What makes a good project?
You may be seeking funding for several different projects, but if this is your first crowdfunding campaign, I’d suggest concentrating on a project that is likely to motivate your community to donate. You will need to create a compelling story which illustrates how beneficiaries will prosper as a result.
Explain how you will deliver the project, in what time-frame and who will benefit. Consider the amount of funding this project requires – a successful launch project will enable you to follow up with subsequent campaigns in the future, so set an achievable target. Use previous fundraising appeals as a guide for your minimum target.
We've identified a project. What next?
Crowdfunding is all about people power, so the first thing to do is check that your existing database is up-to-date and contact other relevant groups or businesses that might be motivated to get behind your project. The average individual has 170 contacts on social media, so assuming you get your pitch right, for every person you tell, you will very quickly reach thousands more potentially interested supporters!
When is the best time to launch?
Obviously avoid particularly busy or quiet periods, such as Christmas, exam season or the summer holidays, but otherwise
the main consideration is when do you need the money? Campaigns can run from two weeks to three months, but we’ve found that projects up to a month in length tend to be the most successful.
A shorter project conveys a sense of urgency, focuses your promotional efforts and makes it easier to maintain momentum.
Plan a detailed schedule for your project from before launch to beyond the deadline. This should include time to forge new links beforehand, dates for ongoing communications, and updates for supporters with the progress of your project once your target has been met.
Allow up to seven days for Stripe payments (credit/debit cards) to arrive in your account. Don’t forget to add a bit extra to your target to cover UK credit card transaction charges – 20p flat fee plus 1.9% of each donation.
How do we get our project noticed?
Think of this as an advertising campaign – why do so many people share the John Lewis advert every Christmas, or funny cat videos? What will make people want to share your project? Research similar crowdfunding campaigns – were they successful, and how engaging was the pitch? Give your project a simple, attention-grabbing strapline and spend some time creating eye-catching visuals to be used on your website, social media, in blogs, etc.
Consider creating a one- to two-minute video explaining how funds will be used, who will benefit and how. Other crowdfunding platforms have found that projects with videos are 147% more likely to succeed. Reach out to all contacts with a personal message, use images on social media to boost engagement, email or call relevant local businesses and organisations, get posters and flyers printed, and prepare a press release for the local newspaper and radio station.
Once all your campaign collateral is ready, test it out on a few friends to gauge impact. At least a week before your project starts, build excitement with a 'soft' launch in the school newsletter, via email, on Facebook and Twitter – with a link to your project page. As your deadline approaches you can promote your project more vigorously, stressing the remaining amount required for your goal to be achieved.
What should we include on our project page?
Donors will want to know how their hard-earned cash will be spent, and that they can trust you to deliver. Cost out your funding target and provide a sensible plan to show donors that your project is feasible. Outline how additional funds will be used should you exceed your fundraising target, and what you plan to do in the event of a shortfall.
Should we offer rewards and what should these be?
Rewards are what you give donors in return for their donations. They give an added incentive for people to sponsor your project, but need to be well matched to the appropriate donation level.
What would make you back this project? Rewards should be aligned to your project or school, and might range from hand-written thank you cards from pupils, to money-can’t-buy experiences such as front-row seats at the end-of-year production!
Rewards help encourage donors to pledge more than they had planned – the offer of tickets-for-two to the next PTA event might mean they double their original pledge, while having the new IT suite named after them might entice a local company to meet the £5,000 donation tier.
Is there anything else we need to think about?
Say thank you and stay connected! Send personal emails to particularly generous donors or groups with whom you want to forge stronger links.
Continue to post regular updates throughout your project to nurture an ongoing relationship with sponsors – that way they are more likely to support future initiatives!
Jonathan May is a 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.