Firs, here are the presentations I give to whom ever is inviting me:
You are welcome to contact me, and I’ll tell you all about it
Meanwhile, I have tried to put it all in words:
Lately I was lucky enough to lead a successful crowdfunding campaign for open codeproject for liberating government data. It’s not as if I think it is sufficient to call myself an expert. Yet, some conclusions could be reached during that campaign, and today I can state that I now know a lot more than I knew before that effort. That knowledge I am interested in sharing here by with, in a few milestones I believe can lead you in the making of your own acrowdfunding campaign
Defining the category of the project: does it touch the HEART, and try to support/help an important goal, or is it directed towards the MIND, and invites the supporter to invest something that will be worth his while personally in the end. This definition will help to characterize the project in terms of tone and style, choice of gifts, etc.
Outlining the project: a construction with a beginning and an end. In our case, for instance, if we were to call our project “Furthering the idea of an open government”, it would not work. We concentrated on a specific project of adjusting our web-site according to the results of the elections.
Trailer: It is rumored that projects with trailer have a double or triple chance to reach their goal. The trailer really does not have to be heavily produced; it is even not logical to request money from people after you show them a trailer that has cost a lot of money already. But you must find a way to make it different in some aspect: sound/location/text – something most be outstanding.
Decision on the goal of the amount to be raised: the meeting point between your real needs and the amount successfully raised in comparable projects. Obviously you cannot extrapolate fully from the success or failure of one project to another project. Each has its own story. But if all the projects in your field of interest raised an amount in a circumscribed range, it would be untenable to embark on a project that requires ten times that amount.
Rewards: our project was a philanthropic, in in this case it does not claim to grant the sponsors realistic gains. Their motivation for contributing comes from their willingness to take part in an exciting project. In general we are not talking about giving secretly. The best reward that you can give for their money is publish their support, and to enjoy the credit that comes out of their identification with the project. From there you have to decide on the character of the Rewards. There is no need to invest in expensive gifts. But you certainly must prepare stunning gifts, that will express the involvement of the supporter with the project. I-pads, flight to the Caribbean, expensive dinner – no. A Post, a T-shirt, a sticker on their computer – yes.
Levels of support: two important points in this aspect:
1. Here is room for creativity. It is attractive to give the levels of support an original name that attracts the eye more than just “level 1”.
2. It is advisable to start from a very low level (we started at 50 NIS – 17$) for persons who cannot, or do not want to invest a relevant sum, but still want to participate. More important than their financial contribution is their wish to participate. From thereon they will assist you to spread and further the fact of the project. In addition, another, very high level of participation is suggested (we thought of 10.000 NIS – 3k$) for groups and organizations who are willing to underwrite the project. This preferential level must be limited to a certain number of participants, and you should try to create competition for these limited positions. We did not succeed in winning such subscribers, but I know of projects where this worked out. This all depends in making contact with the relevant institutions.
Explanatory text about the project: well, it is clear that this should be attractive, compact, free of platitudes, and free of too much advertising jargon.
Launching the project: This can be done in Facebook, by mail or anywhere else. But don’t take this too seriously. This is not like an advertising campaign or the opening of an exhibition. It is no more and no less than an opportunity to attract attention, a reason to write a status, to send e-mails – “Dear Friends, we are happy to announce that …”. Many more occasions will follow to make waves. So lets just float it on the waters and started to blow air.
Updates in the project itself: In the page of the project updates can be entered, and they will reach all participants who supported you until now. Note: These are persons who already spent their time and money for the cause. Refrain from bothering them. We sent five updates altogether during the campaign. Mainly to say thank you, and to happily announce that we reached our intermediate or final goals. You may during the campaign request help in spreading the object of the campaign, but sparingly.
Another option is asking the supporters why they chose to do so. That may be interesting material to put on Facebook or Twitter, (but be sure to obtain their permission first).
E-mail: An effective medium, but also very sensitive. On the one hand, people who receive personal mail pay more attention to it than to Facebook or Twitter – on the other hand, if this is too invasive to their taste, they may get very annoyed. To my mind, there is no choice but to send mail-messages to your whole mailing-list, but you have to do that very carefully, and make it as personal as possible.
Facebook/Twitter/Linkdin: in my view, the sky is the limit. The more, the better. At least one status daily. The challenge here is to invent with every contact a way to give the message: Please, spread the news. Always maintain a happy tone, look for reasons to be happy, and do not preach: “Friends, what going on? Are you sleeping?” – wrong. “Excellent, we passed the midway point! Another small push and we will be there!” – much better.
PR: blogs, newspapers, magazines, web-sites, Facebook pages of organizations. Try to find whoever is willing to link up with your project. Again, because it is exciting. Find an opportunity in the web-site to embed your project directly into any site. Obviously, the more the project is proving to be successful, the more people will wish to be associated with it and to write about it. Therefore it is advisable to keep these requests until a fairly late stage in the campaign. But don’t wait until the last moment. These people sometimes move slowly. No harm done if you call them in the beginning, and you call them again later on.
Search for additional circles: In the first week you exhaust all the circles that you know. That is the time to turn on your creativity and search for secondary circles: Dad’s friends from the office parents in your daughter’s school, members of your aunt’s kibbutz – some of them will think you are pushy, but they had never talked to you before, anyway. So this will just be a continuation of that situation. It is important that you share these ideas with your inner circles. They also have a father with friends from his office.
Static messages: Try to think of one item that remains static during the whole period of the campaign, with your message. For instance a constant poster in your site or a cover-photo on your Facebook page.
All these are avenues we tried. This is only a starting point, as far as you are concerned you should search for ways to reach more people, the more, the better. In our project we reached the statistics of around 35 people exposed to the page per one person who had actually put money on it. the average exchange ratio is a bit lower than that – around 25 to 1. the average amount of money contributed is 75$. From here you can calculate the number of persons you have to reach in order to raise your projected goal in full. Anyway, we are talking about a lot of people.4. After the campaign.
In as far as you did not fulfill year aim, your life is honey. No money taken from the backers – so you don’t owe them anything. see you at the beach.
In contrast, if you did succeed, the real sisyphean work only begins:
Send presents to all: I don’t think that people expect this the moment your campaign is over, but at some stage you will start to get angry e-mails. And I don’t even talk about someone receiving less than he expected.
keeping in touch: You now have in hand a nice data base of people who already have proven that they feel a certain empathy to your cause. It will be sad to part with them for ever. Try to maintain some kind of contact with them, and the intention is not a contact of asking for more contributions, such as Like, take part, send, volunteer, add more money. Try to think what they can receive from you.
Spending the money: you have a certain leeway in what you can do with the money, but for heaven’s sake, don’t take this too far from what you have promised your supporters. You are now part of a commune. You have partners. They keep an eye on you and expect to see what happens with their money. If whatever you promised does not come about, it is difficult to imagine that they will drag you to a court of law, but don’t forget that you might need them for some sort of cooperation in the future. With you or with another project. So you don’t harm only yourselves, but the whole method of crowdfunding.
Well, we got a rather long list of instructions here. If you have reached this stage, you look like serious people filled with motivation, and you have a good chance to finish a crowdfunding campaign successfully. In any case, even if it is difficult, the road to a crowdfunding campaign is thrilling, suspenseful, educational and uplifting. Highly recommended.