The Three Circles of Fundraising and Crowdfunding Success

Whether a crowdfunding campaign is geared toward a national nonprofit program to help improve the lives of children with autism or an international campaign to rebuild homes to hurricane victims in Puerto Rico or for children get the education they need in third world countries, causes addressing children’s well-being benefit from using the three circles of crowdfunding.

First Circle: Friends and Family

The first step to building a strong crowdfunding project begins with your friends and family. These personal connections are important to the initial stage of your crowdfunding project to build confidence and trust and impress potential donors that your project is worthy of being supported, and already has some support.

This first circle of supporters gives your project credibility and traction. Initial supporters indirectly encourage unfamiliar and unconnected viewers to support a project that already has backing.  No one wants to be the first.  People will jump onboard to back a winner. People love to be support success and be on the winning team.

How to Lay the Foundation of Your First Circle 

Because your first circle of supporters already know you and are likely to already be connected with you through phone, text, email, and social media, networking and promotion is rather easy with this group compared to crowdfunding from total strangers. This circle is crucial to building the momentum needed to reach the outer circles of potential supporters. Let’s look at some effective ways to create momentum in your first circle!

In-Person Conversations

Talk to the people you see regularly or schedule a meet-up with friends and family to talk about your project and campaign. Sharing your campaign with them will give you practice and help perfect your pitch. Always treat your personal connections with respect. Tell them about your cause and ask them for contributions within their means.Your passion and excitement can inspire people to contribute and tell their friends and colleagues and so on and so on.The stronger your pitch, the more effective your supporters will be when they share your project with others, and the momentum will help you propel your campaign to success.

Phone Contacts

Comb through your phone contact list and reach-out. Be considerate. Don’t be in a rush. Whenever possible, take a few minutes to ask them how they’re doing and what’s going on in their lives. Give them a chance to ask how you are, and what you are doing. This is the perfect time to inform them about your crowdfunding project! Let them know how much it means to you. Your confidence and passion will inspire them to support you and tell others to support you, too. Leave personalized messages if you do not make direct contact.

Email Contacts

Your email contact list is a tool to enlarge your crowdfunding project past the first circle of success. Send personalized emails to your close friends and family members to connect with them. At this stage of your networking, you are not a marketer or shameless promoter! You are building your project from the inside out. Most personal connections want to help you in some way! Remember that you are not putting them out. If they cannot financially support your cause, encourage them to tell their friends and co-workers. This is an indispensable transition to the second circle of your successful crowdfunding project.

Social Media

Connect with every person in your first circle that you can via social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. This will help you establish your online presence and credibility immediately. Not only will social media build your initial support base, it will provide you with a jumping-off point from which you may connect with many more people who are outside of your personal connections.

The Second Circle of Success: Your Community

Potential supporters in your community are important to your crowdfunding project’s success.

  1. For financial support; and
  2. To provide traction and credibility when your project extends to digital platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google plus,YouTube, and much more!

At this point it’s time to start crowdfunding your community.  Focus on building rapport, establishing trust, and conveying momentum to potential supporters. Let’s take a quick look at some of the ways you can inspire people in your community to donate to your crowdfunding project!

How to Lay the Foundation of Your Second Circle

The second circle of your success is your community, where you want to gain as much momentum as possible within your community of acquaintances and strangers. Use previous networking strategies from the first circle, while incorporating new promotional techniques to obtain greater outreach for your crowdfunding project.

Begin by Telling the Story

The second circle of success involves telling a great story to people who don’t know what you are about. Your project will speak for itself, when you provide images and videos. If you don’t know how to begin telling the story of your crowdfunding project, stick to the basics. Give people the “who, what, when, where, why, and how” of your project. Include your passion and convey emotion when sharing your story.

Utilize Your Email List

Up to this point in your crowdfunding campaign, you have utilized only a small portion of your email contacts, namely your friends and relatives. Now you are ready to maximize your entire list of email contacts. The majority of this list may include professors, classmates, co-workers, and all other professionals and acquaintances in your personal and professional environment.

Don’t jump and blast emails to these contacts! You must segment this list into manageable similar contacts and customize a few different emails. Send 10 – 15 personalized emails to our community contacts a day. See which emails are most effective and revise your email content.

Scale Your Social Media

Upload the email addresses of your contacts to Facebook to connect with them. Facebook automatically takes these email addresses and finds each of their corresponding Facebook accounts for you! You may take a list of up to 100 emails a day and input them into your “Find Friends” tab from a .CSV file of the original email addresses. This saves you a lot of time in searching for all of your potential supporters, it builds your social media followers and credibility, and it allows your community to easily share your social media posts and promotions to more people, leading toward the final (third circle) of successful crowdfunding.

Join groups on Facebook, too! There are many individuals and groups online who share your crowdfunding interests. You need to join these groups to enable your posts to reach more followers! Once you have upscaled your Facebook platform, you will be ready to strategize your advancement to the remaining social media platforms.

The Third Circle of Success: The Global Community

The third circle is the final test for your crowdfunding project. If you have successfully rallied the first two circles of your crowdfunding campaign, then you will be in a great position to move forward in the big arena!

Crowdfunding the global community requires much more time, initiative, and strategy. You will be trying to reach supporters through all digital platforms. The secret to success in this final circle is personalizing your connection with online viewers by efficiently telling a moving story.  Customize your posts, messages, and promotions to convey a passionate crowdfunding project.

