A Guide to Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations

The public counts on nonprofit organizations to champion important issues and bring about positive change. But a nonprofit organization’s yearly financial budget isn’t always enough for its goals. Crowdfunding helps you raise money for issues that are central to your organization and offset any costs not covered by your budget or other fundraising efforts. And because GoFundMe has a 0% platform fee for organizers, your organization will be able to keep more of the funds raised.

This guide offers a comprehensive look at fundraising for nonprofit organizations and covers everything from choosing the best title for your fundraiser to increasing donor retention to other fundraising ideas for nonprofit organizations.

Start a fundraiser

Creating your nonprofit fundraiser

Getting started on GoFundMe only takes a few minutes and requires some basic information. If you’re affiliated with the nonprofit you’re raising funds for, it’s best to collaborate with your team to make it a group effort and ensure you’re all on the same page. If you aren’t affiliated with the organization, it’s best to let them know your fundraising plan to make sure they’re on board with the idea.

  • Choosing the right fundraiser images and videos

    Interesting and informative content can truly set your fundraiser apart from the rest, and the right photos can help tell your story in a unique way. The fundraiser’s main image is one of the first things others will see when the fundraiser is shared on social media platforms, so it’s important it conveys the right message and grabs the attention of potential donors. Here are a few tips about choosing photos that can lead to fundraising success:

    • Stay away from using grainy or unclear images.
    • Make sure that your main image is not the nonprofit’s logo. People are far more drawn to photos that convey an emotion and include other people rather than a logo or text.
    • Donors love seeing multiple images, so be sure to include additional photos within your fundraiser story.

    If you’d like to go above and beyond, adding videos to your fundraiser can connect potential donors to your cause in a way that photos can’t. You’ll want to ensure that any videos you add speak to your organization’s mission and illustrate why the funds are needed. Read our blog post to find out more about how videos can be powerful fundraising tools.

  • Setting the right goal amount

    Donors may have a different outlook on donating to your fundraiser depending on the goal you choose. Setting a goal that is hundreds of thousands of dollars may actually discourage people from donating, as they might feel like their donation won’t have a significant impact on your cause.

    We recommend determining exactly how much funding your nonprofit needs, and then setting a realistic goal that will be attainable. Keep in mind that you can always raise or lower the fundraiser goal at any time.

  • Creating a catchy fundraiser title

    Aside from your photo, your fundraiser title is one of the first pieces of information that potential donors will see. Creating a descriptive title can lead more people to click on your fundraiser URL, and it also makes it easier for people to find your fundraiser in a search.

    In just 35 characters, you’ll want to convey the tone of your fundraiser and describe why you’re raising funds. A title like “Help Our Organization” is vague and doesn’t explain exactly why the organization needs help. The title “Help Us Cure Breast Cancer!” on the other hand, gets right to the point and encourages people to find out more.

    To promote your fundraiser even more and encourage sharing on social media platforms, try creating a fundraiser hashtag. Others can use this hashtag to easily find social media posts about your cause across platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

  • How to write a captivating fundraiser story

    Explaining why a cause means so much to your nonprofit or why your organization needs support from others isn’t always easy, but doing so in a clear and engaging way can make a meaningful difference in your fundraiser’s success. These are important points to consider when writing your story:

    • Explain the most crucial details first, like why your organization needs the funds and who is running the fundraiser.
    • Include a detailed budget that shows how every dollar will be used. This will create transparency and earn your donors’ trust.
    • Clearly state who will be managing all of the donations. This will leave no question among donors about who is handling the funds.
    • Provide some background information about what your organization stands for, and introduce any members of the organization who play an important role in the fundraiser.
    • Add details that will immerse potential donors in your story and evoke a specific emotion. The fundraisers that receive the most donations have stories that connect people to their cause through honesty and vulnerability.

    Our comprehensive guide to writing a fundraiser story is full of detailed tips on crafting an amazing story that will encourage people to take action.

Promoting your fundraiser

Now that you’ve taken the time to set up your nonprofit fundraiser, the next step is to begin sharing it far and wide. We’ll cover how to best reach your supporters through different avenues and how to cast a wider net to reach people outside of your social network.

  • Creating a launch plan for your organization’s fundraiser

    Promoting your fundraiser is critical to its success, so it’s important to create a fundraising plan about how best to do this. Before sharing the fundraiser, begin to strategize with other members of the organization about how to best reach out to supporters and what avenues you’ll use when promoting the fundraiser.

    Prior to unveiling the fundraiser, you’ll want to create some buzz by making a pre-announcement. This preps supporters for the actual fundraiser and may allow your organization to receive more donations right off the bat.

