How to Crowdfund Your Campaign or Non-Profit

This post was written by Michael Parks and initially published by Mosaic, a platform that makes it easy for anyone to directly invest in community-scale solar energy projects.

Crowdfunding is growing fast: in 2011, a comprehensive review put the industry’s size at $1.5 billion, and projected that it would grow to $2.8 billion by the end of 2012. Crowdfunding is also becoming more diverse: platforms now exist that make it possible to put money towards everything from equity investments in businesses to interest-bearing loans for solar energy to donations for music, film, and art projects. 

Many new crowdfunding platforms are also aiming it to make it easy to fundraise for campaigns or non-profit organizations. Here are four sites that can help you get your project off the ground:

Indiegogo

While Indiegogo is a broad-based, big-time platform (a la Kickstarter), it also maintains a serious commitment to funding social change. The site has a special section dedicated to “causes” and a vibrant community of funders with an interest in changing the world.

How to Launch a Campaign

Indiegogo does not screen its campaigns. Launching a project simply requires creating a profile page, with a video, summary, fundraising goal, and deadline. Campaigns keep what they raise (though there is a catch—see below) even if they don’t meet their goal.

Advantages

Indiegogo has a big community.

Disadvantages

Indiegogo has a low bar for posting a campaign, meaning there can be a lot of competition for eyeballs. Also, for campaigns that don’t meet their fundraising goal, the percentage paid back to Indiegogo jumps to 9%. 

Total Fees

4-9% + 2.9% for third party payment processing

Razoo
Razoo focuses specifically on web-based philanthropy for non-profits, calling itself “a movement of people who want to make generosity a part of everyday life.” In addition to the usual crowdfunding tools, Razoo offers widgets for organizations seeking to collect donations on social networking sites or mobile devices. The site also hosts Giving Days in which non-profits compete to fundraise the most over a short period.

How to Launch a Campaign

Razoo only allows fundraising for formally registered 501(c)(3) organizations. Getting started requires registering your organization and creating a page with basic organization information. You can then seek donations for the organization as a whole or launch campaigns for specific goals.

Advantages

Razoo has relatively low fees, an active community, and incredible tools for official non-profits.

Disadvantages

Only registered non-profits can use Razoo.

Total Fees

4.9% (2.9% until April 1, 2013)

Crowdrise

Co-founded by actor Edward Norton, Crowdrise brings together social networking, fundraising, and a lot of hilarious copy writing.

How to Launch a Campaign

Crowdrise only raises money for registered 501(c)(3) organizations. If your organization is registered with the IRS, anyone (including you) can create a fundraising page to raise money for it. Organizations can have multiple fundraisers at work at once.

Advantages

Crowdrise is hip and active, and has oodles of celebrity engagement.

Disadvantages

Only registered not-for-profits can raise money. Fees are high for the industry and complicated to calculate.

Total Fees

7.5-9%

Rally

Rally aims to make it super simple to raise money and build support for social causes. The company also has one of the more elegant platforms in the crowdfunding world.

How to Launch a Campaign

Anyone can launch a “Rally.” You’ll need high-res images for your project page, a video if possible, and a brief campaign description.

Advantages

Beautiful campaign pages and an active, growing membership base. Relatively low fees.

Disadvantages

Rally only features a few of its campaigns on its homepage—most of the work of building support for your fundraising effort is up to you.

Total Fees

5.75%

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