Crowdfunding – top tips from small charities

  • Successful crowdfunding campaigns are designed with the community in mind. They are based on an understanding of whether personal rewards, recognition or thanks will motivate donors
  • Preparation, a clear message and a communications plan are all essential
  • We look at some great examples of how small charities have made crowdfunding work for them

Many small charities and community groups have used crowdfunding to raise money for their projects, but as with any fundraising project, crowdfunding needs careful planning and the time and dedication to make it a success.

Our recent quick guide to crowdfunding gave an introduction to the topic, from how to choose a platform to the impact of a pitch video. We now hear some top tips from small charities and groups who have designed their campaigns to appeal to their communities.

1. Campaigns with personal rewards

Stepney City Farm in East London ran a campaign to fund day-to-day running costs.

To inspire donors it offered a mix of low-cost but relevant and appealing rewards. These included experiences such as ‘be a farmer for a day’, which could be delivered through existing staff or volunteers, and objects donated for the campaign.

“Crowdfunding enabled us to raise money for boring but essential running costs, like health and safety requirements, loo rolls and core staff. All the stuff that’s not appealing for funders, who prefer projects to business-as-usual, but which are utterly essential to keep the farm open and free to visit,“ said former Farm Director, Jessica Hodge.

“We were honest about what we needed the money for and delighted with the response.”

Stepney City Farm’s campaign exceeded its initial target of £15,000, raising a grand total of £22,320.

Being part of a creative process

Meanwhile, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group offers opportunities for supporters to invest regularly each month, using the fund to commission novice and established composers to create new music.

Investors receive invitations to rehearsals and receptions, and chances to meet composers, among other benefits.

2. Campaigns with recognition as a reward

Dignity in Dying ran a campaign to encourage MPs to support the Assisted Dying Bill.

It offered supporters the chance to have their names or faces displayed on high-profile billboards, providing an opportunity for people to show their support in a way that also promoted their beliefs.

The campaign funded 10 billboards and gave added weight to Dignity in Dying’s argument that many people supported the Bill. Famous supporters included Sir Patrick Stewart, Hugh Grant, Sir Terry Pratchett and Kim Cattrall.

Other more traditional campaigns often use a simple public ‘thank you’ as a reward. For example, names of donors can be printed in a publication, on a wall or online.

3. Campaigns with no rewards

Some organisations may feel that offering rewards is inappropriate and changes the focus of the appeal. In these situations, there are still other ways to encourage donations.

For example, Rosie’s Rainbow Fund chose to support Stoke Mandeville Children’s Music Therapy Appeal by using a ‘shopping list’ approach, sharing details of how different amounts of money would benefit the project.

For example, £7 paid for a small or fun instrument, such as ‘animal castanets’, to be used in music therapy sessions.