If you’ve never raised money through crowdfunding before, the process can seem intimidating or overwhelming—but follow these eight easy steps, and you’ll have everything you need to launch a successful fundraiser for yourself or a loved one.
How to raise money through crowdfunding
1. Define a goal
Start by defining your goal—not just for yourself, but for your potential donors. People are more likely to give money to a cause that is clearly defined. For example, if you’re raising money for a medical procedure, don’t list just the big-ticket price of the procedure itself, but also related expenses such as lost income, rehab, medications, and medical devices.
2. Set a deadline
Estimate how long it will take you to reach your fundraising goal, and set a deadline. Such “ticking clocks” create a sense of urgency that makes donors respond more quickly. If your deadline is determined by an external factor—some other person, entity, or event—make that clear to potential donors.
If you don’t have an external pressure, try setting an aggressive deadline anyway. And if you’re doing a fundraiser that’s connected to an existing national awareness campaign, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, think about aligning your deadline with that timeframe.
3. Choose a platform
We’re a little biased, but when it comes to crowdfunding platforms, GoFundMe is likely your best choice. Unlike other sites, we have a 0% platform fee, and you can start withdrawing funds as soon as you start receiving donations. Our platform also makes it easy to raise money in person (say, at a fundraising event) with a mobile device. Many of our most successful fundraisers combine online fundraising with events (of all kinds) to raise as much money as possible. To dive deeper into crowdfunding platform comparisons, see our post How the Top 5 Online Fundraising Sites Compare. For ideas for fundraising events, see Fundraising Ideas.
4. Tell your story
Your story needs to answer basic questions any reader would have: who, what, where, when, why, and how. What will the funds be used for? How are you connected to the cause? How will the donations raised aid you or others? When it comes to fundraising, the why is particularly important—why does the recipient need this donation?
If you come up with a strong title for your fundraiser after you’ve written your story, it will help you capture and summarize your campaign in one standout line or phrase. It’s hard to overstate how important the title is. As with a book or movie, it can draw people in or turn them away (before they know anything else).
For more tips on how to tell your crowdfunding story to raise more money, see our posts, Crowdfunding Campaign Story: Your Complete Guide, Great Ideas for Naming Your Online Fundraiser, How Images Can Lead to Fundraiser Success, and The Power of Video.
5. Use GoFundMe’s free resources
GoFundMe offers a wide range of resources to help you start and run a successful fundraising campaign. To learn more about how to raise money through crowdfunding, check out our fundraising tips, success stories, and many other free resources, including (but definitely not limited to) the following posts: 15 Ways to Skyrocket Awareness of a Cause, Viral Fundraising, and Using Social Media to Promote Your Fundraiser.
6. Ask friends and family to join your team
A little help from your friends can make fundraising easier, more fun, and more effective. Make a list of friends who might be interested in helping, based on their life experience or relationship to the beneficiaries. For example, maybe a friend who’s passionate about the environment wants to help you raise money for a recycling event. Or maybe someone who lost a close family member to cancer could help you raise money for a cancer walk. See if you can get three to five friends to join your fundraising team, even if their time commitment is low. You can divide up the work (for example, one person can manage updates, while someone else handles thank-yous). Having a team also dramatically boosts the reach of your campaign thanks to the power of your combined social networks.
7. Get the word out
Getting the word out is the phase people often want to jump to, but it’s important to lay the proper groundwork first.
Once you’ve posted your fundraising page, get feedback on it from trusted friends and family. Use any good suggestions to refine your story, images, etc. Now ask your inner circle (the combined inner circles of people on your team) for donations. Why? If they see that some funds have already been raised, people who know you less well are more likely to donate.
Once your inner circle has donated, share your fundraiser with everyone everywhere—including local media. If you create a Facebook page for your fundraiser, consider paying to boost posts if the costs will be outweighed by donations. Also consider soliciting help from local businesses. perhaps asking one to host a fundraising event. The more visible your fundraiser is, the more donations you’ll receive. Follow up regularly with people who haven’t yet donated, but who you expect will.
8. Show your appreciation
Don’t overlook or undervalue this step. When people make a donation, think of it as the beginning of them caring about the cause, not the end. When seen this way, the thank-you is clearly the beginning of an ongoing relationship with the donor, a kind of gateway to remaining part of the story. Simple, personalized thank you letters are an easy way to show your appreciation and strengthen relationships with donors. For more ideas, check out 20 Affordable Ways to Thank Donors.
Putting it all together
To raise money is to ask for help—but when done right, it can become less of a plea and more of a transformative experience for everyone involved. The beauty of fundraisers is the act of people coming together to reach a common goal. With these steps for how to raise money and the other resources we’ve provided, your crowdfunding campaign will be well on its way. Start your fundraiser today.