What makes a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Crowdfunding is the process of funding a program or task with donations from a large number of people. It can be used to supplement traditional fundraising campaigns such as Giving Tuesday, and if done well it can be a major source of revenue to start new projects and endeavors. You already have your platform, now how can you optimize it to have your most successful giving season yet? Here are best practices and examples of our favorite past campaigns:
Set realistic goals
Before you start, ask yourself
- What is the problem you’re looking to solve?
- Whom or what are you trying to impact?
- How will you do it?
Your answers will help you break down your mission and story into a short-term, tangible action for your campaign that is either
- Item specific: “We want to host 10 events this year!”
- Dollar specific: “Help us fund a specific project by raising $1,000!”
- Time specific: “We are raising $10,000 during a Whale Awareness Month!”
Set a realistic timeline
Setting a reasonable and realistic timeline for your campaign is crucial for your success. Last year, Indiegogo reported that nearly a third (30.5%) of all the campaigns that met their goals ran between 30 to 39 days long. This makes sense, as there is enough time to build interest, engage the community, and keep them interested. Often, longer campaigns lose momentum, so if you do decide you need to extend your campaign, you should treat the second 30 days as a second campaign.
Take time to prepare
The better your preparation, the more money you raise as you now have the initial tools and time needed to set up a process that has raised countless millions since 2010. You should aim to spend at least 2 months of prep work to build a solid foundation for your campaign. The 1st month should focus on optimizing your social media platforms, and the 2nd should be for reaching out to your networks. It doesn’t help to rush. Take time to plan ahead, gather your best photos/videos and test out the platform to make sure all runs smoothly (and looks beautiful) when you go live. Write up 10-15 3-sentence descriptions of your project and send them to someone in your network for feedback; ask them if they would contribute and why/why not.
Use your networks!
In those 2 months of preparation, take the time to build up a good lead list and generate buzz. Install pop-ups, start sending emails to your lists, and have your staff share the campaign with their own networks.
Don’t know where to post?
We created a handy spreadsheet of the top crowdfunding platforms and tools for nonprofits. Sign up for our newsletter to download the list (plus even more resources)!
Aim for conversions, not traffic
Many campaigns focus on getting more eyeballs on their site in an effort to garner conversions. But the truth is, most campaigns end up with good enough traffic, but poor conversions. Make sure your copy focuses on the donation, as well as what the donor will get in return. What tangible impact will your organization be able to make with the money? Impact-focused rewards are more successful than gifts because they show that the money is going to good use, and do not encourage a bad habit for newcomers in which they always expect extrinsic rewards.
Friendship Bridge provides loans and education to impoverished women so they can start and expand businesses. By combining micro-loans with business training and education programs, they teach valuable skills, improve confidence, and lay the foundation for a pathway to empowerment. In 2016, they ran a “Health for Life” crowdfunding campaign to raise money to provide women in Guatemala with critical health services. For each possible donation amount, instead of offering a gift, they highlighted the impact a donation can have.
Film a pitch video
Campaigns with pitch videos raise four times more than those that do not. These videos show the many ways you can approach the pitch video: as a way to introduce your cause, to motivate and inspire action, to celebrate big wins, or to share stories.
Keep your audience updated
Post regularly on social media and your campaign page to remind your audience. Indiegogo found that, on average, successful campaigns posted at least 4 campaign updates during their duration. Change up your messaging so each post keeps your followers, subscribers, and donors interested.
Track what worked (and what didn’t) so you can learn for next time.
Have a favorite crowdfunding tool or tip? Tweet @WholeWhale