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September 10, 2020; Trussville Tribune

In hard times like our own, nonprofits that have been communicating transparently, nurturing relationships with donors, and making the most of technology often have the most auspicious foundation to weather a crisis. For example, donation-based Comfort Café started its digital fundraising in mid-July to continue its mission of helping those recovering from drug dependency, as shared in the San Antonio Current. The restaurant operates in a pay-what-you-can capacity, funding addiction recovery center Serenity Star’s mission of providing transformational programs for people on the road to recovery. As shared in the campaign description:

COVID has severely limited our ability to fundraise through our two restaurants, which is what keeps Serenity Star accessible to those in need. During these times, our cafés have been closed, limited to curbside/takeout, and only open at a very limited capacity to do our part to keep our communities safe.

Since launch, the organization has raised over $16,000, which is 75 percent of their goal.

Online fundraising has proven to help many nonprofits during this time as it removes traditional barriers to asking for support. Crowdfunding can be an effective means for small nonprofits to raise donations through friends, family, customers, and individual investors. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.

The Lyric Theatre and Alabama Theatre, which both earn 90 percent of their operating budget by hosting events, recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe to survive the upcoming months. Since its launch on Monday, September 7, 2020, the campaign has raised over $55,000 in six days, more than 10 percent of its goal.

GoFundMe is one of the best-known crowdfunding sites for nonprofits. It suggests fundraising tips and ideas so nonprofits can maximize results and offers specific services to nonprofits such as data and reporting. (One such tip is to boost your crowdfunding success rate, increase your promotions on Fridays—the most popular day for GoFundMe donations.)

Other platforms crowdfunding nonprofits can consider include:

  • MobileCause offers a variety of methods for fundraising, from text-to-donate and online giving to mobile messaging, live event thermometers, peer-to-peer pages, volunteer signups, etc.
  • Fundly allows nonprofits to customize by adding logos, a background image, custom colors, and more to make their campaign unique.
  • Bonfire allows charities to design shirts and spread the word about the sale. Once orders are printed and shipped to supporters, the charity gets the profit.
  • Snowball offers a complete suite of fundraising software that works to maximize revenue for any cause. The platform features online donation pages, fundraising thermometers, text-to-give services, and more.
  • 99Pledges automatically gives each participant in a nonprofit’s campaign a donation page to share with friends, family, and followers over email and on social media.
  • DonateKindly is a free donation tool designed for organizations with a small staff that don’t have a huge technology budget. Features include multi-user permissions, the ability to create unlimited donation widgets, and donation reporting.

Although there is no magic formula for running a digital campaign, the most important thing a nonprofit can do is create a compelling fundraiser and build a community that emphasizes their cause. Crowdfunding platforms make it easier for organizations of any size to make the most of technology during and after the pandemic, connect and maintain communication with supporters, and retain donors by continuously engaging and nurturing relationships.—Deidre Fraser