A Spring Crowdfunding Review

Tip of the Week

Spring is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. To clear your mind and plant seeds for positive growth, I’ve assembled a quick pre-launch crowdfunding checklist review. Because sometimes, you just have to go back to the basics.

Ask yourself: “Who would benefit from my campaign?”
If your answer is “everyone,” you’ve got work ahead of you. Crowdfunding works when you laser focus on your target audiences. Using social media, zero in on your target groups and then use the communication channels they frequent to reach them. If your traffic comes from sharing on Facebook through mobile devices, for example, use mobile apps. I found a helpful infographic for the best outreach times.

Research and learn
It shouldn’t be the case that I know more about crowdfunding projects similar to yours than you do. Find, research, and analyze what worked and what didn’t and learn from their experience. If you’re using Kickstarter, here’s some helpful guidance.

Form a team
Crowdfunding is a team sport that works best when your team members are performing tasks they are good at and enjoy. Here’s a fun way to match team member with skill sets to perform tasks effectively.

Partner up
The more you can amplify your message the more your crowdfunding campaign will thrive. Look for other live projects for possible cross-promotion opportunities. Again for Kickstarter users, here’s a good place to start.

Get to know the media
There are endless tools to identify the media. Here’s a current darling for Twitter users. Make sure you find them in advance. Don’t wait until you find yourself murmuring ‘uh-oh’ because your campaign has no traction.

Communicate effectively
If you do a poor job at targeting you will be greeted by silence. Here’s why.

To continue reading please go this crowdsourcing.org and this week’s installment from my Tip of the Week Column.

 

How to Prepare to Talk to a Crowdfunding Consultant (or general notes on crowdfunding preparation)

I get calls and emails from people who have an idea they would like to crowdfund. But since crowdfunding for a lot of people is still a model that is new and (to them) unknown, once we start talking I often slow down the conversation and suggest we back back up because I can tell they are not prepared to really talk crowdfunding.

Why? Because having worked in both traditional nonprofit fundraising and in crowdfunding, there are some intersections . . . but not many or always. So what may work in the traditional model simply doesn’t translate in crowdfunding.

Here’s an example. In traditional fundraising it’s fine—and fun–to mix up a bunch of elements and mush them into one fundraising extravaganza. People are used to getting invitations to contribute to a cause in which the reward you receive—whether it’s in the form of a celebrity appearance at the event, or an art auction to raise money for homelessness—is not directly connected to the thing for which you are giving money. (Art has nothing directly to do with homelessness, right?)

But that just doesn’t work in crowdfunding. People expect to receive a reward that is directly related to the campaign: a digital copy of a DVD, if you’re contributing to a film; a nifty gadget, if you’re requesting money to produce that nifty gadget. It’s a direct, one-to-one trade off.

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So whether you decide to go with a consultant or go it alone (with your team!) here are some things to think about before you take the deep dive into crowdfunding.

Remove the cluttered thinking

Start to flesh out what your idea will look like. Define it in 200 words or less. This will help you get a clearer picture about how to formulate your campaign perks and messaging, too—it’s very important you have and keep a single,  consistent theme. No unnecessary bells and whistles unless they pertain specifically to your campaign  goal.

Forget the overhead

In traditional fundraising asking for “operational costs” to pay staff will usually not elicit an eye blink from funders. In crowdfunding it’s a bad idea to pad your funding goal to pay your team. The rule of thumb is to ask for the absolute minimum you need. The logic is that people do not stop contributing just because you’ve reached your goal. In fact, “the crowd” loves to back popular campaigns. So if your campaign is doing well you have a greater chance of making more money than if you present a very high funding goal. It’s a psychological thing…

 Target everyone and you target no one

Target audience is always one of my first questions. A common response is: everyone! Everyone needs/wants/will benefit from my idea. Not in crowdfunding they won’t. Have a brainstorming session about your target audience. Get really concise. Who are they? What would motivate them to align with you? This will help you formulate your campaign appeal. Do not gloss over this step!

 The “It’s too early/too late” condundrum

Those familiar with crowdfunding are clear that the pre-launch phase is the most important step and the one that consistently gets short shrift. So, though it may seem premature, begin to research how to find the media contacts who would be friendly to writing about you and your project–way in advance. This doesn’t mean you will be contacting them yet. But it’s important to identify them, make a list of them, learn about them, find their contact information. . . you get the idea. This is a time-consuming process and should be assigned to someone who is a good online researcher.

Work smart with social media

Start building your social media following now. I can’t stress that enough. So many people think they don’t have to start until a couple of week—a month at the most—in advance. Nope. So start to identify which platforms would be most beneficial to you and your project. For example, if your campaign is very “visual”  and images were super-important—think art, fashion, for example—you’d probably choose Pinterest and Instagram for sure. But don’t feel like you have to be on every platform because, well, social media is a time suck. So choose 3-4 max. The usual suspects are Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and maybe LinkedIn. Mind you, these are my personal preferences.

Here’s where traditional fundraising will come in handy

You know how people run marathons for charities and they ask for your donation in advance if they finish the race? Have that kind of mentality in trying to secure funding in advance There are data that prove having 30% of your funding in place before your campaign goes live give you a 95 – 100% chance of success. (This is usually in the form of sincere verbal promises, but if anyone has other good ideas for securing commitments please share!) The lower that percentage, the less likely you are to succeed. So get your “1000 true fans” to commit early! And get them to spread the word.

Team will always have a place in fundraising

Build your team. Continuing on the idea from above, yes, you’ll want a team of worker bees on your project, but you also want to get your close friends to be team members, too, by having them spread the word on their social media channels.

So now you’re ready to jump into phase one of your crowdfunding prep—with or without the help of a consultant!

Image: Vintage Girl Scout

Multiply Your Reach with CrossPromote.It

Tip of the Week

Like many early adopters, Serhiy Khvashchuk became fascinated with crowdfunding after successfully running his own Kickstarter campaign in 2012. He learned a great deal and then began consulting others to help them reach their goals.

The closest he came to finding a magic bullet for success is to cross promote with other projects in order to extend each campaign’s reach — a win-win proposition when done well. So, Khvashchuk put his newfound knowledge to practice and partnered up with Pavel Kachanov to launch CrossPromote.It.

This is not an entirely new concept. On its blog, Indiegogo encouraged campaigners to find partners. It makes a lot of sense, and I loved the idea so much I blogged about it myself.

What CrossPromote.It does, however, takes cross promotion to the next level. Six months in the making, what they have created is a deep data-mining tool that is superior to anything out there.

To continue reading go to this week’s installment of my Tip of the Week column on Crowdsourcing.org.