How does crowdfunding work?

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If you’ve always wanted to start a crowdfunder or have wondered exactly how it works, we can help to explain every step of the fundraising process. 

With advice on how to set up a crowdfunding campaign, we can guide you through everything you need to know. 

Steps to starting your own crowdfunding campaign

  1. Set up your account and create a fundraising page
  2. Decide what cause to crowdfund for
  3. Set a fundraising goal
  4. Explain what you’re crowdfunding for
  5. Spread the word about your crowdfunder
  6. Manage your donations
  7. Send updates after the crowdfunder has ended

Set up your account and create a fundraising page

Whether you’re starting the page as an individual, group or organisation, creating a fundraising page couldn’t be easier. 

Start by creating a GoFundMe account, where we will ask for basic information such as your name and what you’re fundraising for. 

The person who withdraws funds to their bank account must be at least 18 years old.

However, anyone who is 13 years old or more can create an account. This means that a teenager could manage the fundraiser, share it and post updates – or manage the whole page if it’s a charity fundraiser. 

You can then set your fundraising goal and explain to people how much you hope to raise with your crowdfunding campaign. 

By adding pictures, video and text you’re able to explain why you want to raise funds and tell more of your story.

GoFundMe does not charge a platform fee so campaign organisers can start and run fundraisers without any cost. 

Each donation for personal fundraisers is subject to a transaction fee (that includes debit and credit charges) of 2.9% + 25p. For charity fundraisers this is 1.9% + 20p per donation.

Decide what cause to crowdfund for

Whether it’s for a charity, a local cause or for someone you know – there are many causes you can crowdfund for. 

People using GoFundMe can crowdfund for just about anything. This could be medical expenses, friends and family, education costs or simply just a charity which is close to their heart. 

As well as raising funds for larger charities, you can also fundraise for yourself and for something which could help you out individually. 

There are some causes which are restricted on GoFundMe as per our terms of service though, such as fundraising for weapons, supporting racism or to defend someone accused of a violent crime

If you find that while you’re raising money circumstances alter and you want to change who you’re raising money for, we can also help with this

Set a fundraising goal

It’s important and helpful to set up a fundraising goal for your crowdfunding campaign. 

By setting up a target, you’re able to let followers know what it is you’re aiming for and this could lead your fundraiser on the path to success. 

Deciding your fundraising goal needn’t be a daunting task. Your goals will determine how much you want to raise and this could depend on if you have a specific number in mind. 

Make sure this goal is realistic and specific to your fundraiser; this could depend on if you’ve been told a certain amount is needed. 

There also isn’t a limit for how high you can set the goal – so you can keep going if circumstances change or if you exceed your target. 

Keep the communication with your supporters and donors frequent throughout this process and you can tell them how the journey is going, why you may need to alter the target and how the fundraising is going. 

You can also track your goals and provide updates.

Explain what you’re fundraising for

Telling your story about why you are fundraising is one of the most important aspects about your crowdfunding campaign. 

It’s your chance to engage followers, supporters and donors by explaining why you’re passionate about raising funds for a cause you care about.

Asking for help with something that’s important to you can be done with videos, images and words so you can clearly get your message across. 

Be clear in what you want to say; it’s important to include details about who the fundraiser is for, why you’re setting it up and how funds will be used. 

You can also find similar fundraisers that have successfully reached their goal. Use their approaches as guidelines for your own fundraiser.

Highlight details that will make it compelling to read for followers – are you fundraising because you’re inspired by something that happened? 

Spread the word about your crowdfunder

Once you’re all set up and ready to go, now is your chance to get the word out about your crowdfunder. 

You can begin by first sharing it with friends, family and whoever may be interested in your cause. By then sharing your campaign on your own social media, such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, this widens the reach of who sees it. 

Encouraging others to share your fundraiser online also goes a long way

As someone sees your fundraiser for the first time, they will be able to see a description, image and title of your campaign. 

The amount raised so far will also be visible, as will the number of donations and top donations. Donors can choose to remain anonymous if they like, though. 

Manage your donations

Your crowdfunding campaign will start to receive donations as it’s shared more widely – here’s what to do when funds start coming in. 

Firstly, there is a chance for you to personally thank donors. 

Posting updates about how you’re doing can also help to keep donors informed of your progress once you’ve donated. 

Once your GoFundMe starts receiving online donations, you can easily request a withdrawal at any time. Withdrawing money does not affect the amount of money raised that is displayed on your campaign.

If someone gives you a donation outside of GoFundMe, or you would like to reflect your own contribution, you can also find out more about it here. 

And if you’ve raised funds that are no longer needed and haven’t transferred them to your bank yet, you can refund your donors. This action is irreversible, so once you decide to issue refunds, you won’t be able to undo it.

Send updates after the crowdfunder has ended

One of the best things about your fundraising journey is keeping followers, supporters and donors informed with how you’re doing. 

Sharing updates frequently (at least once a week) is the best approach for reaching new people, keeping supporters in the loop, and providing fresh news they can share and re-share. 

Updates can include fundraising milestones when you’ve reached a certain amount, how your fundraising is going or how you are spreading the word. 

This could always encourage previous donors to donate again if they can see how well you’re doing. 

You can post an update on your page for everyone to see, including new supporters. But if you’d like to get in touch directly with donors, GoFundMe gives you the option to do this as well. 

If your fundraising is taking longer than you anticipated, or you’d like to carry on raising funds, that is easy on GoFundMe as there are no end dates for fundraisers. 

While there are important withdrawals deadlines you’ll need to observe to avoid donations being refunded to donors, your fundraiser will remain live until you choose to turn off donations or remove the campaign altogether. 

Most organisers leave their campaigns active indefinitely to refer back to the kind comments and support they received.

 Frequently Asked Questions

 Q: Is crowdfunding safe and is it regulated in the UK?

GoFundMe is the first crowdfunding site with a donor protection guarantee. That means we guarantee you a full refund in the rare case something isn’t right. GoFundMe features the very best in secure payment encryption technology and over one quarter of our staff work in trust and safety. Charity funding is regulated in the UK by the Fundraising Regulator. 

 Q: How do you know who has donated to your crowdfunding campaign?

You can login to your account and click on ‘Manage.’ Then click the ‘Thank your donors’ link located on your dashboard.

Here you will see a list of every person who donated. There is also the opportunity to offer thanks at this stage. 

 Q: Can you offer rewards for donating to a crowdfunding campaign?

You cannot offer rewards for donations by setting up reward levels on GoFundMe. All crowdfunders on GoFundMe are donation-based rather than reward-based, so you can’t offer rewards as an incentive on GoFundMe for giving a donation. You can read more here. 

 Q: Can people still donate after the crowdfunder has ended?

Your campaign will be able to accept donations even after your goal is reached. Once the goal is reached, the progress meter on your campaign will show that you have received more than your goal amount. If you’d like to continue raising money, you can keep your campaign running for as long as you’d like. There are no limits to how many times you can increase your target either, so if it’s going well you can continue to increase it. 

 Q: What do you do if someone gives you cash for your crowdfunder?

You can still add them to your total using the offline donations feature on GoFundMe. For more information, read our guide on how to add offline donations.


Written by olivia