What’s Best?

All-or-Nothing vs. Keep-what-you-raise crowdfunding campaigns

By Joseph Bornstein | CEO & Founder of CauseMatch.com

What is better? To run an all-or-nothing crowdfunding campaign or a keep-what you raise campaign?

It depends.

Generally speaking the “all or nothing” mechanism can be quite powerful. Its biggest value-add is that it motivates your staff and campaign volunteers to push hard to reach the goal. Since your staff and volunteers are the engine behind your whole campaign, motivating them is a powerful way to super-charge your campaign.

It can also motivate people on the website to donate who might not have otherwise. For all-or-nothing campaigns, at CauseMatch, we notice people donating twice, three times or even four times to a campaign to help them reach the goal.

Lastly an“all or nothing” campaign can be quite useful if your fundraiser is raising money for something that really does require the full amount to be met e.g. the cost of an ambulance or the cost of an educational trip.

That being said “all or nothing” has its drawbacks too:

  • Psychological resistance to “all or nothing:”
    This model has become quite popular, particularly within the Jewish Orthodox community. After seeing so many of this style campaign and so frequently, the mantra, “All or nothing. Each dollar you give is quadrupled. 24 hours only” has become rote and even suspect. People ask themselves, “Do they really expect me to believe they won’t reach the goal? Or that those matching donors won’t still donate if they don’t? Come on!”
  • Potentially offensive:
    CauseMatch recently ran a campaign for One Family that was ALL OR NOTHING. They had almost 1,500 donors and raised $700,000. Not bad! However the feedback we got from their community was “How could you dare to run an all-or-nothing campaign. These are victims of terrorism! It is unconscionable that you would not give them the benefit of my donation if they don’t reach the goal!” Lesson learned. Some campaign topics are just inappropriate for an all-or-nothing model
  • Uncertainty: 
    If you are reaching for an ambitious goal and have serious doubts about your organization’s ability to reach the goal, then having a “keep-what-you-raise” campaign is probably a smarter play. This is especially true if you have never run a crowdfunding campaign before.

In conclusion, each organization needs to determine what model is best for them. We generally recommend all-or-nothing campaigns since they ultimately do add more traction or excitement to the campaign. This is especially true if you plan to involve many of your staff members and/or volunteers since it will seriously motivate them. That being said, there are many contexts where all-or-nothing is just not the best model.