Crowdfunding is a hot topic at the moment. When someone tells you, “Why don’t you crowdfund?” What image pops into your head? Close your eyes for ten seconds, and just watch where your thoughts take you.
What did you think about? Likely, you imagined the many donors, maybe thousands, you could attract with your campaign and the thousands of dollars you could raise.
This is most people’s perceptions of how crowdfunding works: enormous opportunities in a short time frame with a little bit of work.
Well, I am sorry to say this, but this is not how crowdfunding works. It’s not a Hail Mary to buckets of money at the click of a button.
Before I get into the specifics, I must warn you. I have never done a crowdfunding campaign. (Nor will I likely ever. You will learn why later.) However, I’ve listened to enough people who have crowdfunded and read enough articles on the subject to have a clear idea on the steps.
Reality check – it’s a lot of work
Everyone who has run a successful crowdfunding campaign (at least 6-figures) has told me that it’s a lot of work. Crowdfunding requires preparation work, constant momentum, and a huge amount of follow-up. So, it’s not a one-time, click-of-the-button campaign.
Here are the six fundamental steps for running a successful crowdfunding campaign.
Step 1: Shot a 2-3 minute video about your crowdfunding campaign
A successful crowdfunding campaign starts by telling your story with a high-quality video. You don’t have to spend lots of money to do this. With the right knowledge and expertise, an iPhone can do the trick.
If you know someone who has experience filming high-quality videos, I recommend asking for their help. The video doesn’t have to be in the style of a movie trailer with beautiful scenary every 5 seconds. It just has to present your story clearly.
I provide additional help on how to tell your story in this post: http://catholicfundraiser.net/increase-donors/
Step 2: Use high-quality photos to present key ideas
To attract people’s attention even further, use quality images to go even further in telling your story. I recommend you have an experienced photographer take these for you. Place these photos on your crowdfunding site and in your video to show people exactly what you want to achieve.
Again, you don’t have to spend large sums of money. I’m sure someone in your network is an amateur photographer who can help.
Step 3: Explain your plans and outcomes after the crowdfunding campaign is successful
You must explain to people what will happen after the campaign is complete. You do this by presenting your step by step plan for moving forward and what outcomes donors can expect to see in the coming months.
The more precise your plan, the better because it clarifies your focus and objectives to make things happens. You and your team will then know what you are all aiming to achieve.
I outline in this post the key steps for defining a project plan: HOW TO WRITE A PROJECT PLAN FOR CROWDFUNDING
Step 4: Itemize the rewards people will receive
Crowdfunding campaigns offer something in return for each level of contribution. This is important for two reasons.
The first is because it’s always better to give than to receive. So giving back to your donors balances your relationship with them.
The second is to demonstrate appreciation for people’s generosity and faith in your project – even when you have nothing but an idea to show them.
Therefore, make sure the rewards are attractive and connected to your cause. If you are starting a charity that teaches teenagers the value of marriage, make sure the rewards relates to this theme. You could offer resources which donors can use in their parishes and schools.
I teach you on how to do this step in this article: HOW TO FOCUS YOUR FUNDRAISING SO PEOPLE RESPOND
STEP 5: Introduce your team and their passions
It’s important to remember that people give to people, not to organizations. Therefore, provide detailed and personal information about each team member and what inspired them to be part of the project.
You don’t have to go into too much detail but remember that telling a story with a human angle is much better than just offering facts and bullet points.
Also, make sure each team member has a professional headshot. Each person should look at the camera and smile. It’s not a passport photo, so we should get a sense of their personality.
Step 6: Overcome the three biggest obstacles to a crowdfunding campaign
You must overcome three obstacles when crowdfunding.
Obstacle 1 – The first is you may annoy people with the constant pushing.
Crowdfunding works best with a high level of visibility in a short amount of time because you have to race forward to your goal in a short timeframe. To do this, you have to continually remind people to donate and update them on your progress.
Obstacle 2 – You cannot keep up the pace necessary to reach your goal.
Crowdfunding is a sprint. If your campaign starts slowing down, or you aren’t pushing enough, you will lose valuable momentum. Also, if you’re thinking of setting the timescale to one year, you are no longer crowdfunding. You are just fundraising, and fundraising has better results using other methods than crowdfunding.
Download my workbook, 10 Steps to Fundraising, to learn how to get over the big roadblocks.
Obstacle 3 – You gain one-off donations instead of building a network of lifelong supporters.
Crowdfunding gives you one-off donations with limited contact information on each person. Great fundraising happens when you inspire people to commit to you for the long haul. If you don’t convert these one-off donors into recurring ones, you will have to find more donors late on to support your ongoing efforts.
A final word of advice on crowdfunding
One of the best ways to get your campaign off the ground is to have a committed community of supporters before your launch because they can help you have that essential quick start.
If you already have a large community around you, crowdfunding could be an option.
If you are just starting out, I recommend postponing and instead focus on gaining people’s attention and trust.
For additional resources and a platform dedicated to Catholics, visit www.catholicfunder.org, a Catholic-focused crowdfunding platform. They can also advise you on the best alternative platforms to use and more advice on how to run a campaign.