The crowdfunding industry continues to grow and expand as a means of soliciting donations, product sales, and investment, so it’s only natural that nonprofit organizations are looking to get into the crowdfunding game. In taking advantage of a crowdfunding platform’s fundraising and social media tools, nonprofits can bring theirÂ message to a much wider (not to mention younger) swath of the population than would otherwise be possible.
However, it’s not a simple matter of picking from a list of interchangeable platforms and getting started. Not all crowdfunding websites are created equal. Some crowdfundersÂ are purely for creative/business projects and cannot be used for nonprofit fundraising, while other platforms specifically cater to the nonprofit market. Some platforms don’t let you collect the money you raise unless you hit yourÂ funding goal amount, while others let you keep whatever you raise regardless. Some platforms charge a percentage of what you raise as a fee (and some charge more if you fall short of your funding goal), while others charge a flat monthly fee to use their services. Some platforms facilitate the giving of rewards to your donors, while others do not.
Point being, your choice of a crowdfunding platform matters. We here at Merchant Maverick want to help you cut through the dizzying array of crowdfunding sites available by highlighting the crowdfundersÂ best suited for nonprofit fundraising.
A Warning Before You Begin
It’s vitally important that you familiarize yourself with the laws regulating nonprofit fundraising in the state or states in which you will be operating. You may well have to register your charitable nonprofit with the state before you begin soliciting donations. If you’re looking to crowdfund for your nonprofit and you’re confronting these questions for the first time, I recommend starting by checking out the information provided by the National Council of Nonprofits and going from there.
It’s easy to find yourself unwittingly running afoul of fundraising laws if you’re unaware of them, so take caution!
GoFundMe (see our review) is best known for hosting campaigns related to personal medical expenses and other tragedies. That’s what has propelled GoFundMe to become the world’s top crowdfunding platform in terms of dollars raised (more than 5 billion and counting). What’s less well known is that GoFundMe hosts nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns as well. On the subject of nonprofit campaigns (referred to as Certified Charity campaigns), GoFundMe states the following:
Certified Charity campaigns can be created by anyone, whether you’re a good samaritan wanting to support your favorite charity or an employee of a non-profit. A ‘Certified Charity‘ badge will appear on the campaign to give your cause an extra layer of verification.
Donations made to Charity campaigns are processed through PayPal Giving Fund, a 501(c)3 public charity (Federal Tax ID:Â 45-0931286). The Campaign Organizer doesn’t have to touch the money at all, and donors will automatically receive a tax-deductible receipt.
In order to launch a Certified Charity campaign, the outfit you’re fundraising for must be a 501(c)(3) US-based nonprofit organization. It must also be registered in PayPal Giving Fundâs database. If your 501(c)(3) nonprofit isn’t in this database, GoFundMe outlines how you can rectify that here. AndÂ if your nonprofit is based outside the US, GoFundMe asks you to contact them to discuss your options.
GoFundMe’s Certified Charity campaigns carry with them a 5% platform fee on the money raised. While GoFundMe eliminated their 5% platform fee for their US-based personal campaigns in late 2017 (and has subsequently expanded that policy to Canada and the UK), the platform fee still applies to nonprofit campaigns. Now, given the current trend in crowdfunding (and with GoFundMe in particular), I wouldn’t be surprised if GoFundMe eliminated the platform fee for its Certified Charity campaigns sometime in the future. For now, however, the 5% platform fee remains.
In addition to the platform fee, a 2.9% + $0.30 processing fee will apply to each donation made. Therefore, a total fee ofÂ 7.9% + $0.30 will be taken from each donation.
GoFundMe provides the followingÂ primerÂ for those interested in starting a crowdfunding campaign for a nonprofit organization. Check out our full GoFundMe review for more information.
YouCaring is another crowdfunding site specializing in personal and charitable fundraising campaigns. Having facilitated over $900 million in donations since its founding in 2011 — and having recently acquired Indiegogo’s charitable crowdfunding spinoff Generosity — YouCaring’s profile is rising as a cause-oriented crowdfunding platform. Thankfully for you, they host nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns as well as campaigns for individuals.
YouCaring has one big advantage going for it vis-Ã -vis GoFundMe. Unlike their larger competitor, YouCaring charges no platform fees to the crowdfunding campaigns it hosts,Â including nonprofit campaigns. That’s 5% more funds going to your charity — not too shabby. Just keep in mind that you’ll still be payingÂ 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction to the payment processor. You can use PayPal (see our review) or WePay (see our review) for payment processing, though YouCaring recommends WePay.
