Posted by Dana Ostomel

“Great Scott!” #GivingTuesday is less than six months away. Is your nonprofit ready to go? #GivingTuesday offers a chance to use crowdfunding to your advantage and raise a lot of money in a short amount of time. When done right, crowdfunding and #GivingTuesday go hand in hand, and give a serious boost to your nonprofit fundraising efforts. Still not entirely sure on the whole “crowdfunding” thing? No problem, that’s what we’re here for.

Does the phrase “Save the clock tower!” sound familiar at all? If so, it’s probably because it comes from the 1985 Academy Award winning movie, Back to the Future. In the film, the main character, Marty McFly, travels back in time to 1955 to repair the damage he did to history, then return back to 1985.

One key aspect of the film is the Hill Valley clock tower, situated in the middle of the town—Hill Valley, California—as a historic landmark (and crucial time-travel component later on, but no spoilers). In one of the first scenes of the movie, Marty is approached by a woman rattling a can and exclaiming, “Save the clock tower!”

She quickly explains how there is an initiative to replace the clock after lightning struck the clock tower 30 years ago and it hasn’t rung since. But, she says, the Hill Valley Preservation Society thinks it should be preserved exactly the way it is. Marty quickly hands over a quarter to quiet her down, but doesn’t escape her chatting and of course, a flyer.

Poor Hill Valley Preservation Society. If only they had heard about the benefits of crowdfunding and how it could support their cause. So, how could crowdfunding have saved the clock tower in Back to the Future? Well, we may not have been there back in 1955, but we’ve got a few ideas for the present.

  1. Crowdfunding would’ve gotten the word out.

    First, utilizing a crowdfunding platform instead of walking around shouting at people would have definitely gotten the word out faster about saving the clock tower. Online crowdfunding can be shared, is efficient and has potential for an enormous reach. A single crowdfunding page can be shared via social media, email or even word of mouth.

    Just imagine if the Hill Valley Preservation Society had that kind of reach! Rather than telling just Marty and Jennifer about trying to save the clock tower, the woman could have shared it on her Facebook page with 500 friends, who in turn could share it on their pages and so on and so forth. Crowdfunding offers a fast and efficient way to tell about your nonprofit organization’s fundraising efforts in a short amount of time.

  2. Crowdfunding is easier than a tin can.

    Consider this: For every donation the Hill Valley Preservation Society received, they had to carry around those tin cans, bring them back to their location, dump them out, count out the money by hand and then deposit in a bank account. Sounds like a lot of work, when crowdfunding could have been a simpler solution.

    With crowdfunding, technology collects and counts the money for you. Your nonprofit organization only needs to manage the campaign. Once the campaign finishes, the money can easily be collected in one secure online network. No difficulty coordinating with multiple team members. No counting. No going to the bank. All in one easy-to-use financial location.

  3. Crowdfunding is better than a flyer.

    Now, let’s talk about the flyer. The flyer may be useful, but not entirely effective. More than likely, Marty took the flyer from the woman, gave it a quick glance, then went home and threw it away (if it even made it that far). With a crowdfunding platform, though, your nonprofit can achieve similar goals with even better results.

    What uses does the flyer have? It probably explains the story behind the Hill Valley Preservation Society, why the clock tower matters and how community members can get involved and take action. Sounds like the perfect information to provide on a crowdfunding page. Through crowdfunding, your nonprofit organization can tell its story, what matters most to the cause, your mission, what you intend to do with donations and how people can contribute.

    The biggest difference between your crowdfunding site and a flyer, though? People can’t throw it away. They can continue to refer back to it with any questions, share the page with others and even donate multiple times. You meet the goal of telling your story and raise even more money.

  4. Crowdfunding brings the community together.

    Finally, the most important part of the Hill Valley Preservation Society’s goal to preserve the clock tower: bringing the community together. They saw the clock tower as something historic, uniting and valuable to the public. It was a symbol of the town, regardless if it worked or not. It had brought everyone together for the past 30 years, and they wanted to keep it that way.

    Crowdfunding does the same exact thing, but on an even larger scale. Rather than engaging with a few community members who happen to hear through word of mouth about an issue, crowdfunding draws in everyone who cares about a cause and unites them through it. Your nonprofit organization can tap into this common compassion and use it to generate donors.

    If the Hill Valley Preservation Society had crowdfunding as a resource, perhaps they could have garnered more than just local residents as supporters—potentially national historic preservation organizations, individuals who cared about the town but lived elsewhere or even people who wanted to maintain landmarks in their original condition. When it comes to crowdfunding, the ideas to building community are endless.

    Needless to say, if the Hill Valley Preservation Society had had crowdfunding back in 1985, they could have been a little more successful in saving the historic town clock tower. Luckily today, valuable nonprofit organizations have this resource at their fingertips to raise funds and make a difference in their communities. If you’re interested in starting a crowdfunding campaign for your NGO, check out this article on How to Make the Most of Your Crowdfunding Campaign.

    #GivingTuesday is just around the corner, so don’t be like the Hill Valley Preservation Society. Check out crowdfunding to see how it can help your organization raise money and grow your cause. You might just find yourself shouting “Great Scott!” from excitement.

Crowdfunding is an effective way to boost your fundraising efforts, especially if you know the tips and tricks for making it really work. We’d love to help! Learn more about crowdfunding and how Firespring can set you up for success. Give us a call at 877.477.8941 or email