Recently my good friend Danny decided that he wanted to travel to Columbia and provide medical care to the impoverished, underserved communities. In order to get the proper resources to make it to Columbia, Danny has decided to use a crowdfunding service to support his goal (don’t worry, I won’t be soliciting you for donations in this post). Before setting it up and spreading the word, Danny decided to turn to his savvy CSOM friend for assistance. Sadly, that friend was busy, so Danny then asked me what to do.
My first piece of advice was obviously to leverage social media. Before spreading the word, I advised Danny to first consider what social media channels he had the largest following in while also taking into consideration what channels he was most comfortable with. Typically, Facebook and Twitter are the best platforms for crowdfunding because they reach the most people and encourage the most interactivity. Obviously, if one’s campaign caters to a more professional audience, LinkedIn is more appropriate. For Danny’s cause he will be using Facebook and Instagram because that’s where his largest and most active communities exist. Danny’s community (both digital and real world) is the most powerful asset for meeting his crowdfunding goals. His friends/followers will help him reach new audiences and drive donations. Beyond simply making a few posts on his personal page, Danny should amplify his reach by creating a separate page or group for his campaign. Pages are preferable because Facebook readily provides analytics which enable users to see their performance of the page based on likes, reach, enagagement and demographics. By utilizing Facebook Insights, Danny can determine what’s working on his page and what he needs to adjust. In time Danny will get a better feel for how he should craft appealing content for his specific audience.
Danny mentioned he had some reservations about asking for donations, saying it made him feel uncomfortable to ask people for money. So my second piece of advice was plain and simple: be shameless. People have literally billions of different options on what to spend their money on, and they won’t be willing to give him any money if he’s meek about it. The challenge becomes particularly difficult when considering that no donors will be getting anything in return for their money (other than the satisfaction of helping a noble cause). Danny has to be willing and able to effectively communicate his intentions and the value he will bring to the table. On the various crowdfunding sites alone, Danny will have to compete with campaigns aiming to restore natural landscapes, build innovative technologies or send some fratbros to the SEC Championship game.
As his campaign gains traction, Danny should ensure that he regularly engages with his audience. Beyond simple “sales pitches” asking for donations, Danny should continue to update his community on the issue he is trying to address along with updates on when his campaign hits major milestones. Of course the most important posts will be Danny thanking his contributors, as expressing gratitude is a great way to engage with his community and build a stronger following.
Finally, Danny needs to decide which crowdsourcing website is best platform for his mission. There are numerous crowdsourcing websites available, each with distinctive capabilities and resources. By far the largest and most well-known crowdfunding site is Kickstarter, which incentivizes donors by offering rewards for various levels of donations. With over 67,000 projects funded thus far, Kickstarter is capable of hosting any and all campaigns/projects. Then there are more niche crowdfunding websites such as StartSomeGood which provides a funding platform exclusively for social good initiatives, no matter if it’s nonprofit, for-profit, or unincorporated. Unfortunately, all StartSomeGood campaigns must meet their “tipping-point” in order to receive the funds. This “tipping point” is a percentage of the listed goal. Then there’s GoFundMe, which is catered to far more personal projects than business endeavors, such as raising money for a friend’s operation, providing resources for the homeless, or even crowdfunding a family vacation. Advertised as the world’s number one personal fundraising website, GoFundMe has raised over $400 million, including $3 million for the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings. I recommended that he use GoFundMe, mostly because I think its platforms lends itself to attract additional donors that he doesn’t have the ability to reach.
If Danny can quickly and succinctly communicate his mission and its benefits, then people will hopefully be willing to donate at least a dollar to his cause and slowly but surely he will meet his goal. Personally, I’ve only ever donated once through a crowdfunding website. For what you ask? For Super Troopers 2 of course (viewer discretion advised).
What do you think of crowdfunding sites? Are there any campaigns/projects that you’ve donated to?