If you’re running a nonprofit organization, you probably already know that the word “nonprofit” can be misleading. Nonprofits (even if they are tax-exempt) are still businesses, which means that they need to generate revenue in order to pay employee salaries and cover operating expenses.

However, raising funds can often be challenging when you’re working in the nonprofit sector. Many nonprofit leaders are turning to crowdfunding in order to increase donations— but if you’ve never managed a crowdfunding campaign before, where do you even begin?

Check out these 5 tips to get started!

1. Use crowdfunding campaigns for specific projects, not general funds.

People are more inclined to donate when they can see that their money is going towards a specific purpose. Whether this purpose is buying supplies for your nonprofit operations, funding an expansion project, or developing a new product, make sure that your donors are aware of how their contributions will be utilized!

2. Have an end date.

A common misconception in crowdfunding is, “The longer my campaign runs, the more money I’ll make”. However, although it might be tempting to let your campaign run indefinitely, studies have shown that campaigns with an end date typically raise more money.

Why? It provides people with a sense of urgency.

A campaign with no end date often causes people to keep pushing “donate” to the bottom of their to-do list… and we all know how that turns out.

3. (Okay, so then how long should you run the campaign for?) Most successful campaigns have a duration of about 30-39 days.

If you go for much longer than that, people might forget about it or lose interest. Any shorter and you might miss out on donations (plus, you could find yourself struggling to keep up with managing the campaign.)

4. Expect the majority of your donations to come in the first week of launching and in the last three days before ending the campaign.

It’s pretty typical for crowdfunding campaigns to experience a donation lull around week 3. Don’t get discouraged; just keep your donors engaged with posts about campaign updates, and focus your energy on making those last few days count!

5. Think carefully before deciding to offer gifts/rewards.

This is another tip that seems counter-intuitive at first… but studies have shown that offering gifts/rewards often reduce charitable giving. People usually donate to social good organizations because it makes them feel good, not because they want some sort of extrinsic reward. In fact, receiving a gift for doing something good might make them feel selfish, as if they did it for the reward instead of the impact.

The other side to this is that you run the risk of spending a large percentage of the money you just raised simply to cover the cost of producing/shipping out rewards. (And let’s be honest, how many times are your donors going to use that pen or wear that t-shirt, anyways?)

If you’re still dead-set on the idea of offering rewards, consider making that option available only for higher-level donations (say, $50 or $100+). You can still offer recognition for lower-level donors, but in a way that doesn’t cost you much— such as a shout-out on your monthly e-newsletter.

And there you have it! You’re well on your way to starting a successful crowdfunding campaign. Be sure to check back in on our blog for more tips on nonprofit fundraising, coming soon!