The Land of Milk and Honey and Crowdfunding

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed. Proverbs 19:17 (The Israel Bible™)

For nonprofits and even individuals, crowdfunding has become an essential tool in fundraising, especially in Israel. It is a term that has only recently entered the lexicon, but one that has quickly gained importance. In the Jewish State, there has been a significant spike in the number of crowdfunding campaigns and the amounts raised, one Israeli platform reporting a 210% increase from 2017 to 2018.

According to the crowdfunding platform Jgive, the total of small donations (up to 2,000 NIS per year) in Israel amounts to 1.85 billion NIS annually. In Israel, a large percentage of the population gives to charity at least once per year – and in fact, the figures suggest that 37% donate between 2 and 5 times annually.  

IsraelGives, another Israeli crowdfunding platform grew approximately 210% in 2018. It’s own internal data showed that it witnessed 60-percent growth in crowdfunding over its 2017 results.

A Jerusalem based crowdfunding platform called CauseMatch is used by hundreds of Jewish nonprofits, which allows them to harness the company’s expertise in driving smart digital fundraising campaigns. Their approach is one that relies on understanding proven strategies, rather than simply trusting intuition – which is oftentimes unsound.

Joseph Bornstein (Courtesy)

“For a crowdfunding campaign to be successful, it must be authentic,” said Joseph Bornstein, founder and CEO of CauseMatch. “It’s crucial ingredients include great community-organizing, top-tier technology, excellent storytelling, and a sense of urgency.”

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Their four commandments, so to speak, create the foundation of an effective fundraising strategy. Longer copy regularly outperforms shorter copy, i.e. the longer (although not too long) a piece of copy the more opportunities prospective donors have to engage with the material. The use of a larger font, underlining and italicizing are useful tools to draw readers in and keep them connected.

The second rule concerns creating emotive language more than black and white statistics. People give if they feel an emotional connection to a cause, whereas large numbers and percentages create more distance. Crowdfunding is about creating intimacy, in the sense of attempting to entice a significant number of people to respond to a hook. Using one example of how a person has been helped by donations is an effective tool to draw people in.

By giving donors or potential donors a window on how their personal contribution can help the organization, it provides them with an emotional connection to the cause. If the focus is too much on your organization, it gives the impression that things are already in hand and doesn’t create an easily identifiable opening for the donor to feel that their money is greatly needed.

Shlomo Schreibman, Vice President of Israel365Media and Rabbi Tuly Weisz, Publisher of Breaking Israel News, present at the “Israel Gives” Conference (Credit: Breaking Israel News)

Shlomo Schreibman, VP of Business Development at Israel365Media said that crowdfunding is actually a way for nonprofits to save money. “While organizations are usually focused on growth and donor acquisition, the opportunity to raise more from their own current donors is tremendous,” Schreibman said. “Following the trends and data has shown us that crowdfunding is becoming a better way to raise funds throughout the year with multiple campaigns and not just a once-a-year event as it has been in previous years.”

The challenge to non profit organizations is clear; to analyze the giving trends pertinent to them and then to synergize crowdfunding into its existing fundraising portfolio. It is a powerful tool that used effectively can help quickly boost online donations for fundraising campaigns.