In this (fairly) new digital age, it is merely impossible to go on the Internet and not stumble across an individual or company reaching out for funding through a crowdsourcing platform.
Whether scrolling through our favorite websites, poking through business pages, or getting in our much-needed daily dose of social media (guilty!), we’ve all seen crowdfunding donation pages. But while we’re quick to pay attention to campaigns created by our friends or new businesses, we often overlook the impressive crowdsourcing efforts of nonprofit organizations.
While at a public relations firm, I worked firsthand with several nonprofits in order to strategically spread the word about their fundraising initiatives through media and within the online community. One of our clients, the YMCA of Greater Boston, demonstrated the power of crowdsourcing, especially when targeting the younger, digitally-savvy generations.
As part of their annual fundraising campaign leading up to the Boston Marathon, the YMCA of Greater Boston chose four runners to represent them during the race. Each participant was responsible for raising at least $7,500 to support the work of the Y and the thousands of teens positively impacted by the YMCA Teen Programs.
Let’s dig into how the YMCA leveraged digital channels and innovative fundraising practices to raise over $46,000 during their campaign.
People act from the heart rather than the head—even online!
Yes, it’s important to act as a good steward of donor money after the gift. However, during the “ask” itself, donors have to understand that what goes around will, in fact, come back around. To complete the cycle, you must clearly illustrate the impact they’ll be making when you ask for funding.
Below, you’ll see how the YMCA of Greater Boston directly called out which programs donors will be supporting on their CrowdRise and social pages. Rather than just stating the facts, they discussed the different programs and the benefits of these programs for the youth community. This transparency not only helped donors feel comfortable with giving, but also emphasized that, through investing in the YMCA, they would be investing in a better community for themselves, their neighbors, their friends, and even their children.
Sit down, kick back, relax and… DONATE (from the comfort of your own couch!)
In a Techcrunch article, Fred Wilson, one of the first to back the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, discussed the benefits of raising money through crowdsourcing:
“People are going to do a lot more donating because it’s going to be fast and easy. It’s going to take time for people to realize that these services are not only legitimate, they are the future.”
What made the YMCA of Greater Boston reach their fundraising goals was the idea that people no longer had to be in the room to volunteer. By refocusing their efforts online, they built a community of virtual volunteers who showed their support by spreading the word about the campaign around the web. People could get involved by giving from the comfort of their couch, sharing the CrowdRise page with friends, or checking up on the progress of the campaign at their convenience. Supporting the YMCA had never been easier!
“Hello Crowdsourcing, meet your new friend Social Media”
Okay, so now that we know a bit more about how to meet your audience online, how do you promote the campaign to as many people as possible? Simple: social media!
By updating their social profiles daily with image and video-heavy content, the YMCA created buzz about the campaign and engaged their followers. The majority of the content featured individuals who had been impacted by YMCA’s programming—a type of storytelling that was incredibly influential in deriving support from donors. Plus, since the Y’s social team used a dedicated hashtag (#RunYMCA), donors could get a play-by-play on the fundraiser by clicking on the hashtag.
By partaking in the popular 21st-century craze of social media, organizations such as the YMCA of Greater Boston are increasingly benefitting from online publicity and the ability to accept donations digitally. In fact, the biggest success they gain is from extending their network of connections into the digital world and developing a whole “crowd” of ambassadors involved in the campaign.
Whether it’s posting on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or even making a six-second Vine, there are endless ways to drive awareness of your fundraiser (and your brand) through social media.
The online word-of-mouth movement is here to stay! Remember, social media is your friend. Utilize the power of these platforms and you, too, will be able to reach, connect, and engage with a new audience you never even knew you had.
Want to see more crowdfunding in action? Check out how McGill University raised over $300k through crowdfunding.
Sara Perry is a fourth-year student at Northeastern University and is thrilled to join EverTrue’s Marketing team as an intern. A Communication Studies major and Business Administration minor, Sara has a wide array of experience in the marketing and communications field. Most recently, Sara interned at a Boston-based public relations firm with nonprofit clients, and is excited to delve deeper into serving nonprofits with EverTrue!