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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Aging and the Digital Age

Posted by Armanino Nonprofit Team

Armanino’s Nonprofit Practice would like to thank Saeed Mirfattah for providing this blog post on behalf of the Institute on Aging. We hope you find their crowdfunding success story as inspirational as we do. And we hope you’ll join us for our Annual Nonprofit Symposium on July 15, 2015, in San Francisco. Our industry panel on expected and emerging funding will discuss some of the expected (government and bank loans) and emerging (crowdfunding, venture philanthropy and micro-lending) funding options available to nonprofit CFOs today.


In the fast-paced digital age, crowdfunding is a growing movement, and nonprofit crowdfunding is growing at an even faster rate. A recent crowdfunding industry report, highlighted that 30% of the $5.1 billion raised on crowdfunding platforms went to social causes—making the social sector one of the most active giving category.

Yes, the market is saturated with those in need. Yes, running a campaign is difficult and time sensitive. But if your nonprofit is in search of more funds and a strong social media program to reach and engage new audiences and new donors, you should consider a crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding not only raises money but increases brand awareness.

“Our connection to others is what binds us to life…”

Dr. Patrick Arbore, Founder of the Friendship Line

When the Institute on Aging (IOA) recently learned that the Friendship Line (the only accredited, toll-free, 24-hour crisis hotline for U.S. seniors at risk for isolation, depression, loneliness and suicide) was facing a major funding shortfall, we turned to the crowd with a compelling and engaging reason to give.

While crowdfunding is not a quick fix for the social sector’s funding issues, it is an increasingly critical component of the fundraising toolkit; allowing nonprofits to connect with and solicit support more efficiently than ever before. Used strategically, crowdfunding will help your nonprofit build meaningful engagement, inform your work, spread your messages and expand your donor base to increase overall funding, impact and support.

What IOA Achieved

As of the writing of this post, our crowdfunding campaign has registered as the 18th most successful nonprofit campaign on IndieGoGo. We accomplished 113% of our $100,000 goal in 45 days. Through the IndieGoGo campaign, we registered 7,740 visitors (96 from outside the U.S.), received donations from 8 countries, and attained 2,724 new visitors to the IOA website. In addition, 333 people shared the campaign through their own networks.

That’s a remarkable achievement for the first time out.

What IOA Learned

  • It takes a village: Above all, conducting a successful crowdfunding campaign requires buy-in from the full organization if it is going to generate the momentum it needs to succeed. Laying the groundwork for success means setting realistic targets, but it also means socializing the campaign with your current network. Include staff, board members and other stakeholders from the beginning.
  • Preparation is everything: The more preparation you can do the better. Get your support network in place early and let them know when the campaign is launching. Plan your tweets, as well as Facebook, and LinkedIn posts—and get your team involved. One of the more fun activities we did in advance of our campaign was a “Social Media bootcamp” for our leadership team. Our entire staff is now hashtagging!
  • Keep the campaign fresh: Once your campaign is up and running, you’ll want to promote all of your preparation with new content during the campaign. We made a video to tell our story and got on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle for an additional boost. We offered donors incentives (one of the fastest moving incentives was ‘happy dances’ from IOA staff saying thank you for the donation), and updated our incentives as they sold out. Finally, we held celebrations and rallies for each milestone reached.
  • Be prepared for some challenges: Throughout the campaign, we were peppered with people who promised (for a fee of course) to boost our network and exposure. Beware: while there is probably some legitimacy with these folks, most are likely opportunists that both take your money, and possibly, just want access to your campaign list. Rely on your internal social networks and keep the reminders, new content and campaign updates going on at least a bi-weekly basis. We were able to tie significant “bursts” of giving to each one of these regular efforts. While only 45 days in hindsight seems short, it’s similar to preparing for a marathon vs. a sprint.
  • Be prepared to be blown away: Overall, we were overwhelmed by the generosity of the crowd and you may be too. If you let your awesomeness out it will attract other awesomeness in some sort of crazy awesome feedback loop. Also, be prepared for lots and lots of happy dancing.

Happy crowdfunding!

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