How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
[Above image is curtesy of Getty images]
Most crowdfunding platforms have tips on their websites to help you setup your campaign. However, as mentioned before, crowdfundraising is not a new concept; the internet has just made it more accessible to everyone. Hence some of the traditional tips for fundraising that apply offline also apply online. Crowdfunding is not automatic or easy, be prepared to work hard at planning before, during and after your campaign is launched. Below are some essential steps you need to take:
- Invest in building a community of supporters long before you launch a fundraising campaign. Have a monthly newsletter that goes to all your networks and use social media to expand the reach of your network and to communicate your successes and share your work. Engage with your audience and invite them to your events.
- Create a crowdfundraising campaign team. Campaigns led by a team get more donations than those led by individuals.
- Set specific, time-bound and realistic objectives. Your supporters need to have a concrete idea about how their donations will be used. Indicate 3 to 4 clear and measurable objectives.
- Your fundraising monetary goal needs to be realistic and conservative. To decide do an actual cost analysis of how much you need to implement your project; then look at the size of your network of “real” supporters. Indiegogo advices that you should plan to get about 30 percent of donations from your direct network and community. Don’t forget to filter in processing fees of the crowdfunding platform that you will use as well as the cost of awards or perks (if you choose to offer them). Be conservative and choose a minimum funding amount that will allow you to meet your objectives.
- The length of your campaign should allow you to build momentum and at the same time engage with your audience for a sufficient amount of time. Shorter campaigns are usually more effective. Remember that your campaign will require human resources as well as a lot of follow-up and interaction with your audience, hence 30 days is much more reasonable than 60.
- Prepare your communication/media pitch: both Indiegogo and Kickstarter stress that projects with a video are much more successful. Producing a video does not have to be expensive or of professional quality, but make sure that it is short (3 to 4 minutes) and explains who you are, what you want to do and how. The more personal your video the better, so try to tell a personal and compelling story– people often donate because they believe in individuals. Also, write a short narrative description that you can add below the video and send to your closest friends and community via email.
- Pick an image and title: your title should be short and should capture the essence of your project.
- Do a soft launch: draw a list of your closest friends and supporters and contact them before the official launch to ask them to make a contribution within the first three days. This will help you start above the zero mark. Building this early momentum will encourage those outside your network to donate when they see that others have already done so.
- Spread the word: count on your personal network of friends, family and professional supporters fore and foremost. Prepare email lists and a description of the project beforehand. Include clear directions of how to donate and provide a link to your campaign page. Use social media to spread the word and ask your main supporters to share.
- Reach your donors wherever they are. If some of your essential supporters are shy with using technology to donate, reach them in the way that is most comfortable for them. Consider hosting an offline fundraiser to supplement your crowdfunding campaign. Allow supporters to give via cash, cheques or to send credit via text messaging.
“Long-term communication after your fundraiser is done builds credibility with your community and demonstrates impact that ensures future support.”
- Thanking your backers is key. All crowdfunding platforms send an automatic confirmation and a thank you message to donors after each contribution. However, a personal message of gratitude goes a long way. Some perks include handwritten postcards and thank you notes. Thanking your donors during the campaign allows you to update them on how your campaign is doing, and to ask them to help out by recruiting a friend or two and spreading the message to their networks.
- Long-term communication and updates. Once your crowdfunding campaign is over plan to send two to three updates during the implementation phase of your project. They can be short videos or text supported by photos. Long-term communication after your fundraiser is done builds credibility with your community and demonstrates impact that ensures future support.
- Learn and capture lessons. Most crowdfunding platforms have analytics and metrics to track the progress of your campaign in real time. You can know things like: the number of people who visited your page, the geographic location of your backers, how much is being donated per day and where the donations are coming from (email solicitations, facebook, twitter, etc..). In Indiegogo, for example you can also see how much everyone in your campaign team is raising. Collectively this data can be used to help you see what outreach strategies are working best, and what you may need to change for the next time.