How to Maximize the Third Circle

To master the third circle of crowdfunding success you need to strategize your methods for each digital platform. Much of your previous support and traction will now allow you to join new groups and forums. With the help of your friends, family, and community you have already financed part of your crowdfunding project and now you can inspire the global community to contribute to your cause.

You cannot enter this circle empty-handed, without followers. This circle is for the crowdfunding projects that have proved their popularity within their community.

Basic Crowdfunding Etiquette

Do not forget to demonstrate gratitude and humility toward all of your supporters. If someone shares your project with their friends, but does not specifically make a financial contribution, thank them for promoting your project and move forward. While the goal of crowdfunding is to finance your project, the crowdfunding process requires a lot of promotional support to advance toward more donors.


This social media platform is extremely important to post updates, news, and campaign information to your followers. More than any other social media platform, Twitter requires consistent maintenance and engagement. Twitter Techniques:  Tweets, Retweets, Follow, Like, Share, and Adding Media.


Facebook is a crowdfunding money-maker. Facebook allows you to place ads, boost posts, and network with specific groups.

Upload EMAIL Addresses to Your Social Media Platforms

On Facebook you will find the option for “Friend Requests” and “Find Friends” which will allow you to upload an email list.  This will locate your friends and allow you to add them. Your friends will then get all your project updates to share with the global community. Follow these directions:

  1. Create an excel file of your email list
  2. Make the first line of the excel file “Email Address”
  3. Save it as a CSV file
  4. Log on to your Facebook account
  5. Click “Friend Requests” and then “Find Friends”
  6. On the right side where it says “Add Personal Contacts” click the icon to the far right and log in with whichever platform you prefer
  7. Then click “Find Friends”
  8. This will direct you to a page that tells you how to save your email list as a CSV. You have already done this, so scroll down and upload your list.
  9. Select your contacts and click “Add Friends”
  10. Then, “Send invites” (This is optional)

You will also find options to send your posts to a wider audience, for a fee. On Facebook, it’s called “boosting” a post.

Press Releases

Be bold and brazen! Send a press release to local newspapers and TV stations about your efforts in crowdfunding. Your story might pique the interest of a reporter or editor. With a news story about your project in the media, you could see your campaign blow up.

In Conclusion

Now that you’ve contacted your closest friends and family, all contacts, and reached out to the public at large, you’ve completed the circles of success. Remember to continually post your project and keep yourself (and your campaign) in people’s minds by talking and posting about it regularly. Keep sharing it with the people you meet. You never know when you will spark someone’s interest – and you never know who they may know who might become a supporter.

Contact our crowdfunding mentor at to learn more about crowdfunding your project, or by phone at 888-240-1494. What are you waiting for? Sign up to start a crowdfunding campaign today!

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for

Combine Crowdfunding and Community Events to Achieve Fundraising Success

Nonprofit raffle tickets

You’ve probably seen examples of crowdfunding campaigns gone viral that met their goal in a matter of mere hours or days but the reality is that that is the exception, not the rule. The truth of crowdfunding is that meeting a fundraising goal can be challenging for even the largest nonprofit organization but it can often be near impossible for the smaller nonprofit—such as parent-teacher organizations (PTOs) and schools, for example.

Given the challenging nature of crowdfunding for these smaller entities, one Jupiter (Florida) elementary school PTO—a licensed 501(c)(3)—thought outside the box. When it became apparent to the PTO board members that the crowdfunding campaign was going to fall short of its goal, the board had to brainstorm in order to come at its goal from a new angle. The ideas they came up with to raise additional money during a school- and community-wide event may give your nonprofit school or parent-teacher organization food for thought.

Find the Opportunity in Falling Short

In 2015, Jupiter Farms Community Elementary School (JFCES), with an enrollment of just over 500 students, wanted to raise money to build an outdoor track on its campus. The project wasn’t on the radar (or in the budget) for the county school district so the school’s PTO board decided to try crowdfunding to help reach its $25,000 goal. Falling short of that goal, however, meant that the PTO had to ‘up the ante’ during its local community event.

Try Something New

They formulated a few ideas for the school’s annual Fall festival known as Panther Prowl (the panther is the school mascot), which takes place around Halloween. Open to the public and advertised both on the Facebook page of the local residents group and via simple flyers sent home with every student, Panther Prowl typically brings in a modest profit, but this particular year the stakes were higher. Consequently, the PTO board opted to raise money via some new-to-the-event methods:

1. Admission fees—it was free for kids and $5 for parents/adult family members;
2. Food trucks—they paid a flat registration fee to park their vehicle and sell food;
3. A baked goods sale—all goodies were prepared by student families and donated for sale;
4. A pay-per-throw dunk tank—teachers and the principal took turns sitting in it;
5. A silent auction of themed baskets—one from each classroom, created and filled with donations from class families relevant to the basket theme.

Believe It and Achieve It

Between crowdfunding and the money generated during Panther Prowl, JFCES managed to completely fund its track with all moneys coming directly from student families, relatives, and friends. While some nonprofits may question how to proceed following a crowdfunding shortfall, the JFCES PTO board took it as a chance to come up with new ways to generate profit during its annual Fall event. It was a gamble that paid off for them and can for your school or PTO if you’re up for the challenge and utilizing the services of a crowdfunding site like can make accepting and processing donations easier than ever before!

Find the perfect grants for you at

About the Author: Dawn has firsthand experience as a nonprofit volunteer for her local Parent Teacher Organization and was instrumental in assisting with the crowdfunding and community fundraising processes to help her school meet its fundraising goals.