Scheduling a crowdfunding campaign

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Thinking of using crowdfunding to raise money for school resources? Our expert explains how much time to set aside for each part of the process...

How much time should you allow to run a crowdfunding campaign?

Executing a successful crowdfunding campaign requires a good plan, passion and dedication. The amount of time you need to allow will depend on a number of factors:

  • Does your campaign have a deadline by which you need to collect funds? For example, if you are raising money for a science workshop for National Science and Engineering Week in March, you
    will need to collect the funds with enough time to book the supplier.
  • How long will it take for funds to be collected upon completion? Stripe payments are usually transferred within seven days, but offline payments or matched giving funds may take longer to chase up.
  • How much time will you need to collate information about your project and to prepare any promotional collateral? For example, a new playground build may require input from stakeholders such as pupils and governors. And even once a supplier has been selected, plans can still involve some to-ing and fro-ing. You’ll need to have all your ducks in a row before you launch.
  • Factor in reward delivery dates. For example, if you are offering tickets to an event as an incentive, you will need to allow enough time after your project ends to deliver the reward to the donor.

How much time will the planning stage take?

The success of your campaign will largely depend on the amount of time and energy you invest in thorough planning. Don’t underestimate the amount of preparation involved! Most campaign creators will spend, on average, one hour a day. If you are running a big campaign you may need to allow even more time in order to keep supporters engaged. And the bigger your project, the more time it is likely to take to gather together all the supporting documentation required. A higher target also means higher stakes, therefore you will need to make your project sound as compelling as possible, and let the widest possible network of supporters know about it! Identifying and contacting potential donors, crafting targeted communications, and creating an engaging video and images to use on social media all takes time.

For how long should our campaign be ‘live’?

It is easier to create urgency and keep momentum going with campaigns of around four to six weeks in length. Longer campaigns tend to have a period in the middle where engagement goes flat. There are things you can do to combat this but you might want to consider running a shorter campaign and putting more energy into it rather than spreading the effort over time. Consider setting your deadline at the end of a Sunday as many donations are made on weekends, when donors have more time. Use the table below as an approximate recommendation.

 

Target under £5,000

Target over £5,000

Plan and prepare

4-6 weeks

Up to 10 weeks

Recruit support

1 week

2 weeks

Launch and engage

6-8 weeks

6-12 weeks

Finish and follow up

1-2 weeks (plus updates) 

1-2 weeks (plus updates)

 

Step 1: Plan and prepare

Start your crowdfunding journey with a project that is straightforward and has a relatively modest target. After all, it’s better to run a small campaign successfully, then move on to a bolder project once you’ve built your confidence. Supporters are also more likely to back subsequent projects if your first one did well. In the planning stage you should:

  • Define what you want to achieve with your campaign – put yourself in your donors’ shoes and think about how the narrative will appeal to them,
  • Prepare full project costings, including maintenance and running costs, what you will do if you raise more than your target, and how you might find additional funding or scale back your project if you don’t meet the target amount,
  • Gather evidence from beneficiaries and stakeholders to show the impact your project will have, e.g. quotes, drawings,
  • Create a database of potential donors, broken into different sectors so that messages can be targeted accordingly,
  • Prepare visuals to help share your passion for your project and to inspire people to give,
  • Compile a promotional plan, identifying the different communication channels available, both offline and online,
  • Consider what rewards you can offer supporters as an incentive for them to be generous with their pledges!

Step 2: recruit supporters

You’ve identified friends, family, colleagues, community groups, suppliers, local influencers, and businesses working in the sectors relevant to your project, so now you’re ready to run a soft launch:

  • Select those you regard as your core supporters, and contact them via email or phone with a personal message that makes them feel like a special member of your inner circle. Ask them for feedback on your campaign and make any adjustments to the messaging in advance of your hard launch. Engaging supporters before you launch will help create hype, and adds credibility to your campaign,
  • Include a clear call to action in messages,
  • Aim to secure the first 10 donations before your campaign goes live. Put a small support team together and charge them with securing one pledge each!
  • What local and national press does your audience engage with? Are there any radio stations that could mention your campaign or interview you about it? Are there events coming up where you can promote your campaign to a relevant audience?

Step 3: Engage donors

Using your contact list, identify the communication channels you believe will be most successful. Each channel will require different messaging e.g. Facebook may be personal and friendly, whilst LinkedIn is a professional network and as such your messaging should be more formal. To ensure that your story is consistent, create a bank of messages that you can share with your support team. Include the following (but get creative!):

  • Who you are,
  • A few key sentences expressing the campaign’s goal,
  • Why your campaign is important / the impact it will have,
  • How funds raised will be spent,
  • Thank yous,
  • Milestones – launch day, first 10% donations, halfway point, two weeks to go, final countdown...
  • Interesting facts and statistics,
  • Testimonials from relevant people.

Review your supporters throughout the campaign, splitting them into those who have pledged and those who haven’t, tailoring messages accordingly. After the initial launch, you can expect a lull – updates featuring videos or messages from pupils or teachers will help invigorate your supporters. Remind people about the great rewards you have available.

Step 4: Finish and follow up

  • A week before your campaign ends, let all your contacts know that it’s the final week. Provide a progress report and give supporters a specific task – to share the campaign on social media, email friends who might be interested, etc,
  • Post daily social media updates to create a sense of urgency, but keep the messages light and funny rather than desperate! Keep thanking everyone for their support,
  • If you’ve reached your goal, think of creative ways to celebrate your success. If you’re yet to achieve your target, don’t panic! Most campaigns reach their goal in the final week. Review your promotion checklist to see whether any tweaks need to be made to harness the last few donations,
  • Once your campaign has finished, thank your supporters. Post an update on your campaign page – donors will get an automated email when you post an update. Celebrate on social media, sharing images where possible,
  • Fulfil rewards – your campaign dashboard provides details of the donors for each reward level,
  • Keep donors updated on your project’s progress, using photos, news, press coverage or anything else you have,
  • Finally, stay connected – your donors have shown that they care about your school, so nurture these relationships and show them that you value their contribution.

About our expert

Jonathan May is a well-connected and highly respected crowdfunding expert. He is Director of the UK Crowdfunding Association and a member of the Westminster Crowdfunding Forum – an advisory board to Whitehall. His technical background and creative vision continue to steer Hubbub’s success.