It is vital to have a compelling story and reason for your potential donors to give – simply asking for money is not enough. Spend time thinking of reasons that your campaign is important and note them to be used in your marketing materials.
Crowdfunding is a 60 to 90-day commitment. A significant amount of work must be put into your campaign, both before and after. Be sure that you understand what is expected and how much of your time will be required by your campaign.
Generally, you can expect to spend at least 30 days before your campaign to prepare and about 30 days after to spend on stewardship and any post-campaign issues and responsibilities that might arise.
At CU Anschutz, it’s easy to focus the marketing and outreach of your campaign toward a particular set of faculty or students because they have a direct connection to your campaign’s cause. But what if there is interest from others outside of your group? You may want to consider reaching out to any of the following groups to broaden your campaign:
members of your own organization
students, faculty and staff
family and friends
connections in the community who have an interest in your work
One important note: if you are reaching out to a list of contacts outside of your own network be sure that you have permission from the owner of that list.
Share the responsibilities of your campaign with your core members. It may be helpful to create a calendar of responsibilities and assign your core members to certain tasks. For instance, one member may respond to questions about the campaign on Tuesdays, while another sends thank you notes to donors every afternoon. The more people who work on and share your campaign responsibilities, the easier it will be to reach your goals.
If you have a list of people who you are confident will give to your campaign, reach out and ask if they will make their gifts within the first 3 days of launch. The quick jump in dollars raised will show other supporters that this is a popular cause and encourage more contributions.
You should use at least 3 platforms to reach out to your potential donors. Social media is vital for most crowdfunding campaigns. The core members of your group should be using both the group’s social media sites and their own personal social media pages to push for support.
Once gifts begin to arrive, the campaign’s supporters should be encouraged to use their own social media presence to push for support as well. The strength in crowdfunding comes from the “crowd”, and the more who share your campaign’s page, the better.
Sometimes you need to be explicit in order to secure a gift. Of course, not all communication pieces need to contain a direct ask for a contribution. Instead, be strategic with your asks in order to convey a sense of urgency in your campaign. Tie your asks to important campaign milestones. For instance, if your campaign is $100 away from the 50% mark, you may send an email or create a social media post with a line like the following: “We only need 5 more $20 gifts to reach 50% of our goal! Please follow the link to give and help us reach this important milestone.”
It also may help to “monetize” certain items for which your campaign is trying to raise funds. If your campaign seeks to purchase certain items with the donations received then knowing the cost of those items and featuring the cost in your marketing materials can be a strong call to action. For example, if your campaign seeks to purchase stethoscopes for $100 each then make your potential donors aware of that cost and make an ask for that amount. “A stethoscope for a new student costs $100, will you purchase a stethoscope for a student today?” gives the donor both an amount and specific reason to give. Similarly, saying “With the gifts we’ve raised so far, we will be able to send 20 students to London – help us raise funds to send 20 more!” is much more meaningful than saying “We are $500 away from meeting our goal to send students to London!”
Frequent (but not overwhelming) communication has the effect of making your potential supporters feel as though they are an integral part of the campaign. As mentioned above, it also helps create a sense of urgency by highlighting important milestones. The audience for each campaign is different – and there is a fine line between adequate communication and excessive communication – but if you’re unsure how or how often you should reach out to your potential donors, ask the crowdfunding manager.
Immediately after launch you should categorize your supporters into 2 broad groups – those who have given and those who have not. Most communications between these groups should be different. For those who have already pledged support to your campaign, overloading them with emails asking for additional contributions may not be helpful. Instead, focus on providing updates to the campaign and sharing the stories behind why your campaign is important.
“Segmentation” as those in the industry like to call it, doesn’t just apply to donors and non-donors. Consider the differences in the population you are trying to reach – faculty, students, family and friends all have different priorities and interests. At times it can be helpful to communicate with each group differently to get the most out of your campaign.
If possible, all of the contributors to your campaign should be thanked within 48 hours of their gift, especially those who give large donations. These thank you’s should be written personally by one of your group’s members. Should your group seek to fundraise again in the future these stewardship efforts will go a long way to encourage your supporters to give again.
While crowdfunding is a fairly new phenomenon, there’s already a plethora of successful strategies from which you can draw. Visit outside websites such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, etc. and search for their most successful campaigns. What worked for that group and can it be used in your own efforts? Can you identify anything that didn’t work?