One drawback of using YouCaring compared to GoFundMe, however, is the fact that with YouCaring, your donors won’t automatically get tax-deductible receipts. The nonprofit in question will have to do this themselves by collecting their donors’ contact information through YouCaring.
While YouCaring doesn’t have as much nonprofit-specific information on their site as does GoFundMe, they do include this guide for setting up a WePay account under your nonprofit organization.
Since its founding in 2006, Razoo (see our review) has been something of an all-of-the-above crowdfunder, hosting crowdfunding campaigns for nearly any cause under the sun: business crowdfunding, personal crowdfunding, team crowdfunding, and, yes, nonprofit crowdfunding. Recently, however, they seem to be paying special attention to capturing more of the nonprofit crowdfunding market.
In order for your nonprofit to directly raise funds on Razoo, it needs to be registered as aÂ 501(c)(3) publicÂ charity in the US. However, if your organization doesn’t yet have 501(c)(3) status or is based outside the US, you may still be able to use Razoo for fundraising. To do this, you’ll need to find an organization willing to act as your fiscal sponsor. Razoo provides information as to how to do this here.
Razoo charges a standard nonprofit crowdfunding campaign 4% off the top as a fee, with an additionalÂ 2.9% + $0.30 per donation going to the payment processor. A standard Razoo nonprofit campaign will be paying slightly less in fees than a GoFundMe campaign. However, Razoo has recently unveiled a new feature exclusively for nonprofits: premium subscription plans that eliminate the 4% Razoo transaction fee and give your nonprofit unique fundraising software through which your organization can run a totally branded crowdfunding campaign.
Here are Razoo’s three nonprofit premium plans and their respective details:
- $99/month, billed annually
- No platform fees
- Unlimited P2P & Team pages
- Priority support
- Donor analytics
- Advanced CRM tools
- Donor data collection
- Data Connect integration
- Branded donation page, donation receipts, and donation widget
- Volunteer management
- $249/month, billed annually
- All of the above, PLUS:
- Pro CRM tools
- Advanced donor data collection
- Email messaging
- Branded P2P fundraising
- Advanced white label controls
- Custom subdomain
- Contact Razoo for pricing
- All of the above, PLUS:
- Domain masking
- Custom events
- Dedicated project manager
- Fundraising coaching
These aren’t cheap packages, so if you’re considering going this route, it’s best if you have some experience with nonprofit fundraising and have a reasonable expectation of funding success. If you do, these premium nonprofit packages offer a pretty compelling deal. Your organization will be able to host its own crowdfunding campaign — one operating under its own brand, not that of Razoo. Plus, you’ll have access to the advanced campaign features listed above.
Donors who contribute to nonprofit campaigns will immediately be emailed a receipt which can be used to claim a deduction on their taxes.
Read our full Razoo review to learn more.
Declaring themselves “Canadaâs leading crowdfunding platformâ, FundRazr (see our review) has facilitated the raising of over $116 million USD in their near-decade of existence. FundRazr hosts crowdfunding campaigns for personal causes, business causes, and, yes, nonprofit organizations. The company also has a great reputation among both campaigners and donors. In fact, FundRazr is one of the few crowdfunding outfits that proudly links to its Trustpilot page. That should tell you something.
FundRazr goes into exactly who can raise money on their site for a nonprofit organization here. Essentially, if you’re not an Authorized Officer of the organization in question, you’ll need to submit a Letter Of Subordination that expressly authorizes you to fundraise on behalf of the organization.
A nonprofit fundraising campaign on FundRazr will have to contend with fees equal to those of GoFundMe. There’s a 5% platform fee and aÂ 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee. Sorry!
FundRazr doesn’t give a great deal of guidance for nonprofits looking to use their platform, so if you represent a nonprofit, you’ll want to get in touch with the company to iron out the details. One thing I can tell you, however, is that PayPal and WePay (available in the US, UK, and Canada only) are your options for payment processing.
Read our FundRazr review to get the full story.
For most of its existence, following its founding in 2010, CrowdRise was a crowdfunding platform for both personal causes and charity/nonprofit fundraising. However, in early 2017, CrowdRise was acquired by GoFundMe. CrowdRise now directs all would-be personal campaigners to GoFundMe while focusing solely on crowdfunding for nonprofit organizations.
