Earlier this year, I set out on my first ever crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a student group at the University of Alberta called AlbertaSat.
The goal of our campaign was to raise $15,000 to cover the launch cost of a cube satellite created by students and faculty—the first of its kind to be designed and developed in the province of Alberta.
While my team and I were all familiar with crowdfunding as a model, none of us had any formal experience in launching or managing a campaign. If not for an incredible amount of support from both our campus staff and local community, it’s unlikely that we would have been able to achieve the success we did and exceed our funding goal by almost 150%.
In this post, I offer up some key takeaways that my team and I learned during the course of our 30-day campaign. While there isn’t a standard template for crowdfunding success, following these tips should help you to develop a strong campaign and avoid some of the common pitfalls that most campaigns encounter early on in the funding process.
1. Develop a Compelling Story.
Getting people interested in your campaign is the first step in building an engaged audience of potential donors, and crafting a compelling story is the way to do this. Your story should provide readers with a brief background on your campaign, why your initiative is important/personally meaningful, and what it means for your project to be successfully funded.
Our project—aptly named Lift Off Alberta—told the story of a group of students who not only wanted to build Alberta’s first ever cube satellite, but lay the foundation for an entirely new (aerospace) industry in the province of Alberta. By connecting our project to a more universal theme, we were able to capture far more attention among the Alberta community.
2. Craft a Personal Appeal.
For people to buy-in to your campaign they have to connect with your cause. Crafting a strong personal appeal and sharing it with your audience is key to accomplishing this. A personal appeal tells your audience why your crowdfunding project matters on a personal level, and is a great way to demonstrate the passion you have for your projects success.
If there are multiple members of your crowdfunding team, it’s important that each individual develops their own personal appeal for the campaign. We found success in keep our personal appeals concise (just two to three sentences), and connected to our story. When people asked us about our project, we were each able to give a unique but unified answer.
3. Create a Campaign Video.
It’s no coincidence that almost every successful crowd-funding project has a great video. Not only is video a great medium to share your story and personal appeal, it’s far more engaging. Just think about it—would you rather read through paragraphs and paragraphs of information, or watch a 2-5 minute video that contains the same content? Also, what format of content are you more likely to share across your social and personal networks?
Although not everyone is a professional videographer, finding someone with the right equipment and editing software is worth the time and effort. Quality audio/video can go a long way in showing people that you’re serious about being successfully funded. Below is a direct link to our campaign video that we posted directly on our campaign funding page:
4. Provide Timely Updates.
Once your campaign has launched, it’s important to provide your followers with timely updates. Content for these updates can be focused on anything from key campaign milestones, to news and articles related to your event. If you plan on running your campaign for 30 days or longer, aim for a minimum of one to two updates/week in order to keep your audience engaged.
We found that creating and scheduling content ahead of time (especially on social media) was be a great way to stay on track. If you’re working within a team, designate a content specialist to take care of updates and respond to any comments or media inquiries you may receive. Doing so helps to streamline the response process and impart a sense of accountability.
5. Thank Your Donors.
Regardless of whether your campaign is successfully funded, it’s important to reach out to each of your supporters and personally thank them.
Letting donors know that you value their support goes a long way in building goodwill towards your campaign or cause. It also increases the chance that donors become evangelists for your cause, and share your campaign within their network of friends and family.