentum or align the launch with a special day that can bring an added incentive to give, such as World Water Day, Giving Tuesday or Earth Day.
- December is historically the month with the highest percentage of donations with 30 percent of annual giving.
- Donations typically peak on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Step 4: Update
Once the project reaches its funding and volunteer goals, it is important to send your supporters regular updates on the progress of your mission, stories about people who have been helped, and plans for the future. Doing so can turn a one-time backer into a lifetime advocate of your nonprofit.