You’ve gotten your groundup idea off the ground, and it’s starting to gain traction. More and more people are looking to jump in and join the work that you’re doing, and you’re ready to do more. So far everything has been self-funded, but doing more means needing more resources, funds included. Once you’ve explored all the ways you can creatively reduce the amount of funds you require, crowdfunding may be the next option that you’re looking at.
A quick search on “running a successful crowdfunding campaign” returned 3.85 million results on Google, so I think it’s safe to say the world doesn’t need one more guide on how to run a crowdfunding campaign. But what we have found hard to come by was a crowdfunding guide for campaigns that are based on social causes in our local Singapore context, and we thought the world might be a better place if we share our insights from running giving.sg since 2009. So here goes crowdfunding guide 3,850,001.
1. Choose your audience.
When creating your crowdfunding campaign, casting your net wide and trying to reach everybody may sound like a good idea, but that also means you’re putting more effort into reaching people who are unlikely to contribute to your cause. Narrowing your target audience will help you to be more focused in your campaign efforts and messaging, and reaching out people who already relate to your cause is likely to result in a higher contribution conversion rate. In crafting your message, think about what will resonate with them and write it in their lingo to be relatable. Besides segmenting your audience by cause, keep in mind the age demographics as well. At giving.sg, we have found that donors tend to be between 25-44 years old, and this may be another factor you might want to consider in the course of your campaign.
2. Set realistic goals.
After deciding on your target audience, take some time to also think about your potential audience size (how many people in this pool that you are likely able to reach) and your campaign goal. Keep it realistic, because setting a goal of, say, $100,000 to help paint the home of one low-income senior will lead to more suspicion than support. And on the flipside, setting a goal that is lower than the actual amount needed will leave you in limbo, because you’re left with a shortfall and you lose credibility with your funders if you shift your goalposts to meet it. Raise only what you need and itemise what your funds raised will be used for, because trust and transparency is the currency of crowdfunding campaigns. That said, there are cases when you can do more if there are excess funds beyond the target amount. You can set stretch goals for these funds after reaching your goal, but make sure you are clear on how these extra funds will lead to impact.
3. Tell your story, and tell it truthfully.
Storytelling is one of the most important qualities of fundraising, and especially so for a crowdfunding campaign where you have a limited amount of time to convince your campaign viewers. While a purely descriptive writeup allows you to share about the social problem from a macro perspective and why help is needed from a logical standpoint, telling a story goes the extra mile by scaling the emotional level that is needed to spur a reader into action. Your story should ideally revolve around one or more characters, and sharing about the problems that these characters face can help potential contributors better visualise the impact that their contribution will have, compelling them into action.
4. Use videos.
A picture paints a thousand words, but a video shows a thousand pictures. A viewer’s positive experience with a video can lead to an 80% increase in conversion probability, which means you’re more likely to get funded. And because videos are 12 times more likely to be shared than images or text combined, the chances of your video (and crowdfunding campaign) going viral is significantly higher. This doesn’t come as a surprise, given how videos are able to provide a sensory experience that is crucial in storytelling. But before you start going on about how you don’t have the necessary videography equipment or video editing skills to create a video that can go viral – we have found that what matters is not the quality of the video, but the authenticity of it. Watch this video shot by a group of 8 elderly from St. John’s Home For Elderly Persons. They filmed their first ever video with a smartphone, and raised over $100,000 for the home. Absolutely brilliant.
5. Leverage on social media.
This one’s a given, seeing how 79% of Singapore’s population are active social media users. If there’s any way of getting their attention at scale, it’s through social media. And social media’s great, also because sometimes we can get quite paiseh to ask for money in person. But while sharing on social media is important to get the word out, sharing alone simply isn’t enough if you don’t already have a captive audience. Start building your social media presence way before your crowdfunding campaign begins, and continue to build on it even in the midst of the campaign. Having an online community that is already invested in what you do is half the battle won when you launch your crowdfunding campaign.
6. Mobilise supporters.
Social crowdfunding campaigns thrive on personal networks, so utilise the activators amongst your supporters and tap on their networks too. Get the activators to share your campaign on their personal social media accounts and why it resonated with them. Or mobilise them to create their own campaigns around moments in their lives, like getting their friends and family to donate to your cause for birthdays or during festive occasions instead of receiving gifts. When you have fervent supporters who believe in your cause helping to champion your crowdfunding campaign, you are likely to see your campaign go further than you can carry it alone.
7. Track progress.
Set up campaign, set targets, upload a video, write a couple of words, share on social media, done. Not! The hard work doesn’t end once your campaign has gone live. We have consistently seen that the trajectory of crowdfunding campaigns has three key phases: Launch, Struggle-like-mad-to-stay-alive, Finale. You’re likely to get a flurry of support from your early adopters at the start and a final push at the end, but in between, campaigns that are not actively tracked very often fizzle out and wilt after the initial euphoria is over. As the campaign owner, you will have to recognise when this is starting to happen and do something about it. Give your campaign enough gunpowder for a strong launch, but plan ahead such that you have a steady stream of content coming through during the tough middle phase to keep the interest going. For example, if you’re lucky enough to secure a number of influencers or media outlets for coverage, inject some of that in the middle of the campaign instead of frontloading everything to the beginning. This will help keep your campaign afloat, your viewers engaged, and your campaign team motivated to keep pushing towards the goal.
8. Engage contributors.
This is something that many social crowdfunding campaigns neglect. You may think: But the contributors have already given, what else do I want with them? This is precisely what we want to avoid. Contributors give because they resonate with your cause, and treating them as commodities does nothing except leave a sour taste in their mouths. And a guarantee that they won’t be sticking around for your next crowdfunding campaign. No matter how busy you are with work, with managing the campaign, with running your groundup, take the time to show gratitude to these people who have backed you. Most crowdfunding platforms have the function to send contributors an automatic thank you email, but think about what you can do beyond that, like sending them a personalised email thanking them or a quick text if they’re from your personal network. You can even help further your campaign reach by encouraging them to share it with their network, but don’t follow up asking for additional contributions to avoid donor fatigue. Contributors will also appreciate updates on the campaign, and after the funds they have contributed are utilised, showing them how it was used to create impact will leave a good impression and keep the door open for future contributions.
Make no mistake about it – running a successful crowdfunding campaign is a lot of hard work. But it is also a great way to pool resources with people out there who identify with your cause. Having them contribute to your campaign not only supports you monetarily, them contributing their hard-earned money also signifies a validation of the work that you’re doing. And with your groundup looking for more resources to scale new frontiers, crowdfunding could be a great way to go about doing it.