With over 25 million donors in its history, GoFundMe is the most popular crowdfunding site on the internet. Whether you’re looking to raise cash to get your car fixed, start a business, or pay for a funeral, GoFundMe is the fastest and easiest platform to use. Signing up and making a campaign is free, but even more importantly, GoFundMe lets you keep all of the money you raise, regardless of whether you hit your target. Curious about getting started? Here’s everything you need to know to set up a GoFundMe campaign.
Signing up for a GoFundMe requires an email or Facebook page. Using your Facebook page to sign it is faster and allows you to access photos from your account for your profile. However, if privacy is a concern, use an email address instead.
The first thing GoFundMe asks new users is what their fundraising goal is. If you’re not immediately sure, the site suggests setting $1,000 as a base donation level. You can always go back and increase the goal amount later if your needs change. If you want to change your goal in the future, it’s a wise idea to make an update explaining the changes in your needs. Backers are good-natured people, but if your $1,000 campaign jumps to a $20,000 campaign without explanation, they might get sour.
If you’re raising funds for yourself or a friend, create a personal campaign. Personal campaigns are charged a lower amount than campaigns for charitable organizations, so don’t forget this step. If you’re raising funds for a 501(c)(3) nonprofit select the Certified Charity campaign option. You’ll need to enter your charity’s name or EIN number, but money donated this way goes directly to the charity, and donors get tax-deductible receipts in return for their contributions. This is a great way to encourage people to donate to your campaign, but it’s only offered for certified charities. (GoFundMe can’t be used for anything illegal, or hate crimes, so make sure you’re raising money for an honorable cause.)
This is the first major step toward selling yourself for donations. Photos can be uploaded via Facebook or your computer, but videos need to be hosted on via YouTube or Vimeo. Select something that will educate visitors on your problem. If you’re fundraising for a project, add a video that shows what the final product will look like and how it can be used. When soliciting donations for medical expenses include photos of the subject that will help potential donors connect to your subject. They should be personal. Be honest without being exploitive. There’s a delicate balance to walk when asking internet strangers for money.
Let everyone know why you’re asking for donations. Not everyone is gifted with the ability to write, but with a little plotting, anyone can tell a story. Think back to grade school and remember the basics: who, what, when, where, why, and how.
These questions may feel invasive, but they give people a better understanding of your needs. More importantly, they make sure you won’t accidentally leave out a piece of important information when you’re setting up your campaign.
We understand why you might not want to connect your Facebook to your GoFundMe, but unless you’re a public figure, it’s a good idea. This will let people know you are who you say you are and help keep concerns about scams at a minimum. It also lets donors know you’re running a campaign instead of someone running it in your name.
No one wants to beg for money, but if you want your GoFundMe to be successful, you’re going to have to really put yourself out there. GoFundMe walks you through this process, encouraging you to make posts on Facebook, message people through Messenger, and email your Gmail/Yahoo/Outlook contacts. According to GoFundMe, projects promoted on Facebook get three times more donations than those shared via other methods.
Your early donors are the ones who are most likely to share your campaign, and you should expect to get fewer donors the longer your campaign is active. GoFundMe has no limit on the length of a campaign, but crowdfunding sites get flooded. After a few weeks, unless you’re actively promoting your campaign, you should expect a drop in donations. Your first few weeks are important. Put your pride aside and go door-to-door—online that is.
If your campaign is supporting a long-term issue, like healthcare or getting back on your feet after a tragedy, updates are important. People like to know where their money is going, and if they’re giving to your GoFundMe, they most likely care about you. Updates are their reward for helping you—and their reason for continuing to.
It’s particularly important to post an update whenever you change your goal amount, especially if you’re asking for more money. Explain where these new costs are coming from, how long they’ll last, and what impact they’ve had on your life. Don’t offer more information than you’re comfortable with, but try and let people know what’s going on. If something terrible happens, it’s OK to talk about it, but make sure also to share your successes along with your failures.
Remember, GoFundMe is best for personal crowdfunding. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are better for professional projects where you need to cast a wide net for backers. There’s no shame in asking for help, and GoFundMe makes it easy to do so.
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance.