I was recently speaking with the CFO of a national non-profit and they asked me, “If you could give me one tip to help us think about our financial future, what would it be?”
I responded with what I say every time I am asked that question, “I will give you three tips - DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY, DIVERSIFY!”
As we all look towards ensuring that our SOAR programs are adequately funded moving forward, more and more people are asking, “Should crowd funding be a part of our overall efforts to diversify our funding?”
This question is a little complex and is either a “yes now” or a “yes later” (see #4 below).
Here are some tips you should consider as you look towards supplementing your SOAR funding with crowd funding.
1. Keep it Simple!
When crowd funding, no matter what platform you decide to use, you will have to explain what SOAR is in very easy terms. Remember, 99% of the people reading your appeal will not work in human services and may have no idea what SOAR even is! As they say in law, explain it so a 3rd grader would understand!
2. Outcomes! Outcomes! Outcomes!
As with any type of funding, it is very important that you collect and then share your SOAR outcomes in order to attract potential donors. The reality is, the web-based funding world is very competitive and people are hit with multiple requests for them to open their wallets each day. It is important that you are able to show exactly how SOAR is working and helping people achieve stable hosing in your community.
3. Take it Personal!
Research shows that people are more likely to donate if they feel a personal connection or understanding with the people being helped. Using personal stories about how SOAR has helped people in your community will go a long way. Also remember, pictures say 1000 words!
4. You Can’t Crowd Fund without Other Social Media Platforms, Have a Plan!
“If your SOAR program is doing awesome but nobody is there to hear it…will it still get funded?” NO! At the very least you need to be on Twitter and/or Facebook to have a decent shot at crowdfunding. This means if you are not on these platforms now - start there first and then reconsider crowd funding at a later time. This planning should be part of your official (or unofficial) social media plan.
5. Pick the right platform!
Even the most energized and savvy social media expert can’t be on all platforms. Prior to choosing what you want to use you need to consider your demographics. Where is your audience?
6. Find the Crowd!
No matter how great you program is, people are not scanning the internet looking for programs to fund! Crowdfunding gives you a platform to showcase and obtain funding but they generally do not help you find the funders, that’s your job! Use your social media platforms (see above) and gather connections/friends/followers who will fund or share your appeal.
7. Be Specific!
People like to know exactly how their money is going to affect their community. Let people know! For example, “Every $1,000 collected during this campaign will help one eligible person with accessing SSA benefits so they can get off the streets!”
8. Time Limited!
Kind of like how you don’t believe the furniture store always having the “closing blowout sale” is really going out of business - if you’re always in emergency funding appeal mode, potential funders won’t believe you either! Keep your goals concrete and time limited!
9. Remember Your Crowd!
Once you’ve met your crowdfunding goal show respect to those who supported you by funding or sharing your appeal. Again, sharing how their efforts helped specific people with accessing benefits and stable housing will show your donors respect and also make them more likely to fund you in the future!