“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.”
Crowdfunding continues to move into new spheres, and social justice fundraising is proving to be an important catalyst for change and progress. In 2017, a year in which issues of gender, race, immigration, social justice, and the environment stood at the forefront of the national conversation, for example, the numbers of YouCaring fundraising campaigns addressing social justice causes increased by 34%.
Are you ready to be part of social change? What’s your specific social justice issue? Hunger? Poverty? Human rights? Climate justice? Once you’ve zeroed in on the exact area where you want to make a change, find out which existing organizations are actively working on the issue (see the list below for resources). Then decide whether you want to support your issue of choice by raising funds for an established group, or for your own social justice action.
Are you crowdfunding for a direct action or an existing organization?
In the world of social justice fundraising, people either raise funds for an action they plan to take themselves or for an organization that’s already doing work they want to support.
If you’re running a fundraiser for your own action, it’s important to be clear in your crowdfunding campaign about exactly how the funds will be used. You’ll need to inspire trust with potential donors. You’ll also need to tell your story well.
If your crowdfunding campaign will raise money to donate to a well-known organization, then the focus of your campaign shifts from legitimizing your effort toward revealing your personal investment in the cause. Why is it so important to you? Make a clear and compelling case that inspires donations.
Do you need the official blessing of an organization?
You might wonder whether you need to officially partner with an organization in order to raise money for it. The answer is no.
On YouCaring, people raise money for charitable organizations every day—they simply make it clear which organization the funds will go to in the end. Often, this adds a kind of halo to the fundraiser. Make it clear that your campaign doesn’t officially represent or speak for the organization—you’re simply giving them the funds at the end of your campaign.
How can you harness media flashpoints?
You might have arrived at this page in the middle of a media flashpoint around a particular social justice issue—such as the recent wave of activism in the NFL.
The forward progress of social justice is like a body of water continuously pushing against a dam that eventually breaks. While media flashpoints happen unpredictably, longtime activists understand the importance of harnessing them to catalyze public pressure and push for long-sought reforms—and fundraising goals.
If you can, take advantage of times when the spotlight shines on your cause. Few times are better to launch a fundraiser, connect with like-minded people, and change the conversation around your issue.
Best practices for running a social justice fundraiser
Here are some guidelines for crafting a successful crowdfunding campaign for social justice.
Put the “social” in “social justice” by teaming up with friends, family, or anyone who shares a passion for your cause. Fundraising is easier and more fun when you aren’t overburdened and can divide tasks among your team. Also, when it comes time to share and promote your fundraiser, you’ll have far more reach with the combined power of your networks.
As with any fundraiser, it’s important to post frequent updates to make donors part of the story. Show what their donations mean to you and to the cause, and you’ll keep people connected to your campaign. Updates also help inspire repeat donations and shares.
Consider creating a hashtag for your campaign, then pair it with a hashtag for your cause (such as #ClimateJustice) when you share it socially. Hashtags help other like-minded people find and link to, your fundraiser. Check out these other helpful social media fundraising tools.
Last but definitely not least, thank your donors. If people feel good about the contribution they made, they’re not only more likely to continue supporting you but more likely to become advocates themselves.
Which social justice causes and organizations can you crowdfund for?
Thousands of nonprofit organizations are working for social justice every day. To pinpoint an organization to crowdfund for, get specific about the cause you want to support.
Below are a few suggested organizations listed by category to help you get started. Note that these are just some of the higher-profile organizations in each area. At the end of this list, you’ll find more fundraising ideas and tips to help you get the ball rolling.
“For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
“Human Rights Watch … consists of human rights professionals including country experts, lawyers, journalists, and academics of diverse backgrounds and nationalities. Established in 1978, Human Rights Watch is known for its accurate fact-finding, impartial reporting, effective use of media, and targeted advocacy, often in partnership with local human rights groups.”
“A member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes … We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement.”
“America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, LDF seeks structural changes to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice in a society that fulfills the promise of equality for all Americans.”
“Trump repealed DACA on September 5th. This is a crisis for DACA recipients, our families, and the entire undocumented community of 11 million. But we will not go back into the shadows. We are coming together and organizing actions across the country. We urgently need resources to support these actions.”
“CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
“Building the power and passion of the progressive Jewish movement in America by bringing together Jews from across the country to advocate and organize for a more just and equal society.”
“As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community.”
“The leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”
“We imagine a world without discrimination and inequality, and we work to achieve that vision every day. We make the case for equality in the nation’s courts and in the court of public opinion. The work we do has an impact on the way all of us live—we change laws, policies, and ideas.”
“Equality Now stands in support of the thousands of women around the world who are speaking out about their sexual abuse and sexual harassment … It’s on all of us to end our cultural acceptance that sexual harassment is normal.”
“NOW’s purpose is to take action through intersectional grassroots activism to promote feminist ideals, lead societal change, eliminate discrimination, and achieve and protect the equal rights of all women and girls in all aspects of social, political, and economic life.”
“The Arc promotes and protects the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and actively supports their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes.”
“Exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustice.”
“The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally.”
“One of the world’s largest environmental organizations, with more than two million members and a staff of 675 scientists, economists, policy experts, and other professionals around the world. We believe prosperity and environmental stewardship must go hand in hand.”
“Helping to build a healthier, more prosperous and more productive planet … through science, policy, and partnerships with countries, communities and companies … has helped support 1,200 protected areas and interventions across 77 countries, safeguarding more than 601 million hectares of land, marine and coastal areas. ”
“The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation.”
“We believe water is the way. To break the cycle of poverty. To protect and save lives. To make a bright future possible for all. We’ve empowered more than 7 million people with access to safe water and sanitation.”
“A global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.”
“The nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization – with three million members and supporters. Our successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.”
“Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. We’re building an army of young people to make climate change an urgent priority across America, end the corrupting influence of fossil fuel executives on our politics, and elect leaders who stand up for the health and well-being of all people.”
“The leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. We address the most pressing conservation threats at the largest scale.”
Again, these are just some of the more high-profile organizations working for social justice today—if you don’t see one here that addresses your specific cause, search on platforms such as Charity Navigator and Philanthropedia.
Justice cannot wait
Social justice fundraising can push your cause forward, and we’re here to help you every step of the way. Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, we’ll never take a penny of the money you raise for ourselves. There’s no time to lose—start your free social justice fundraiser today.
For more tips read How to Raise Money for Environmental Charities.