CrowdRise details the following requirements for using their services:
In order to become a CrowdRiseÂ nonprofit, [an organization] must first be a registered 501c3 in good standing with the IRS or a Canadian charity in good standing with the CRA, and have a valid listing onÂ GuideStarÂ (US) orÂ Canada.CaÂ (Canada).
CrowdRise is somewhat similar to Razoo in that you can set up a crowdfunding campaign for free and pay a transaction fee on what you raise or you can spring for a paid subscription that reduces (or eliminates) the transaction fee and gives you access to special fundraising features. Here are the details on CrowdRise’s offerings:
Starter (the free-to-start no-subscription package)
- 6% platform fee,Â 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee
- Essential fundraising tools
- Two active campaigns
- Registration integrations
- Recurring donations
- Basic campaign theming
- Email support
- On-demand training resources
- Contact CrowdRise for subscription pricing
- 3% platform fee,Â 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee
- All of the above, PLUS:
- Unlimited active campaign pages
- Custom branded URLs
- Registration and ticketing
- Custom transactional emails
- Configurable donate forms
- API access
- Google Analytics integration
- Salesforce integration
- Fundraising minimums
- Phone support with 24-hour response time
- Success strategist and annual review
- Live, web-based setup and training
- Contact CrowdRise for subscription pricing and fees
- All of the above, PLUS:
- Complex campaign structure
- Parent/child level campaigns
- Adjustable donor fees
- Phone support with 4-hour response time
- Premier account management
- Live setup, training and success planning
- Success resources w/ live assistance
- Quarterly success review
It’s unfortunate that CrowdRise doesn’t just list the pricing for premium plans on the website. Still, you get the idea. Pay a monthly fee, and you’ll get the platform fee reduced and gain access to special features you can employ in the course of your crowdfunding campaign.
At first glance, CrowdRise’s standard nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns don’t look too appealing, what with that 6% platform fee and the payment processing fees. However, when a donor pledges to a campaign on CrowdRise, they’re given the chance to cover these fees themselves — and, according to CrowdRise, most donors do just that. CrowdRise states that on average, 98% of funds donated to causes go to the campaigner due to this policy. If true, this is a very competitive rate indeed!
FirstGiving is a fundraising platform wholly devoted to nonprofit crowdfunding. It’s somewhat similar in structure to CrowdRise in that you can fundraise for a nonprofit freely without a subscription orÂ get a subscription which gives you access to more advanced features.
According to FirstGiving:
All donations made through FirstGiving are processed through our charity partner Global Impact, a 501c3 nonprofit, and are fully tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.
No word on whether donors get sent a tax-deductible receipt or not.
Without a subscription, one can launch a crowdfunding campaign for “any of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the US” A “performance fee” of 5% and a credit card processing fee of 2.5% apply to what you receive; however, as with CrowdRise, donors are given the option of covering these fees when they donate, and FirstGiving estimates that 45% of donors do so.
As for the paid subscription packages, here’s what FirstGiving has to offer. Unfortunately, you’ll have to contact FirstGiving to get pricing estimates.
- For small- to medium-sized nonprofits
- Branded fundraising pages
- P2P and event registration
- Event management
- Corporate gift matching
- Comprehensive reporting
- GiftWorks Cloud integration
- For large nonprofits
- Fully customized fundraising and event pages
- Built-in coaching tips
- Predictive suggested donation amounts
- Mobile optimized donation forms
- Monthly giving programs
A Note Regarding Indiegogo
If you’ve cruised the internet looking for crowdfunding platforms that cater to nonprofits, you’ve probably seen Indiegogo (see our review) listed as one such platform. However, this was before Indiegogo sold its charitable crowdfunding division, Generosity, to YouCaring. As of March 2018, you can no longer launch a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign with Indiegogo.
Crowdfunding for nonprofits isn’t as straightforward as crowdfunding for a business or for a personal cause. Thankfully, modern crowdfunding platforms make it easier than ever to navigate the legal complexities to help nonprofits raise money, whether you’re an officer of the nonprofit or not. Just be careful and make sure you’re doing everything by the book!
The post 6 Platforms That Do Crowdfunding For Nonprofits appeared first on Merchant Maverick.