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Description of Tool Class
Crowdfunding tools provide another way for peacebuilders to Generate Revenue and fund important activities. Unlike when applying grants, in which funds come in a lump sum from a single organization, Crowdfunding tools collect small contributions from many different people. Most crowdfunding campaigns get their income from the people the campaign organizers know personally. It takes a lot of work to successfully pull off a crowdfunding campaign, but understanding how to conduct a campaign makes it possible for an organization to rely on more sources for funds.
Choosing a Crowdfunding Platform
There are a variety of crowdfunding platforms available for peacebuilders, each with characteristics that make them useful for different purposes. The major important factors include:
- Cause - Is the platform for crowdfunding businesses, products, or causes?
- Funding Type - Does the user keep all money earned, or only once a goal is met?
- Platform/Transfer fee - Some platforms waive the 5% fee for nonprofit cause.
Below is a brief summary of the platforms and their qualities.
Tips for Crowdfunding Campaigns
1) Set your target fundraising goal. What is the bare minimum you need to do this project? At what point could you not launch an event. Most crowdfunding campaigns fail, and especially those that get overly ambitious. So if you mentioned $15,000 was your target to raise, examine that proposition. Could it be done with $10k? Choosing a low target number doesn't mean that you're cutting yourself off from higher funds - it just lowers the barrier to you getting funded with the bare minimum to do what you say you're going to do.
2) Pick your platform.
See the steps above.
3) Build a narrative -
What is the problem you're trying to solve? Economic stagnation, war, conflict in Iraq, get people to respond to that - maybe by painting a picture of a region or telling the story of an individual. Get it as personal as possible since people have trouble emotionally responding to an abstract. Present your project as a way to address this problem. Outline what it is you want to do, clearly. Explain your goals, explain why its exciting! Describe your expected Impact. How will the world be a better place with your project?
Campaigns with a good video tend to raise more money than campaigns without. Its a chance to get people to faces, images, landscapes. Your video should align with your textual narrative. We can brainstorm a bit about this further on, but be prepared to sink a lot of time into this. The video is what's going to get shared around and is going to be one of the primary ways people learn about your campaign. Check out Video Recording and Video Editing tools to help you get started.
5) Plan the outreach
Pre-campaign prep-work is key. Most successful crowdfunding campaigns raise at least 1/3rd of their funds on the first 48 hours. The way this is accomplished is by spending months before the crowdfunding project reaching out to your target audience and getting them to commit when the campaign launches. The benefits of this are: You're not limited by the 1-month duration of your campaign to get work done You can spin the early buzz to your contributors to make them excited and to the press. "Wow," you'll say "We just launched this project and its already going CRAZY! You should write about this movement."
Plan out your contributor audience. These consist of:
- Your personal network, especially those people for whom you have email addresses
- Professional Organizations or groups that are likely to contribute to your cause and spread the message
- Influential (highly connected) individuals that will favor your cause
- Social networking accounts that will care about your cause and share them with their followers
- Relevant media outlets. Who covers the issues most relevant to your campaign.
Crowdfunding campaigns are almost entirely raised by the networks of the campaign team (unless they go viral) so most of the work is going out individually to people and asking for their support. Blanket emails wont cut it, you've got to write a custom message to each person explaining why the campaign should matter to them.
Prepare "The Ask." You need to directly ask people to give (set a high target of $20 bucks or more - even if people don't make the higher contribution they may feel compelled to up their donation) and to share the campaign with their networks. People are of value to you in how much they personally can contribute and how much they can raise the profile of your cause. Include in the email a set of pre-made tweets and make a button to one-click send them out (thereby minimizing the amount of effort they need to extend to get the ball rolling.) All this should be accompanied by a PERSONAL narrative of why you're running the campaign. Make it not just about the cause, but about YOU, their friend/brother/mentor/colleague/uncle/etc, being personally moved by the effort and asking for their help.