Volunteering and fundraising are both crowdsourcing techniques that charities have been using for years.
The recent growth in crowdsourcing has allowed these organizations to reach even more supporters and lower their overheads. Nonprofit organizations often struggle with funding and survive primarily on grants and large donations. These can be infrequent and unpredictable. Crowdsourcing can accelerate and expand the traditional fundraising techniques that are associated with charitable institutions. Most charities and nonprofit organizations must maintain transparency in their work. The placement and direction of their funds is subject to monitoring and sometimes extreme scrutiny. Crowdsourcing allows the public to get an inside look into an organization and actively participate in their projects. Volunteering is standard practice in charity work. Crowdsourcing allows nonprofits to leverage this device and acquire skilled workers at little to no cost.
Crowdsourcing can be used for a variety of companies, individuals and groups. However, a few key aspects of crowdsourcing are particularly useful for charities and nonprofit organizations. While some of these ideas are not new, the rise and evolution of crowdsourcing has enabled charities to utilize the crowd more than ever.
Crowdsourcing through social media can help charities obtain large amounts of data in a short amount of time. A charity can use social media to ask their target audience for local data without the need to travel or hire a worker to collect the information in person. This form of data collection is useful in large-scale relief efforts or for those looking to canvas a group of people to gather data concerning an event or place. Natural disasters can cause devastating destruction and result in numerous missing people. Charities that focus on these types of services can use social media platforms and other messaging services to ask people on the ground to mark themselves safe or record whom and where people are.
Crowdsourcing can also be used to collect data from across various regions. If a charity is working on conservation efforts across several countries, they can ask the public to submit data depending of their location. This allows the charity to receive vast amounts of data from around the world at little cost and faster than if, they used in-house employees or volunteers.
Using volunteers to complete projects and help raise funds is not a new concept for charities. However, with the rise of the digital economy and social media, charities can now crowdsource volunteers from a much larger pool of people. A charity can tap into the talents of people all over the world, from transcription services to coding.
Many charities require up-to-date knowledge on how their projects are being received and what they can do improve them. Crowdsourcing feedback and fielding input from the public is a great way to develop a program and refine its delivery. Online forums, voting systems and social media platforms can help charities harness the power of the crowd and find out where they should focus their attention and what subject needs to be addresses next.
Fundraising is a large element of running a charity or nonprofit. While many organizations receive funding from grants or large individual donors, these funds may come with certain criteria and obligatory goals. Securing enough money to roll-out projects and run operations, while retaining the freedom to work on the projects they want, can mean a charity spends a great deal of time fundraising. Traditional fundraising events were not able to reach as wide of an audience as they are now, reducing the possibility of raising large amounts. Instead of asking for larger donations from a smaller group of donors, crowdfunding has made it easier to get smaller donations from a large group of people. In addition, crowdfunded money is typically not tied to any restrictions in how to the funds are used.
Websites specifically geared several online crowdfunding towards charities and 501(c) (3) organizations. Incentives for contributing are often donated to the charity, which helps avoid further costs from the charity. Depending on the charity, these donations may also be tax-deductible for the donors. Subject to how the charity is setup, it may not be responsible for the income tax that would normally be placed on raised funds. Completion of a 1099-k is required by IRS if the donations exceed $200,000 or if the campaign receives over 200 contributions.
Crowdfunding techniques can be used for smaller projects and initiatives within a charity. Asking large groups of the public to help fund one particular project can help focus a charity’s mission and engage their supports towards a common goal. In addition to this, a charity may need a quick influx of money for a spontaneous project. Reaching out to the public for funds can produce swift results, whereas the application for grants can take a long time to complete. For instance, when an organization seeks funds to help pay for human rights lawyers in a time of crisis, they have a better chance of receiving funding sooner through crowdsourcing, than relying on a grant which can take several months.
The overhead costs of a charity can be high and often place a strain on the growth of the organization. Crowdsourcing can be used to complete tasks, find skilled employers and save costs in the process.
No matter how small or large of a project, charities can reach out to a large group of people with questions on how to solve a problem or complete a task. Instead of interviewing and hiring one or two people to solve these issues, crowdsourcing allows you to sift through the responses, find the best person for the job and compensate them accordingly. Keeping in-house employees to a minimum can help lower a charity’s overhead and drive funds toward the actual mission of the organization.
Advertising is not often seen as something a charity should spend a lot of money on. They are penalized for spending too much money on most administrative or operational systems instead of toward the charitable cause itself. Crowdsourcing contests on social media platforms are low-cost solutions that can yield great rewards. Contests help engage the community and advertise the presence of a charity, without spending colossal amounts on television adverts or other traditional forms of advertising. Crowdsourcing places a great deal of the work in the hands of the public. Therefore, contests can be simple, require little maintenance and are often spread by the participants themselves.