Do you have a big idea that would make the world a better place, if only you had the funds to make it happen? Well, no need to hope for a lottery win or an inheritance – crowdfunding may be just the funding source you need to turn your dream into a reality today.
We often associate crowdfunding with campaigns selling products, or artists raising money to create music and movies, but there are also crowdfunding websites dedicated to helping make social good happen.
Crowdfunding paid for the Food Justice Truck, which provides affordable food to individuals who are denied the right to work. It funded Preciva, which developed a portable, affordable, cervical screening test that will save lives. And crowdfunding also helped pay for the learning community Mycelium, designed for aspiring entrepreneurs who value learning within a less formal structure.
These very different projects had two things in common. They aimed to do social good, and they all raised funds to make their projects happen through StartSomeGood, a crowdfunding platform specifically designed to support social entrepreneurs around the globe. You can check out their campaigns here: Food Justice Truck, Preciva, and Mycelium. With campaigns that run online for between 30-45 days, they raised the money they needed, strengthened their network of supporters and set the groundwork for a sustainable future; and you can too.
Crowdfunding is one way to help you test your idea without spending your life savings in order to see if you have a keeper. Here are some tips and tricks to help you use crowdfunding to bring your own project to life:
Remember that you have a lot of competition
Think of how many crowdfunding campaigns are sent your way every day via Facebook and Twitter and multiply that number by a thousand or more. That’s your competition. Just think: Potato salad guy. Your idea is better. You just need people to find out about it.
You have to work hard
It’s important that you are prepared to work hard to ensure the world knows about your project. Many campaigns fail because the people running the campaigns honestly think that all they have to do is throw a campaign up online and people will just magically find it and contribute. It really doesn’t work like that.
Remember that your goal is to not only find your target audience but to connect with them and convince them that they should support your project. You need to tell them that you exist and give them reason to care.
Clearly define your project and your funding goals
What, specifically, do you want to raise money to do today? How much do you need to take the next step?
Design short, project specific campaigns with all-or-nothing funding goals
StartSomeGood and Kickstarter both use the all-or-nothing model which creates a sense of urgency that encourages your donors to contribute today. You’ll reach your funding goals because you have to, and your donors will trust you more because they’ll know you’re able to follow through on what you said you were going to do. If it doesn’t matter how much you raise and when, consider just adding a donate button to your website and sending people there.
Set your timeline and line up your first donors
Crowdfunding is not passive fundraising. It’s about saying “We need to raise money now and here’s why. Will you help us?” Make your campaign short and powerful, and be prepared to make it your top priority for the 3 or 4 weeks it’s live. If you don’t have your outreach plan in place and your first ten donors lined up, don’t launch. The “crowd” won’t show up until you demonstrate that at least your mom and your roommate like your idea.
Create a great video
Your campaign video can be one of the most important elements of your campaign page, and should not be taken lightly. It’s an opportunity to introduce yourself and your project to the world. Make it short, informative, funny, and authentic. Your passion and enthusiasm for your project will shine through, so be sure that you’re in it!
Ask, ask, and ask again
Your passion speaks volumes about the validity of your project, and your asking for others’ support will carry a lot more weight than a post on Facebook. Great momentum on social media does help, but the key donors who get your campaign going are almost exclusively your friends, family, and those in your extended personal network.
Eliminate all expectations of your friends
Ask for support, but keep in mind that your friends’ financial decisions are none of your business. Be pleasantly surprised when they donate and be sure to let them know exactly how much you appreciate their generosity.
Remember to thank your donors
Donor rewards can take an average campaign and make it outstanding.
Why bother with crowdfunding rewards? They’re not so much about the t-shirts (don’t you have enough already?) but about thanking your donors and acknowledging their contribution for helping to bring your dream to life. Make your rewards unique, campaign specific, and where possible, experiential. If you can invite your donors to a launch party, do it. And of course, take advantage of the opportunity to build your brand.
Want to learn more? Take the free Crowdfundng 101 email course on StartSomeGood.
See also: The Top 10 Crowdfunding Mistakes
Patty Simonton is the Director of Venture Support at StartSomeGood, a crowdfunding platform for social entrepreneurs and changemakers around the globe.
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