Think about the point of view of the donor before running a crowdfunding campaign.

Make a $25 donation towards a cause-related crowdfunding campaign. Check out the campaigns on Indiegogo, GoFundMe, Kickstarter…..browse the campaigns and pick the one that you want to donate to. Once you’ve made the donation, come back to this article.


Ask yourself why you made the donation to that particular campaign.


  • Familiarity: Did you already know about this organization? Were you already aware of the issues that this campaign is seeking to address?
  • Message: Was the message (mission) of the campaign clear and easy to understand? Did the pitch text go over the plans/budget/timeline of the proposed project?
  • Emotionally Connected: Did you make a donation towards a campaign that was related to a topic that you are passionate about? Did you feel a personal connection between yourself and the campaign’s beneficiaries?
  • Engaging: Did this campaign stand out from the other campaigns? Was there a visual component that attracted your attention and/or maintained your attention?
  • Social: Have people in your social network shared this campaign? Are high profile individuals or organizations connected to this campaign?

Were there any other reasons that affected your choice? Were there campaigns that you passed over? If so, why?

Even though nonprofit crowdfunding is a relatively new fundraising approach, there have been many cause-related campaigns in the past 7 years (crowdfunding platforms began emerging in 2008). These campaigns are your greatest resource.  The best kind of preparation you can do before creating a plan for your campaign is to review other successful campaigns. 




Using Persuasive Rhetoric to Increase Your Fundraising ROI

Many people would agree that the “Ask” is the most crucial aspect of fundraising. You must be able to ask for the resources that your nonprofit needs in a way that maximizes your audience’s likelihood of receiving an optimal amount of donations.

Persuasion, or rhetoric, is the art of discourse where the author/speaker communicates in such a way as to affect the beliefs of the audience. Aristotle’s theory of rhetoric breaks this discourse into three categories:

Ethos: relates to the credibility of the presenter
Pathos: relates to the audience’s emotion
Logos: relates to the clarity/consistency (logic) of the message 

It is important to recognize the roles that these three aspects of rhetoric play in fundraising appeals. Some individuals will respond on an emotional level, while others are motivated by logical, pragmatic assertions. To have a persuasive appeal that results in the optimal amount of funds raised, you must address all three areas.


A warm glow in the after life?
The determinants of charitable bequests.

As an example of the effectiveness of rhetoric, the following study by Sarah Smith and Michael Sanders analyzed the effect that prompts had on the probability that individuals would make charitable bequests as part of their estate planning.

The study was set in the context of a phone session with a lawyer regarding estate planning. One group was given a weak ask: “Now that you’ve looked after your family and friends, I’d like to talk you about charity. Would you like to leave a charitable gift in your will?” The second group was given a stronger prompt: “Now that you’ve looked after your family and friends, I’d like to talk to you about charity. Many of our customers like to leave a gift to charity in their will. Are there any charitable causes that you’re passionate about?”

The Results:

Weak Ask: Participants who received the weak prompt were 11.3% likely to make a contribution.

Strong Ask: Participants who received the strong prompt were 17.3% likely to make a contribution.

This study clearly illustrates the effectiveness of persuasive rhetoric. By crafting a prompt that touched upon the emotions of the audience as well as establishing a credible speaker, the likelihood of an individual making a donation increased by 6%.


Using Persuasive Rhetoric In Practice:

Organizations must develop their own compelling rhetoric in order to reach potential donors. There are, however, some general suggestions that help establish these persuasive prompts:

  • According to Herschell Gordon, the most powerful word in an effective appeal is “you.”
  • The post-script is far more likely to be read than any other section (so make it count).
  • In Rosalie Maggio’s book “How to Say It,” she suggests the use of strong words and phrases, such as the ones detailed below:

aid, advocate, essential, grateful, necessity, relief, rescue, urgent, as soon as you can , come to the aid of, a campaign to support/protect/stop, as generous as possible, our immediate needs are, join forces, make this possible

Sources: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, buffersocial, Durham Tech, University of Bristol, How to Say It, The Centre for Market and Public Organisation


Charitable Giving – A Statistical Overview

The idea for this site grew out of my interest in social behavior observations as a way of establishing effective online fundraising strategy. Before diving into the material, I’ve put together a short, statistical overview of recent fundraising trends. Unless otherwise noted, the following information has been gathered from various sources concerning charitable giving in the United States for 2014.

  • Americans gave $358.38 billion in 2014, a 7% increase from 2013 (which was 2% of the GDP).
  • The average household contribution was $2,974.
  • Donations from individuals accounted for 75% of all contributions. If you add in gifts and bequests from family foundations (which are essentially gifts from individuals) the total becomes 90%.

Breakdown of 2014 Charitable Donations by Recipient Organization

(in billions)


  • 1,507,231 – number of tax-exempt nonprofit organizations in the United States
  • 500,868 – number of nonprofits with less than $1,000,000 in revenue
  • 2.25% – percentage of organizations that account for 90% of total reported revenue
  • 98.4% of high net worth households gave to charity
  • 64% of contributions were made by women

Top Ten Generous States in 2012 

(based on % of income for individual charitable contributions – the national average is 2.1%)


  • 75% of donors spend 2 hours or less researching nonprofits before giving.
  • Online fundraising increased by 8.9%.
  • Monthly donors give 42% more in one year than one-time donors.
  • The average nonprofit crowdfunding campaign raised $9,237.55.
  • For every 1,000 fundraising emails sent, a nonprofit raises $17.
  • 10% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year.

Sources: Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, National Center for Charitable Statistics, Nonprofit Tech for Good, Blackbaud

Charitable Giving – A Statistical Overview