From time to time, it may be helpful for you to have an online fundraising tool at your disposal, outside of the main parish/school ways of soliciting funds. Parishes and schools have finance councils and boards in place to plan and oversee anticipated expenses. But what about legitimate needs that simply don’t fall under the umbrella of the parish or school?
Two examples come to mind. My best friend, a self-employed professional, was diagnosed with an aggressive and serious cancer. Although she had medical insurance, treatment meant she would lose all her income for about 9 months. Obviously, no one church could meet the financial needs of every person with this kind of medical challenge. She set up a fundraiser and quickly raised about $12,000, which allowed her to focus on her cancer treatment and not worry about her income. Her donors were from her very wide circle of professional associates, church friends, family of friends, and more. I’m happy to report that her last two checkups revealed no cancer, and that she is getting back to work, grateful for the love and support of her online community. Take a look at Linda’s fundraising page here.
In the second example, our parish recently welcomed a family of six legitimately resettled refugees from Africa. The family consists of a mother and father in their thirties and their four children under the age of 7. While they received assistance from the State Department and the agency resettling them, they still had many needs: clothing, bedding, transportation, car seats for the two youngest children, cleaning products, toiletries, a washer and dryer, and much more. Imagine not being able to speak English and having to provide for your family on minimum wage jobs, find child care, figure out how to get to the grocery store, etc. Fortunately, we discovered this family because they registered at the parish (all are Catholic) and walked – with all four children – to Mass every Sunday, several miles! Generous parishioners helped with translation and used items, but when we began an online fundraiser, we were able to raise an additional $2500 to help buy bicycles, cell phones, towels, bedding, kitchen supplies, a crib for the baby, and much more. While we feel good about being able to help, we feel BLESSED that God put us together with these lovely people, surrounding them with new friends and able to show them the mercy and care we value as God’s people. See our fundraising campaign here.
How does Crowdrise work?
Whether you are a private citizen or a non-profit organization, you can use Crowdrise to raise funds for your cause. Follow the directions carefully to set up the type of account you want. The good news is that if you make a mistake or get lost, the helpful support team is more than willing and able to troubleshoot mistakes. (I speak from experience.) Click here to see many other organizations, large and small, that have utilized Crowdrise and click here to see celebrity causes, just to get some ideas.
Be sure to link your Crowdrise account to one of the two money-handling agencies. You will need your bank account information to do this. The setup process includes step by step instructions on how to do this.
After you open a Crowdrise account, it’s time to create a fundraising campaign. Choose a name, a goal and create a description. Upload a compelling picture to go with your cause. Finalize your campaign and then be sure to test it to make sure someone can successfully donate before you share the link.
By default, Crowdrise prompts the donor to add on an extra donation to cover administrative costs. Otherwise, the receiving campaign (you) will pay a 3-5% fee. Be sure to let your donors know (in the description of the campaign) that they can choose to not pay that extra % by clicking on the option to just make the straight donation. You will then assume that cost, but the convenience of this tool is well worth it.
Once you have tested your campaign, share it in every possible social media site. Facebook and Twitter are integrated into the tool. You can also create a html widget to put on your website. Don’t forget the old-fashioned way of simply emailing the link out to your contacts.
Crowdrise makes accounting for your funds easy. There is also a way to send a thank you message to each donor as the funds are donated. If you receive a donation by check outside of Crowdrise, you can simply add it as an offline donation. You can choose to have your funds deposited to your bank account daily, weekly or monthly.
I think the best thing about Crowdrise is that it gives the individual a way to connect with others and easily raise money for a worthy cause. The feeling of being an instrument of grace and generosity is unsurpassed. What a great way to teach your students or co-ministers a creative way to meet the needs of the least of us, using the power of many people coming together under the inspiration and prompting of the Holy Spirit!