Gearing up for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

During the 2016 This Place Matters competition, participating project groups will compete for the votes of Canadians and have the opportunity to appeal to supporters for funds.

Are you ready for crowdfunding? Here are some tips that your project group should consider before getting started.

  1. Social media is key

Social media is a great tool for non-profits and an essential part of any crowdfunding campaign. Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms allow you to get your message out directly to stakeholders, interested groups and individuals, and potential funders.

Successful social media engagement requires regular maintenance to keep your profile current, and your followers interested. Your project group should plan to dedicate at least two hours, two or three days a week, to managing your social media accounts.

  1. Stories will inspire your supporters!

Everyone loves a story – and heritage sites have stories to tell. The story about your project should be compelling and engaging. It should clearly state how the money you raise will be used and demonstrate how it will impact your community. People are more willing to fund a campaign that is unique or special, when the need is urgent, and when they clearly understand what their money will go towards.

  1. Pictures and videos will bring your story to life

Tell your story in photos and videos. Average attention span on a webpage is very short. So use visuals to tell your story. This Place Matters website allows you to post videos. Again, keep in mind the attention span of your page viewers. A video should be no longer than 45 to 60 seconds, be very focussed in its message, be entertaining, and inspire your viewers.

  1. If you build it they may not come!

Crowdfunding can be a powerful way to raise money for a cause. But, only a small percentage of crowdfunding projects go viral. You have to work at bringing people to you. That means organizing a campaign team to get the word out through their contacts and networks and keeping that team engaged throughout your campaign.

Have you ever sold raffle tickets to support your organization, or organized an event and had a team selling tickets? That’s crowdfunding, only now you’re doing it on the internet and reaching out to audiences through social media.

You will need to organize a team of volunteers who connect regularly to assess where you are and what your next steps are. Remember to involve youth on your team. They are a great resource for technology expertise and social media skills.

Developing a critical path to plan the steps you will take throughout your campaign will help you keep your team on track and meet your project goals.

  1. Recruiting champions

In addition to your team of dedicated volunteers, you will need champions in your community who are willing to support your campaign. Champions can help you extend your social media reach to audiences you may not have access to. You are looking for high profile leaders – politicians, business people, activists, and community volunteers – who have access to broad social networks and are willing to reach out to them to support your campaign.

  1. Peaks & valleys

There is an ebb and flow to crowdfunding campaigns. The initial launch starts off with a blast with all the media and attention generated by your first round of social media messages. But then activity on your page flattens, the initial excitement of the launch fades, and supporters lose interest. Then again towards the end of the campaign as all your “final push” messages go out it picks up again.

Crowdfunding takes a lot of energy and team work! A project group should have a plan for how to sustain their campaign and manage the peaks and valleys. You can change photos and update your videos along the way. If you have a loyal base of close friends and supporters, consider asking them to wait to make their donations so you can orchestrate a wave of support to get you through that middle period or final push.

  1. Set a realistic campaign goal

Setting your crowdfunding campaign goal is a tightrope act. People like to back a winner. Set it too high and you look like a loser. Set it too low and funders think you have more than you need.

The goal of your crowdfunding campaign is not necessarily the full cost of your project. Set a goal you have a reasonable expectation of achieving over the span of the campaign. Assess the networks you have access to and their capacity to give. Think about how you can reach new networks.

If you have a big-budget project, focus your crowdfunding campaign on smaller, distinctive aspects of it [i.e. the project may be the restoration of a community town hall, but the crowdfunding campaign is to restore the original bell tower].

  1. This one’s a bonus!

Have fun! Crowdfunding is a great way to build volunteer support, create public awareness about your project, and add new supporters to your database. Unlike some methods of fundraising, there is minimal financial risk and lots of new expertise to be gained.