This is an excerpt from my new book, Crowdfunding Confidential: Raise Money For You and Your Cause.


Leave Your Comfort Zone to JUST DO IT for Your Cause: The Action Plan



So by this point you already have chosen (or have been chosen by) your soon-to-be-successful crowdfunding project.

If you have a notebook or device handy, take a few minutes to consider and write down your answers to the following questions:


Defining Your Project


1.) Who is your proposed project for?
Will this person, group, or cause be grateful for your efforts? If you want to crowdfund for someone who would be horribly embarrassed to be featured online in such a project, you might want to consider obscuring their identity and personal details or otherwise reconsider your project all together.


2.) How can you help this person, group, or cause specifically?
Crowdfunding is all about raising money online. It would be wonderful and miraculous if we could end acute poverty once and for all, cure cancer, and eliminate the world’s suffering. However, your project sadly won’t be able to do these things, at least all by itself. You also will not realistically be able to finance the world and EVERYONE in it, at least with your very first crowdfunding project. (Never say never, though!)

Focus on what a small amount of money could do for someone. Will it give them access to education or job training that then will lead to later opportunities? Will it pay some expenses so they will have peace of mind and can focus on other urgent matters?It helps to think about what this money will do in the short term (ex. Pay for a year of secondary school) and then what this small action would mean in the long term (ex. More education means more job opportunities that will help someone stand on their own two feet, etc.).


3.) Why does this person, group, or cause need help?
Will the gorgeous Golden Retriever in the animal shelter be put down if money isn’t raised to send them to their new home in another state? Will Ms. Baldwin’s kindergarten class have to sit on a cold, concrete floor if they don’t get a new rug for “circle time?”


4.) When is this money needed by? What happens if we don’t raise it in time?
Hint: The most urgent projects fund the mostly quickly. That said, it’s a terrible Catch 22 that the more dire your circumstances, the more successful your crowdfunding campaign will be. Nobody wants to be on the brink of death in order to finally inspire donations.

No matter your circumstances, try to think about how timing could motivate potential donors. For example, if the tuition is not paid in time, the bright, hardworking student will be forced to leave school.


5.) How might potential donors relate to this situation so they are inspired to give?
Thinking about this already in the planning stage can help you out a TON when you are setting up your project and trying to come up with the text and visuals that will inspire empathy and support from your potential donors. If this is an education project, can your prospective donors relate to being helped via scholarships or family support when they were trying to go to school? What would have happened if that support hadn’t been available to them? What would they have done?

Perhaps in being grateful for their own opportunities they were privy to, they might make the mental leap and pay it forward for this other young person with similar hopes and dreams so THEY can go to school, etc.


Taking Stock of Your Skills and Resources


We’re almost ready to begin setting up your project. Just a few more things are left to consider. Please take another few minutes to answer the following questions.


6.) Is there anyone you can team up with for this crowdfunding campaign? If so, who?
There’s strength in numbers and nowhere is this truer than when you are trying to raise money online. The campaigns that are the most successful are the ones where more than one person is doing the heavy lifting, the setting up, the following up, and the fundraising.

While I embarked on my first crowdfunding campaign for Aura’s House on my own in 2004, I did have support from Children International, the child sponsorship organization. They gave me the cost estimates for the house, sent me photos of the old, mud house for my website, provided tax deduction receipts to my donors, and later organized the logistics of constructing the new brick home once my goal had been reached. I simply couldn’t have done all that by myself.

Later, friends and other donors became my partners at the site and so I no longer had to fundraise and solicit donations all alone for future projects.Who do YOU have in your life that can help? Friends and family? Colleagues or students? A non-profit organization or like minds from a Facebook group? Brainstorm on this a bit and lighten your workload.


7.) What skills do you already have that will help you create and launch a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Are you good with web design and online graphics? Can you charm the pants off anyone with your stellar writing and communication skills? Are you amazing at generating likes and shares via social media?Think about what you are good at and where your passions lie.

Think about what you also are not so good at and what feels like a chore. If you have help, you can outsource these less fun tasks to others.

In our COM 408 Media, Art, and Social Activism class crowdfunding project, I had the students rate their skills and passions for: writing, organizing, image or video creation, and social media marketing. Once I knew their interests and strengths, I was able to divide them up into four teams and the work was then divided up evenly.


8.) Which tools are you going to use for your crowdfunding campaign?
These days you have no less than dozens of ready-made, easy to use tools for creating online fundraising campaigns. While it’s beyond the scope of this book for me to get into the pros and cons of each and every one (also taking into account that they are constantly changing on a daily basis,) here are a few of the most popular tools and platforms to consider with some brief reasons why you might pick each one:

      This is arguably the most popular platform with LOTS of traffic and an active online community. It’s best used for crowdfunding projects that are for artistic or entrepreneurial endeavors. Goals must be met completely or no money is distributed. A processing fee is charged on all donations.
      This site is one of my personal favorites because it gets LOTS of traffic and there’s always a chance that they will feature your project on their website or on their social media pages. Use this platform for any type of campaign including for individuals and causes. Here you have the option to collect any donations raised even if you don’t meet your goal. A processing fee is charged on all donations, but if you meet or exceed your goal they will refund a portion of the fees charged.
      This is one of the most popular sites for individuals to raise funds for themselves as well as for groups and causes. They also get lots of traffic and feature selected projects on their home page and social media pages. This is a good choice if you want to create an ongoing campaign with no specific end. A processing fee is charged on all donations.
      This is a smaller website with less traffic. However you can easily set up your webpage and be up and running ASAP. They DON’T charge a processing fee on donations. Instead they give donors the option to donate a little bit extra to help cover operating costs. This is a great option if you want every penny donated to go to your beneficiary.
    • Justgivingcom &
      These two longstanding sites (originally for UK and US projects respectively) are similar to Youcaring. They are easy to use and get your campaign up and running, however a processing fee is charged on all donations.
      This is a newer, up and coming site that charges lower processing fees than the bigger sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo (3% vs. 8%). Similar to Gofundme and recently named one of the “best online fundraising websites” by Mashable and Forbes, it can be used to raise funds for causes, medical expenses, tuition, etc.
    • Campaign Pages from Non-Profit or Organization Websites such as The Lustgarten Foundation: Cure Pancreatic Cancer
      This can be a good option if you are doing a fundraising run or walk in conjunction with a specific organization for a specific cause such as raising funds for pancreatic cancer research, autism research, etc. Use their own easy-to-use tools on their website(s) to set up your campaign page and connect with other participants before the big event. No fees are usually charged for donations.
    • Your Own Website (Example: Aura’s House)
      This would be the old-school option, as was the case with com. Some people might like to collect donations from their own website for a number of reasons however, even when other online tools are available. If you choose this option, you most likely will need to find a secure way to collect donations ( is a great option) and will also need to consider if you will try to offer tax deduction receipts or not. Piggybacking off of a verified non-profit organization would be your best bet if this were the case.

Please note that I cover these tools more in depth along with everything else in this book in my comprehensive online Udemy Course of the same name, Crowdfunding Confidential: Raise Money For You & Your Cause.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

So, did you answer my questions and get yourself organized and in the crowdfunding success zone during the planning stages? If so we can finally start setting up your project. Let’s head on over to the next chapter, shall we?

Are there other new crowdfunding tools or sites I missed that you’d like to highlight? Do you have your own fool-proof planning tips to share? Please add them in the comments.

If you liked these tips, you can download a free sample from my new book, Crowdfunding Confidential: Raise Money For You and Your Cause.