  • Reaching out to your network

    The majority of donations, at least at the beginning, will come from people you personally know or who are connected to your nonprofit or cause in some way. Here are the best ways to reach out to your network when fundraising for nonprofits:

    • Share your fundraiser across all social media platforms and request that your supporters share it with their own digital circles.
    • Share your fundraiser prominently on your organization’s website. Consider writing a blog post specifically about the fundraiser and including a link to it.
    • Send emails to your existing supporters and include the link to your fundraiser.
  • Using social media to promote your fundraiser

    Social media is a powerful tool that allows you to reach a large audience with minimal effort. Creating consistent and interesting posts on various social media platforms can help boost donations and bring more awareness to your cause. These are the most common social media platforms for promoting nonprofit fundraisers:

    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Instagram
    • Snapchat

    For more ideas about how to use social media to inspire more people to give, read our blog post on fundraising ideas for social media.

  • Unique ideas to promote your fundraiser offline

    If you’re looking to extend your reach beyond social media, there are numerous tactics to help your fundraiser gain more visibility offline. Here are just a few tips on online fundraising without social media:

    • Text messages: Send text messages to contacts asking them to support your organization’s cause.
    • Fundraiser flyers: Create flyers for your fundraiser and post them on bulletin boards in libraries, grocery stores, coffee shops, and anywhere else that gets a lot of traffic in your community.
    • Word of mouth: Use any social interaction as an opportunity to advocate for your fundraiser. Carry flyers about your fundraiser with you so you can easily hand them out when the moment calls for it.
    • Emails: This is a great option if you have a solid database of supporters who already receive emails from your organization. Our guide to different fundraising email templates can help out if you’re looking for new or different ways to ask for support.
    • Media coverage: The local media can bring in a new wave of support for your organization, so you might try reaching out to the press to cover your fundraiser. If this is new to you, read our blog post on writing a crowdfunding press release.
  • How to write messages to your network

    Asking for direct financial support can be a tricky task to undertake, but we have some tips to ensure your requests are well phrased and effective:

    • Your message should explain why receiving support at this time is critical.
    • Be sure to emphasize the value of each donation to the organization’s work, no matter how small.
    • If writing to those familiar with the organization, remind them how much their continued support means.
    • If writing to those unfamiliar with the nonprofit, you should include some background information and key facts about the organization’s mission.

    Need some extra guidance on the best way to write messages to potential supporters? Read our blog post, How to Ask for Donations.

How to keep up the momentum

Receiving a burst of support followed by a lull in donations is all a natural part of the fundraising process. But if you’d like to give your fundraiser a second wind, we have some advice to help.  

  • Tips for writing compelling fundraiser updates

    Updates keep your donors informed about your fundraiser’s progress while also gently reminding them that you still need their continued support. Knowing how to write effective updates—and doing so frequently—can pull your fundraiser out of a donation slump. If you aren’t sure what to write in your update, here are a few ideas:

    • Write a quick message about the fundraiser’s progress.
    • Share any news related to the nonprofit.
    • Post photos from any fundraising events related to your cause.
    • Ask donors to share your fundraiser with two to three close friends.
    • Express gratitude to your supporters and publicly recognize the top five donors.
    • Highlight any important milestones. If the fundraiser has made it halfway to its goal, this is great news to share, and it encourages supporters to donate again or share the update with their network.
  • Getting more support from your donors

    Hosting events offline is an invaluable way to connect with supporters on a deeper level and educate potential donors about your organization’s mission and financial needs. Whether you decide to host an auction, rally, park or beach clean-up, or simply a fundraising happy hour, an event brings the community together while providing new opportunities to ask for support.

    If you need more information on planning an event, read our blog post on fundraising event ideas.

  • Thanking your donors

    Making sure your supporters feel appreciated is crucial in maintaining a strong donor base. Donors are more likely to give again if they’ve received a thank you message and feel valued. And when potential donors see how much your organization appreciates its supporters, this may increase donor retention and encourage recurring giving.

    While thanking donors through GoFundMe is fast and easy, sometimes going the extra mile to express gratitude is worth it. A handwritten note or personalized email can make all the difference when someone is deciding whether or not they want to offer continued support to your cause. Our blog post also offers 20 affordable ways to say thank you to donors.

Getting support for your nonprofit organization now

If your organization has goals that fall outside of its budget, crowdfunding can allow you to meet those goals without ending up in the red. Creating a nonprofit fundraiser can help your organization raise the funds it needs while also bringing more awareness to your mission. Launch a fundraiser for your nonprofit today and start making an even bigger impact locally, nationally, or even globally.