Your Guide to Successful Crowdfunding
Successful crowdfunding doesn’t mean that money appears out of thin air. Where does it come from, you ask? Well, all you need to know is right there in the word itself: crowd! For a successful crowdfunding campaign, you need to be specific – who exactly makes up the crowd to whom you’re appealing for funds?
Base Your Goal on Your Network
Evaluate your organization’s reach based on your existing supporters, and base your goal on that. While of course, some of your dedicated supporters are going to spread the word on the campaign to their own networks, in general, you shouldn’t expect a bulk of your donations to come from those without an existing connection to your organization and mission. An unrealistic goal will only hurt your campaign, as potential donors can lose faith in your cause if they see that you’re very far off from your target, believing it shows your organization doesn’t know how to get the job done.
Where to Get the Crowd
Let’s get practical about securing the crowd that will be so crucial to your success. You have three options: buy, build, or borrow.
You can BUY a target crowd for your campaign through pay per click marketing, boosting posts on Facebook and other social media platforms.
You can BORROW a crowd by working with people who already have one – think celebrity endorsements, influence marketing, guest blog posts, and so on.
Finally, you can BUILD a crowd through online visibility work around your brand and cause – community management, social media engagement techniques, and a robust online presence to back both up. Remember, it will still take an investment, be in financial or in staff hours to build or borrow a crowd – reaching new people never comes effortlessly or for free!
Don’t Start From Zero
There are multiple levels to a successful crowdfunding campaign. Level one, consisting of friends, family, and your most loyal supporters, should be lined up to donate before the campaign even launches. From there, donations can continue to snowball – first to friends, extended family, neighbours, and coworkers, then to acquaintances and friends of levels one and two, then finally to the broader, national or global community – the true “crowd”.
Carefully Craft Your Story
Think of all your campaign’s content, whether it’s text or visual, blog or social media, as working together to tell a story. All your messaging should be ready to go well in advance, making sure everything is cohesive and well thought-out. The campaign’s goal should be clear, telling a story to potential donors that’s engaging, sympathetic, and impact-oriented. Make sure this campaign identity is woven into all donor messaging, shareable social content, and campaign updates.
Focus on Impact
As you tell your campaign’s story, make sure you make it about whoever the donations will truly help – not about your nonprofit itself. For example, rather than saying “we need the money to stay in operation for another year”, say “once we meet our donation goal, a new class of low-income children will be able to start the school year with all the books and supplies they need!”
This approach can be woven into your campaign updates and donor messaging, too. As you hit milestones on your way to your final goal, try phrasing updates in an impact-focused way, such as “now three abandoned dogs have loving homes”, instead of “we’ve reached 25% of our target”. Another idea would be phrasing donor acknowledgment in terms of the impact of their donation, such as “thanks to your hard work, this special program will help learning-disabled kids succeed for another calendar year!”
Make it Specific
The best crowdfunding campaigns are centred around a clear and time-sensitive goal. A general, rolling campaign, that is constantly accruing donations for your nonprofit’s operational costs, will be viewed as too general, and is unlikely to be successful.
Try launching the campaign around a specific project that’s important to your organization’s mission, like new homes that need to be built if you’re a humanitarian organization, or the launching of a new play if you’re an arts collective. Crowdfunding also pairs well with peer to peer fundraising: try linking the campaign to a walkathon or similar event.
Make Use of Video
Here at FundRazr, one of our top tips is that video is the most powerful type of content. Humans are visual creatures, and there’s something about seeing a campaign story played out before your eyes that evokes an emotional response unlike any other medium.
Believe it or not, campaigns that take advantage of video content have been shown to bring in four times as many donations as campaigns that don’t. Adding video doesn’t need to be a hassle – while it’s a common misconception that producing video is intimidating and expensive, even a quick video shot on your phone will have a positive effect on your campaign’s reach and final success.
Here is an example of an amazing crowdfunding campaign to support Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside Market. In this video, Constance shows delivery of one of the wish list items (hygienic hand-washing station) donated by the campaign supporters.
Stay in Touch
Acknowledge your supporters from your very first connection. The ultimate goal of crafting a cohesive, engaging campaign story is for all your supporters – even those who haven’t donated yet – to feel like they’re coming along on a journey with you, invested in both your nonprofit’s greater mission and the success of this particular campaign.
Stay on top of campaign updates – notifying everyone of how you’re doing will help them feel included. Send out updates over email as well as social media, and consider reaching out personally to active donors and supporters, especially post-campaign to thank them for their generosity.