Can your non-profit raise $1,000,000 in 24 hours using a crowd funding site?

What a difference a day makes. This week, video game developer, Double Fine Productions, raised over $1,000,000 within 24 hours of posting their next project on the popular crowd funding site, kickstarter. That’s a lot of money in a short amount of time, and it got me thinking — if it can happen for video games, why can’t it non-profits do the same thing? Today we’ll take a look at two kickstarter-like options for you and your agency.

Helpers Unite

When you combine the entrepreneurial spirit of kickstarter with charitable giving, you get Helpers Unite. Helpers Unite creates opportunities to help businesses fund projects while registered 501c3 organizations collect donations.  According to an article from The Next Web, the process for nonprofits goes like this:

“HelpersUnite has Projects and Causes on the site. Registered 501c3′s can create a Cause profile, including their logo, and then send the link to their Cause on HelpersUnite to their donor list as part of any fundraising campaign. Causes can keep their profile on the site forever, at no cost to them. They do not have to align with a charity and donate part of their funds raised on the site to another 501c3′s. All the money raised, less admin fees to HelpersUnite and credit card processing fees from PayPal, go to the non-profit. HelpersUnite features Causes on its site and social media channels regularly to help further promote users’ work.”

Additionally, Helpers Unite will send the donor a receipt for tax deduction purposes, so you won’t have to.


FirstGiving is crowd funding through your current network of supporters. Supporters can create their own pages and raise funds through their social networks.  According to Crunchbase:

“FirstGiving partner’s with nonprofit organizations to allow them to plan, execute, and measure successful online fundraising campaigns. For individual fundraisers, FirstGiving aims to make the process simple, effective, and even fun.”

This approach allows supporters to tell stories and bring awareness to their cause. FirstGiving seems best suited when supporters are fundraising for a project that is connected to a nonprofit, such as running in a marathon.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Just like every other social media site, it is important to cultivate the community on each site. Make sure you have someone monitoring the interactions, engaging in those virtual conversations, and updating your profile often.
  • Spread the news. Not only announce that you have set up a profile on a crowd funding site, but announce the successes. People like to be a part of success.
  • Learn from others. Take a look around and see what other organizations like yours are up to. How are they using the site? Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
  • Be specific. We all know that donors like to know where their money is going. On these kickstarter-esque sites, details about how the funds will be used is more important than general fundraising.
  • As of the writing of this post, Double Fine Productions has raised $1,662,430 with 47,231 backers making an average donation of $35. The company only asked for a $1 minimum donation. 25,730 supporters donated between $15 to $30. You can check the current figures, here. It only goes to show that, every penny counts.

Non-profits always seem to be trying to diversify their revenue streams. Do you see crowd funding as another possible fundraising strategy for your agency? Have you used a crowd funding source before? What worked? What didn’t? Please join the  conversation by using the comment section below!