Fundraising can be a rewarding experience, but it can also be a difficult road to reaching your goal if you don’t pick the right fundraising method. This is where crowdfunding can come into play, as you’re deciding what’s best for your type of fundraiser. Whether you’re raising money for a personal emergency, a memorial, IVF, or even to support your favorite charity, crowdfunding could be a great and simple way to meet your goal.

Here are a five things to consider when deciding if crowdfunding is right for you:

1. When do you need the money?

If you’re short on time, going door to door in your neighborhood or creating expensive mailers to send to your network might not be the best fit. If you’re fundraising for an emergency or something time-sensitive, using a crowdfunding platform may be the quickest way to get the money you need. Crowdfunding sites also make it easy for you to share your fundraiser through email, text messages, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and donations are processed quickly so that you can withdraw them almost as soon as they come in.

2. How much do you need to raise?

The amount you need to raise for your fundraiser is also something to consider. If you need a very small amount and feel you can easily raise that, reaching out to your closest family members might be all you need to do. However, if you need to raise anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, creating a crowdfunding campaign could be a better option. Many crowdfunding sites will allow you to surpass the goal you set, so there’s no limit on the amount you can raise. You’ll also find that many will allow you to keep whatever you raise — even when you do not meet your goal.

Another important thing to note is the amount of money you’ll be able to keep after all your efforts. Coordinating events to fundraise can be costly, and your time spent on planning should also be considered.  On the other hand, many crowdfunding sites charge fees. In looking at how you’ll be fundraising, factor in the costs associated with the option you choose and the amount you need to raise. Will you have to take a day or two off of work to arrange an event? How much will supplies be for the event, and will that be something you’ll need to subtract from your total raised? If crowdfunding seems like a better option, look into the crowdfunding platform’s fees to ensure you won’t have to do extra fundraising to cover those fees.

3. Who will be supporting your fundraiser?

Finding support for your fundraiser can be a big undertaking. If your network of friends and family are not near you, it may be tough to collect donations from them easily, and going door to door in your community may not be fruitful if neighbors don’t know you well enough.  A big part of having a successful fundraiser is trust, and that can be difficult to garner if you’re asking for support from someone who just met you or knows very little about you. Although you might run into some hurdles with crowdfunding, it may still be a better option for building trust and receiving donations than offline forms of fundraising.

First, most crowdfunding sites allow you to write a detailed story about yourself and your fundraiser. Your story allows you to be transparent about your fundraising needs, which not only helps to build trust with people who already know you, but also with other people who may not be within your network. Online fundraising platforms are a great way to expand your support network to people outside your immediate network — and even strangers.

In addition to making a good first impression, crowdfunding sites typically offer tools to help you share, update, and engage your network of potential donors. Even if you’re not on social media, crowdfunding sites usually offer other ways to share, such as email or printable flyers.  

Finally, one of the most challenging aspects of fundraising is keeping the momentum going. If you are taking a more traditional route to fundraising such as a car wash, bake sale, or other type of fundraiser, it can be hard for someone to contribute twice or even to spread the word. If you don’t plan on having numerous fundraising events for your cause, crowdfunding could be better for you. Through an online fundraiser, asking for a second donation or help with sharing can be much easier than doing so in-person.

4. How much free time do you have?

While fundraising is a very rewarding experience, it can take quite a bit of time and effort. Putting together an event for a fundraiser or even something as simple as a car wash can take a lot of planning. As you evaluate how you’ll conduct your fundraising, put some thought into how much time you’ll have to dedicate to your fundraiser. No matter what you choose, it will require some effort, but the effort will vary depending on your cause and how you’ll ask for donations.

Consider your own schedule first. With all of your personal obligations — including family, work, or school — time can be pretty short. If you know you won’t have the time to dedicate to putting together fundraising events, sending flyers, or other types of offline fundraising activities, they are probably not your best options. If that is the case, crowdfunding platforms may be your best bet. Crowdfunding of any sort requires work, but you won’t find yourself consumed with a lot of planning. With most crowdfunding sites, your activities will be limited to sharing via Facebook, Twitter, email, or other online forms of sharing.

Additionally, think about the free time your network might have. Will your family and friends be able to attend an event you arrange or visit your bake sale stand? Your network’s availability is a huge factor in the success of your fundraiser. If you’re not sure your potential donors will make it to your car wash, bake sale, or other event, it could be a big obstacle to success. By using crowdfunding platforms, you can eliminate some of this uncertainty. Most sites offer tools that help you share directly with your network and in places they won’t miss, such as Facebook and email. Having a captive audience on social media and email is a great way to improve your fundraiser’s chance of being successful.

5. What type of cause are you fundraising for?

The cause you’re raising money for may be one of the biggest factors in your decision to go with a more conventional form of fundraising or crowdfunding. Fundraisers for memorials, medical emergencies, or disaster relief efforts typically don’t allow you to prepare, and money is needed as soon as possible. If you find yourself in any kind of financial emergency, crowdfunding is an obvious choice. You can set up a campaign and share it within just a few minutes. For causes that are not as urgent, you have more time to evaluate your options and decide what would be best. For example, if you’re running a campaign for your local school or charity organization, you may have a little more time to plan and execute your fundraiser. However, if you would still prefer to get the money sooner rather than later, an online fundraiser is still a good option even when you have time to spare.

As mentioned previously, keeping the momentum for a fundraiser is a key part of success. Although all fundraisers may experience a slump, this may be something you can navigate out of with greater ease when using a crowdfunding platform. Most crowdfunding sites will let you edit and freshen up your story, post new photos, and share updates on your progress. All of this helps you keep your fundraiser in the hearts and minds of your family, friends, and other potential donors.

Getting started with your fundraiser

While the list of questions above is not exhaustive, it should give you a great starting point as you decide how you’ll fundraise. Weighing all the pros and cons as you go through these questions is a great way to ensure your fundraiser gets started on the right foot. Even if you are facing an emergency, it’s important to feel you’ve made the best choice for your cause. Remember to consider all your options and go with the one that rewards you the most for your time and effort.

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