Building Community to Build Money: How to Crowdfund Effectively

What is Crowdfunding?

Simply put, crowdfunding is raising small amounts of money by a large amount of  people for a project, and it is all done online.  This may be a simple concept, but doing this successfully is not so simple. I want to provide you with the necessary steps for a crowdfunding campaign and provide effective examples so you can reach your crowdfunding goals.

“Crowdfunding isn’t about collecting money. It’s about making something happen with a crowd of people who believe in something. Normal people, not rich people with a lot of power, just people like you and me.” -Jozefien Daelemans (Editor-in-Chief, Charlie Magazine)

Crowdfunding is all about your ability to create a community of peers that believe in your idea. It is about putting yourself out there and believing in your own ability and getting others to believe in it as well. Confidence is key.

You Need to Crowdfund, Now What?

Choose a Platform

There are many different crowdfunding platforms. Do research and choose the site that best fits within your project’s category. Different platforms will fit better with different types of projects.

Some Common Platforms

GoFundMe: Personal or professional projects

Kickstarter: Creative projects

Indiegogo: For artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and humanitarians

CircleUp: Companies looking for backers

YouCaring: Personal expenses

CrowdRise: Emphasis on global citizenship and the influence of social media

Use Multiple Channels 

Once you’ve chosen a platform you will need to market yourself. Utilize social media and connect your campaign to different social networking sites. Encourage friends and family to share your campaign.

Set a Realistic Goal

Just remember S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-frame) when coming up with your goals and objectives. Your project should have specific objectives that relate back to a broader goal in mind. You should relay this information to your audience.

For example: A goal could be to provide after-school reading programs in elementary schools. To obtain that goal one objective would be to improve the reading level of 100% of the children in the program which will be judged on a weekly basis. The goal is very broad, while the objective provides a narrow framework of what this goal will achieve.

Money Explanation

Your audience will need to know what there money will be used for. It is a good idea to break down the project for them with different costs for each part. Let them know the ‘what’, the ‘how much’, and the ‘why.’

For example…

What: After-school reading program

How much?: $5,000

Why: One-hour of free after-school programs provided each day of the 180-day calendar year

Put Together a Video

This should be the more emotional aspect to your campaign. It should have a visual aspect and can include music as well. You should mix emotion with facts. The video should end with your pitch to the audience. Tell them what your project is and ask for their financial help. To be able to crowdfund it is imperative that you feel comfortable asking people for money, sometimes that is easier said than done. Tell your audience how their donation will help you reach your goal. A video can be easily made for free by using apps on your phone or laptop!

Make it Personal

Usually when taking on a project there is a personal reason that pushes you to do so. Be real with your funders. Tell them about yourself, by doing so you give your campaign a voice and add a human element. By telling about your dream, other people might have a connection with you or share the same dream or passion, this will help you get their support.

Provide Perks

You might hope that your funders will just give from the heart, but they may be expecting something in return from you. Give them a small gift or promise them something if your project happens.

For example….Small donations will receive a T-shirt and large donations will receive a tote filled with small gifts. Or promise large donors that their name will be put on a bench as a sign of acknowledgement once the project is fulfilled. Be creative, and provide follow up thank you letters once your project is able to get started.

Don’t Forget About the Ask

I mentioned this above if you decide to make a video, but you cannot forget to provide a written ask to your audience as well. Remind them you need their financial help.

For example…’With one donation you are allowing us to move one step forward to provide children the help they need to improve their reading skills and have better confidence in the classroom. Our goal is set at $20,000 to cover program cost, volunteers, and resources. Every little bit helps!’

Remember…Raising Money is Just the Beginning

A crowdfunding campaign is like a part-time job. You need to be in constant communication with your publics, even if you have raised enough money for your project. The individuals that helped to fund it will want to know how it’s going and what is happening along the way. Don’t forget who got you to where you are. A successful first project can lead you to further success in your endeavors.

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