Tips and Tricks for Charitable Crowdfunding From the RNL ScaleFunder Team

Amanda RingoAugust 10, 2023

As summer comes to an end and a new fundraising year is upon us, it’s time to launch a new season of crowdfunding campaigns. For the past decade, crowdfunding has grown to become an incredible, social engine to engage donors for key causes, passions and impact areas on campuses and in nonprofit organizations. And crowdfunding can also be one of the most efficient parts of your toolkit to attract and retain donors if you do it right.

So, I gathered my friends on the RNL Scalefunder consulting team, and we assembled some key tips that we have found will help you save time and raise more money from our experience with hundreds of RNL partners on the platform.

Here are just a few of our key crowdfunding tips.

Save time by launching your charitable crowdfunding projects in cycles or cohorts

As your crowdfunding program grows, accepting crowdfunding applications on a rolling basis can make for some problems. Constantly being open to new projects can create a chaotic work schedule that overwhelms your calendar with meetings and training sessions, with projects in various stages of the campaign. This can be a big problem during busy times of the year such as end of calendar/fiscal year, your Giving Day, etc. And, when you don’t have a set crowdfunding cycle, we’ve found it can more often lead to applicants who show initial interest but do not follow through with the actual launch of the campaign.

Image: UCLA’s Spark crowdfunding engine, one of the pioneers, has been doing
crowdfunding cycles for years.

Creating a timeline for crowdfunding cycles will streamline the entire process to save you time, create a more successful crowdfunding program, and improve things like:

  • High Impact Crowdfunding Application promotion
  • Group training opportunities, saving time and maximizing resources
  • Synergy with content creation
  • Greater coaching opportunities for project owners
  • A better relationship with Advancement Services
  • Better marketing of all crowdfunding campaigns and cross-marketing of allied campaigns
  • Updates to donors and stewardship efforts after crowdfunding campaigns have ended

When you create crowdfunding seasons, cycles or whatever you decide to call them, everything just works better, and your campus or organization comes to expect that it’s “time to get the crowdfunding projects together.”

Image: HornRaiser at the University of Texas at Austin has a top notch crowdfunding cycle program.

Make it easy to give in less than a minute can raise more money with digital wallets

The benchmark today for “easy” giving is to allow donors to give in less than a minute. Digital wallet technology makes that not only easy to achieve, but also very cost-effective.

How does it work? Digital wallets reduce giving friction by allowing donors to use technology that’s already on their phone or tablet. They make giving easy, which is a crucial part of your crowdfunding success. You’ve already likely used a digital wallet whenever you’ve checked out on a device that’s saved a card or payment method like Apple Pay, Venmo, or PayPal.

And this technology doesn’t require that you set up separate accounts with these services. An integrated payment provider simply works with these services to process payment, which comes directly through your normal accounting process, at the same or even lower cost.

After adopting digital wallet technology, RNL partners see about a third of gifts instantly convert to new payment methods that can be completed in less than a minute.

Younger donors just love Venmo. In our research, we’ve found that while the average gift is lower for these donors, making giving easy can greatly boost participation results. Every crowdfunding project leader should carefully consider how easy it is to give, including how donors find the funds they support, as well as the ease of the “check out” process.

“One thing we’re tracking economically is the whole idea that younger donors ‘leave money in their Venmo.’ Okay, I know that makes me sound like an old guy. But, traditional donor psychology discussion is often one of sacrifice with giving. If you have technology that is asking young donors to send over discretionary money that they view as more for fun or leisure, you get right past the idea of sacrifice,” says Brian Gawor, RNL’s VP for Research.

He says that digital wallet actual could be changing the entire paradigm of charity for some donors who use their stored wallet cash. “Giving for these donors now is more of an experience, a form of participation and social belonging, much like sharing a tab for dinner. It’s awesome, and every organization should be on this social giving train.”

“When a donor shows up to give, you’ve already overcome a huge hurdle. You want to make it as painless and as quick as possible. In our last giving day, we had many comments like: ‘Can you include other forms of payment?’ So for us, it wasn’t about following trend, it was about a donor need. And it has made a difference.”

Sergio Lopez, Director of Annual Giving Strategies, Santa Clara University

When RNL partners adopt digital wallet, they immediately see about a third of gifts come in with low friction from these new sources. Providing an opportunity to give with the payment options already installed on a donor’s device is just great donor service. We can make giving easier and improve the donor experience with this easy to adopt technology. Ease of giving should be a top priority in your giving day experience, including digital wallet options like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Venmo.

RNL ScaleFunder comes with a platform and people, experts ready to help

Our philosophy at RNL is that you need both powerful technology and help to accomplish top notch donor engagement in today’s challenging environment. That’s why we combine the power of platforms and people when you invest in RNL ScaleFunder. If you’d like to find out more about how you can use these great tools, and get help along the way, contact us today for a demo, and we’ll share even more great tips to help propel your cause-driven engagement to the next level.

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Read More Blogs By: Amanda Ringo