Why One Washington State Nonprofit's Indiegogo Campaign is Foundering

Friends of the Trail, a not-for-profit group in Washington State dedicated to cleaning up trash in Eastern King County, is using Indiegogo to raise funds for a new work truck.

With a goal of $48,000 and two months to reach it, the campaign might’ve seemed attainablebut after nearly three weeks, only three backers have contributed, for a total of $230 as of Feb. 1. So what gives?

First of all, the campaign isn’t particularly well designed. It uses flexible funding, which is understandable for such a large goal (and such a small group), but which removes any sense of urgency from the fundraising.

In addition, the page is extremely short on details. While it provides information about Friends of the Trail, there isn’t too much about their need for a work truck, besides the fact that their old one is on its last legs.

There are also no rewards (“perks” for Indiegogo) in this campaign. Remember, perks needn’t be tangibledonors want information and access. Why not offer a ride-along on the new truck for high donors, or a thank-you on the website for lower-level gifts? Perhaps every donor could have their name inscribed on the bed of the new work truck.

There’s also the problem of web presence. Friends of the Trail doesn’t have much of a following on social mediathe group has 10 likes on Facebook and hasn’t updated its page since November of 2011.

Its homepage also doesn’t mention the campaign except to thank the Snoqualmie Tribe for its $10,000 gift for matching funds for a work truckit’s unclear whether these funds are related to the Indiegogo campaign or not.

What can other nonprofits learn from Friends of the Trail’s efforts? First of all, crowdfunding is all about involvementunlike traditional fundraising, it’s important that donors can feel like they have a stake in the cause, no matter their giving level.

Secondly, publicity is key. When you’re raising money online, you need to raise awareness online as well, even if your group doesn’t normally work much in the online space.

And finally, provide as much information as possible. Transparency is a key concept for the younger generations to which crowdfunding most appeals. The more raw data you can give them, the more confident they’ll feel that their gift is going to a good cause.

I wish Friends of the Trail the best of luck with its campaign, and with its laudable mission. Unfortunately, the group will need more than good wishes to raise enough funds for a new truck.