By: Ray Souder, Innovative NonProfit 9/17/12
When you’re running a nonprofit, it can sometimes feel like you’re spending 98% of your time begging for money. And nothing zaps the fun out of your online marketing efforts faster than asking people to do stuff: click this link, take this survey, give me your email address, Like me, follow me….ugh! Before you know it, your enthusiasm to grow your NPO has morphed your social media platforms into an army of relentless nagging-machines. But you need to raise money, right? So what’s a savvy nonprofit to do?
Take a lesson from Kickstarter. This interactive fundraising website is specifically geared toward raising awareness for individual creative projects. While it explicitly prohibits the kind of ongoing fundraising essential to all nonprofits, NPOs can benefit from adopting Kickstarter’s tricks of the trade in terms of marketing, publicity, and campaigning.
Put a Clock on it
Kickstarter projects only have a certain amount of time to raise money for their project, usually one to two months. This creates a sense of urgency, both for those doing the fundraising and those being asked to contribute. Time limits raise the campaign stakes, and encourage people to give while they still can. This tactic is a psychological gem that should be used in every fundraising campaign your NPO conducts. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but the less time, the better! People are more likely to give if their only chance to do so is right now.
Take a Risk
If a Kickstarter campaign fails to meet its financial goal by the specified date, it walks away with – get this – absolutely nothing. That’s right – Kickstarter fundraisers go big or go home, and risk losing everything they raise when they sign up. So why would anyone work so hard to make $0? The same reason game show contestants put it all on the line – for the chance to win big! Kickstarter has a strong sense of the theatrical, and the risk of losing every penny raised is a strong incentive for fans and supporters to continue to give until the goal is met. People begin to feel responsible for and connected to your cause, and want to ensure that the money they’ve given you is put to good use. They are thus more inclined to spread the word to friends and family in an effort to help save your campaign from oblivion.
The reason Kickstarter isn’t available to nonprofits is the same reason it’s so successful. Kickstarter forces creatives to get hyper specific about what they’re doing, how their funds will be used, and why their particular project is so great. NPOs should follow suit. Instead of a generalized campaign that benefits your organization as a whole, create campaigns designed specifically for a single event or cause within your organization. People are much more likely to give when they can see exactly where their money is going.
While you can’t start an official Kickstarter campaign for your NPO (at least not yet!), your nonprofit can benefit from the great fundraising ideas that Kickstarter has created. Happy campaigning!