Successful crowdfunding campaigns contain all or most of these elements. Finding the right mix and idea will depend on your organization, your donor base, and your development plan. Once the ideas are on the table (as well as your goal and timeline) – then it’s time to go shopping for a platform, not vice versa. Starting with a platform will limit your vision to the capabilities of one platform – limiting your ability to maximize your crowdfunding capabilities.
(Again: successful crowdfunding raises more money in less time and generates more support!) There are five elements that propel success in a crowdfunding campaign:
If you can pack them all into one campaign – you’ve got a winner.
1. Compelling: Something has to compel your audience to give. For example, contributing to a fund for recently orphaned terror victims is compelling. However, contrary to popular belief, your cause doesn’t have to be the compelling piece. Funding the annual campaign at a religious organization isn’t compelling. But, offer to quadruple your community’s donations in your crowdfunding campaign, like the way a charidy.com crowdfunding campaign is structured – and your crowd will come much faster. Quadrupling their impact is compelling. Or, like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: the action was compelling – it was fun. Often people think in terms of a specific project when they try to make their campaign compelling. Think outside the box to ensure you’ve added true ‘compelling’ to your campaign. This is the element that cuts through the static.
2. Urgency: Urgency helps break through the inertia barrier and inbox pileup. Emergencies = natural urgency. Without a natural urgency, setting a deadline helps donors know there will be an end to your communications and a time by which they have to act or risk missing the boat.
3. Connection/Crowd: Your organization’s and your supporters’ connections will generate the bulk of your donations. First – engage your immediate community in giving. Second: Your community’s friends. People will even give to a cause they’ve never heard of or don’t believe in, for example: if their friend is running a marathon and asks them for support to reach their personal goal and contribute to their cause. Enabling your supporters to reach out to their connections properly can help you access outside money beyond your existing donor base. If you do not have a crowd or community you’re connected to, you cannot crowdfund successfully – you will crawl.
4. Communication: There needs to be a crowd you can reach via direct communication channels. Announcements on social media channels help create awareness – addressing people individually, emailing them, calling them, engaging them in an in-person or live-streaming event, etc. generates action (donations). Acknowledging gifts as they come in, addressing potential donors with personal or heartfelt emails, respecting their inbox and time by not inundating them with repeat solicitations – these are key to respectful, constructive communication. It also = effort on your part. Lazy crowdfunding communication = lackluster crowdfunding support.
5. Platform: Price is the WRONG parameter by which to judge a platform. There are so many different features to each platform that can help create or impede success – that I will save that for another post. How to judge each one will depend on the form of crowdfunding campaign you’re designing. But EASE of USE is a huge, often overlooked element. If you’re going to be engaging individuals outside of your organization to set up their own pages to fundraise for you- then, start there. Don’t take the word of the platform. Test with your own people: engage three likely volunteers to set up a page of their own.
To review. Ask yourself:
1. Is my campaign compelling and create a sense of urgency?
2. Do I have a crowd that feels connected to me and/or my cause?
3. Do I have a communication strategy to engage them?
4. Have I found a user-friendly platform with the best features for my campaign?
PS: Is my goal and timeline realistic yet ambitious?
Designing a campaign with these elements will hit you a home run beyond your wildest expectations. You will be able to set an ambitious fundraising goal, meet it within the time allotted, and rev up your crowd’s support for your cause creating a desire to engage with you beyond the campaign. If you would like help in reviewing your development plan and designing compatible crowdfunding campaigns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.