If you’ve ever hosted a crowdfunding campaign, you likely associate crowdfunding contributions with younger donors. However, more and more donors in the 50-plus group are getting more savvy about online donations, including crowdfunding. With a little extra effort, you can create a campaign that’s accessible to supporters of all ages, and make it easy to contribute to your mission any time, from any device.
After living during the pandemic for more than a year, you may think that donors are less likely than ever to contribute to your nonprofit’s campaign. Let’s be clear: This is not the case.
Despite its hardships, 2020 brought out the best in us. According to Fidelity, 25% of charitable donors actually planned to increase their giving, and a whopping 54% planned to maintain their charitable donations over the course of 2020! Now is not the time to shelf your organization’s needs. In fact, it may be a great time to create a new strategy and launch a crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding campaigns are online, time-bound campaigns focused on raising funding for a specific project or need, usually hosted through a third-party platform specialized in this type of fundraising. Crowdfunding campaigns rely on supporters to share the campaign website with their social networks, which makes crowdfunding a type of peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising. Traditionally, these campaigns have been associated with young people and/or trendy causes, but it’s time to think about crowdfunding more broadly.
These days, with the widespread use of smartphones and social media, it’s not just younger donors you should be targeting with your online campaigns. After all, donations from Baby Boomers tend to represent the largest share of revenue for many nonprofits in the United States.
Unlike 10 — or even five — years ago, every generation is pretty connected these days. The Baby Boomer generation has become especially active on platforms that are critical for promoting crowdfunding campaigns, so it makes sense to invest some time in learning how to best connect with them online.
Here are four tips on how to target the 50-plus audience so you don’t miss out on their valuable donations.
1. Choose the Right Crowdfunding Platform
If you’ve already used a peer-to-peer platform in the past, consider evaluating if it would be beneficial to select new software for this campaign. Choose a platform that offers you the level of control, customization and data reporting that you’ll need to ensure an easy experience for you and your donors. Consider the following:
- Accessibility. There are a couple of things to consider with accessibility, especially if you’re targeting older donors. First, look for platforms that allow you to customize your campaign page with your own graphics and brand images. Make sure your page isn’t busy, confusing or full of distracting fonts/graphics. Keep things clear and simple. Second, make sure the platform you choose works on mobile devices — you don’t want your campaign page’s layout to distort or malfunction when viewed from a smartphone! A huge portion of your potential donors will access your campaign’s page by clicking through links on social media apps while they’re browsing on a phone or tablet, so you can’t risk losing their attention or support with a clunky page.
- Compatibility. Think about the other tools your nonprofit already uses. A platform that seamlessly integrates with your CRM will be much less of a headache than one that doesn’t. For example, you’ll need to ensure that your crowdfunding platform gives you complete reports on donations and contact information so that you can save them in your donor database. This will make sure you get the most out of your campaign over the long run and can get back in touch with new donors for your next campaign.
- Cost. You’ll naturally want to retain as much of the donations you receive as possible. Make sure to pay attention to any costs and processing fees on crowdfunding websites — even free ones will have fees to look out for. Additionally, look for a platform that doesn’t require you to reach a minimum amount before you can keep your hard-earned donations.
While there are other factors to consider when choosing a crowdfunding platform, these three are a good starting point. Be sure to consider both your nonprofit’s needs and your donors’ experience using it. Poor backend functionality will make your campaign more of a hassle on your end, while a confusing experience for donors will result in fewer donations.
2. Explain the Crowdfunding Process to Your Donors
It’s possible that older donors aren’t quite as familiar with crowdfunding as their millennial counterparts. That’s why it’s so important to explain what crowdfunding is and how it can help your nonprofit.
Create a blog post or dedicated page on your nonprofit’s website that explains how crowdfunding works and introduces your specific campaign. You’ll want to make it clear why you need the donations, how your audience can donate, what your fundraising goal is and the timeframe for your campaign. Making sure that your audience understands the problem you’re trying to solve and exactly how their contribution will help is crucial. Also emphasize how easy it is to donate — you can do it quickly and securely, right from your smartphone!
3. Promote Your Campaign
Before anyone donates to your campaign, they first have to see your campaign. That’s why outreach and generating awareness for your campaign is so important. Launch your crowdfunding project with an email to your donors linking to your blog post and your crowdfunding page. You’ll want to share this to social media, too.
Spend time developing your marketing strategy for this campaign. Because you may have to work a little harder to convince an older audience to participate, you want to be extra diligent about communicating in a compelling way. Make sure you understand how to appeal to their emotions and create a personal connection with your cause, even through a computer screen.
After the launch of your fundraiser, promote your campaign as much as possible through email and social media. Consider reaching out to social media personalities or accounts with larger online platforms and asking them to post the link to your campaign. Just keep their audiences in mind and try to choose accounts that older donors may already follow and trust.
Consider organizing a virtual fundraising event for donors to tune in and learn more about your campaign, why it matters, and how to get involved. You might even host multiple small-scale virtual events over the course of your campaign to check in on your progress and motivate supporters to help you reach your goal. Campaigns that update their supporters on the fundraiser’s progress are much more likely to do well than campaigns that don’t.
4. Offer Your Donors Additional Ways To Help
To boost engagement and donations even further, offer your crowdfunding donors additional ways to get involved. Our two biggest recommendations for deepening engagement with older donors are:
- Ask them to share your campaign online. These days, older donors are just as (if not more) active on social media than younger donors, especially on Facebook. Ask them to share your crowdfunding campaign with their Facebook friends and explain why they love your mission. Really emphasize how much a share could help your cause. Even if your audience doesn’t or can’t donate, it’s still a huge benefit if they can share your posts, so make sure to tell them that.
- After you’ve secured a donation, encourage your donors to check their matching gift eligibility. Many donors are eligible to have their gifts matched by their employers. This could result in extra support for your mission, stronger relationships with those donors, and the beginnings of new corporate partnerships.
By offering your donors additional ways to get involved with your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll provide more options to those who can’t donate right now while also opening up valuable opportunities to deepen your relationships with donors across the board.
Remember, long-term donors don’t simply want to give to your campaigns each year, they want to understand the impact they’ve made and to feel that they’re actively helping further your mission in new ways over time.
Especially in the age of social distancing, crowdfunding is an effective strategy for raising funds for your nonprofit. Be sure not to neglect your older audiences with your online campaigns: if you do, you’ll miss out on valuable donations. With donors aged 50-plus, all it takes is a bit of thought and effort to explain what crowdfunding is and why it’s so important, solid presentation and promotion, and of course, follow-through.
Follow these tips to make sure you harness the power of Baby Boomers!
Lomesh Shah is the CEO of Fundly. He has more than 25 years of experience in international corporate leadership with a strong emphasis on marketing technology and data management systems. Lomesh has worked with small to mid-size businesses, privately-held companies and Fortune 500 corporations in various capacities — from sales and marketing to overseeing automation and re-engineering of processes and operations.
In his role, Lomesh spends much of his time immersed in the nonprofit industry both as an industry leader, speaker and in service to several organizations as a board member and volunteer. Outside of the industry, Lomesh is a technology junkie and will give anyone willing to listen an assessment of the latest trends in anything from espresso makers and mobile gadgets to electric cars and wind power.