Crowdfunding: easy peasy to set up, but how many lack-lustre campaigns have *you* seen?  Hub Storyteller Ann Storr spoke with Jes Bailey from Crowdfund 360 about what makes a successful campaign.

Planning your crowdfunder: 

A basic crowdfunder takes (roughly) 2 full days for 8 weeks to get up off the ground.  It is therefore important to know in advance whether you can commit the time needed.  A limp campaign can actually damage the very message that you want to communicate.  It’s also vital to double-check your campaign dates. For example, a campaign that launches at the end of the school year or 5 days before Christmas, is unlikely to succeed.

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Be a pessimist!  Start with the figure of 10% uptake.  You want £100K to launch a new product.  Say your mailing list has 10,000 people, that’s amazing. But ask yourself, how many people will actually open that mail?  Let’s say that 15% of people do.  Then we’re looking at 1,500 people in total.  And how many of them click through your mail?  Maybe 10%?  So that’s 150 people.  The average crowdfunder donation is £25. 150 people giving £25 is £3750. That’s a step in the right direction but …

… you need to speak to as many people as possible. If you are now thinking social media, that’s great!  Crowdfunding is and must be an integrated part of a social media and comms strategy.  It needs to fit into your organisation’s mission and message.  If you don’t have that strategy already, hold on – write an overall strategy and work out how crowdfunding feeds into it. Make sure your content is written before you kick off. When you’re building your strategy it’s essential to know that eye-contact is your friend.  This makes potential donors feel that there’s a relationship. Perceived interactivity is key, so have video and/or pictures where people giving testimonials about your crowdfunder are making eye-contact ‘through’ the screen.

You have to catch people at the right time with hard, take-home messages: ask a friend to look at your draft comms. If they can’t understand your message within 5 seconds, then ask them what they think is going on and keep editing until it’s utterly clear.  Your crowdfunder is your life but it is not your audience’s life!  Make it easy for them to want to give to you. 

A compelling story is essential.  Make sure that your story involves a diversity of voices. Say your social enterprise helps school kids to access free music lessons and you want funding to move into more schools to help more kids.  People need to hear from children who have the lessons and kids who want the free lessons in their school, parents who are grateful for the lessons, teachers who see the difference in the kids’ performance and happiness, musicians or employers who see the soft skill benefits, the local MP who loves the employment assistance… These layers add trust to your story (remember we just talked about eye-contact), show that you have thought through your crowdfunder, how the money will be used, who it will benefit, and that it is likely to be useful and, in fact, that it isn’t a fraud. 

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Launching … with money already in the pot 

Launch your campaign at 2-3pm on a Tuesday afternoon.  But launch it privately on Monday night.  You need to check that all your links work, that the PayPal works, all the details need to be right.  It’s essential to launch your crowdfunder with a little money in the pot and you want to be at 30% within the first few days.  So you need to donate! You must be the first one, then your family and friends. Crowd psychology tells us that no-one likes to be the first person to the party. If asked to choose, where would you rather have your Friday night dinner? At the half full restaurant with the nice vibe? Or the empty one with some desperate looking wait staff? You want lots of small donations from many people (hey, in addition to some nice chunky donations), so that’s where you and your mates come in.  A high-profile, generous donor is particularly useful (if you know someone…).

Beware your facebook profile.  The general rule is to keep a clear line between personal and professional profiles and content.  So if you accept  anyone as a facebook friend, then remember that you have basically a public profile. This could have a detrimental effect on your crowdfunder. At the same time, make sure to promote your crowdfunder through your private profile, because a variety of givers is best. 

You can’t rush crowdfuning: Jes recommends 8 weeks of prep if you already have a donor base or strong and engaged social following. You can’t ask a stranger for £25 and expect that they trust you and invest in the way that you hope they would.  Crowdfunding is the same ask!  It is a huge amount of work but it should feed into and support your overall social media and comms goals.  Every picture, video and infographic means content that you can use again.  And one successful campaign means you can build on it and do another one in the future.

Jes Bailey is Founder of Crowdfund 360 an award winning crowdfunding consultancy that has an 80% success rate. She has recently run her 8 week training course for social enterprises at Impact Hub Brixton in Collaboration with Chuffed. If you are looking to crowdfund, get in touch with Jes at Crowdfund 360 for a free 20 minute consultation. Email her on info@crowdfund-360.com for that. Alternatively, take a look at her 8 week online course which will prepare you in everything related to your upcoming crowdfunding campaign and have you ready to launch after the 8 week training is complete. That can be bought here: https://www.crowdfund-360.com/?product=online-crowdfunding-training-course

Cat photo by Alain Pham on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash