Network for Good found that donors are 5x more likely to give to a branded platform than to a generic giving page on a third party website. This is one of the key reasons why project success rates for branded platforms are double the industry average (~90% c.f. 45%).
But there are costs associated with building or licensing a branded crowdfunding platform, so is this an investment worth making?
Before we start, let’s be clear about what we mean by a third party website and a branded platform: a third party website (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo) publishes projects from anyone, and most will give you a page to group projects from your community. These pages are sometimes called galleries,curated pages, or mini-sites. This means for universities that there will be a page to showcasing projects from their students. This is free for institutions and a great place to showcase students’ projects on one page!
A branded platform is a university’s own crowdfunding website, with your messaging, solely for projects from your current students or alumni, which you have complete control over. You can build your own platform internally or license technology from a dedicated provider to non-profits. See below an example of The University of Southampton’s & University of Oxford’s branded platforms.
University of Southampton’ branded crowdfunding platform.
University of Oxford’s crowdfunding platform (from their enterprise arm, ISIS innovation)
Third party platforms (such as those in the table below) charge fees to project creators on the funds they successful raise. When you include merchant gateway fees, this typically comes to 8-9% of the funding total.
Branded platform providers don’t charge project creators anything (note merchant gateways fees, such as PayPal still apply). This is important, because as donors, we want to know that our contributions are going to the projects for which they were intended.
It’s important to be wary of third party providers who offer to share donor data – we all know about data protection regulations, which rightly, make it impossible to transfer data without the express permission of the data subject.
In the charity sector, JustGiving asks donors if they would like to share their data with the charity they are supporting. The response is mixed.
What good is data if you have no relationship with your donors? Using your own branded platform means being central to the donor journey from start to finish: from the moment the donor views a project to the point they receive their reward. On branded platforms, universities can have a customized thank you survey (see below) shown post-donation. This is an effective way of stewarding donors for future campaigns they may be interested in!