What's The Difference Between Fundraising and Crowdfunding?

September 16, 2021

By Taryn Hefner

Taryn runs Marketing at Join It and is a lover of all things data! You can frequently find her experimenting in the kitchen, absorbed in a book, or brushing up on her Python coding skills.

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When it comes to fundraising for your nonprofit or charitable organization, you might have some questions about the semantics. Peer-to-peer versus crowdfunding versus traditional fundraising… what’s the difference? We’re here to clear things up. 

When it comes down to it, all of these tactics have the same thing in common: It’s a way to fund your organization with community support. 

But the similarities stop there! 

Crowdfunding and Peer-to-Peer Fundraising 

Qgiv.com calls crowdfunding “the practice of funding a project, campaign, or program by collecting many smaller donations from multiple donors instead of relying on large donations from one or two supporters.” Crowdfunding, done mostly if not entirely online, has the benefit of national and global reach! Be sure you have the social media following to help promote your cause if you choose this option. 

Funraise.org also notes that the “majority of crowdfunding campaigns usually have a specific timeline, a deadline in meeting the target date set.” While this isn’t a necessity, it is true that many crowdfunding campaigns are just that-- campaigns. They have set start and end dates and aim to hit a goal during that time. 

Meanwhile, peer-to-peer fundraising is a similar practice on a larger scale, requires participants to fundraise on your behalf, and is usually associated with some sort of event. It’s best to use peer-to-peer if you have the staff to support the personal touch that this sort of technique requires. If you’re running on a skeleton crew, consider crowdfunding or traditional fundraising instead. 

Traditional Fundraising 

Methods that would be considered “traditional fundraising” are hosting events to collect physical donations, like an adoption event or annual gala. This is typically considered an “offline” way to collect donations for your organization. 

If your organization is a local wildlife center or a state-wide education program, traditional fundraising might be the best option for you! These are organizations that are geographically restricted and can have the biggest impact on local communities. 

Which One Is Better? 

As with anything, you’ll need to determine which tactic is right for your organization! 

For smaller organizations, local and recurring events for traditional fundraising might be best. For larger organizations with more reach on social media, crowdfunding could be a great way to meet some goals! Meanwhile, established organizations with a dedicated fundraising staff could easily make use of a peer-to-peer fundraising structure. It all depends on what you’re looking to accomplish! 

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