Many years ago a friend of mine sent me an email introduction to Danae Ringelmann, who had just started a new crowdfunding site called Indiegogo. Danae encouraged me to submit a project. I quickly threw up a page for an ongoing series I'd started called "The Love Project" and sent out a facebook post.
Nobody contributed. I felt dejected about it, and decided that "The Love Project" was just a love project after all, and getting money would somehow taint it anyway. (No sour grapes there.)
Over the years I've had a few friends use crowdfunding to successfully fund their projects, and I realized that I had gone about trying to get funding for "The Love Project" all wrong. When I needed some extra money for grad school tuition I decided to try crowdfunding again.
This time I applied what I had observed from paying attention to successful campaigns. I was able to meet my fundraising goal, and learned a lot along the way.
Yesterday I saw that my brother-in-law has recently launched a crowdfunding campaign to expand his art gallery so that he can provide printmaking workshops. I want his campaign to be successful, so I thought I would put together this post of what I've learned to help him and anyone else who is new to crowdfunding.
Lesson 1: Make the ask obvious
The title of your campaign should tell everyone what they need to do before they read any further. "Help Taymar Go Back to School" worked much better than "The Love Project". Don't name your campaign after the project, name it for what you want people to do.
Lesson 2: Explain the outcome
How is contributing to your campaign going to make a difference? This is more important to your contributors than the perks, they are donating because they want to support you. When I created "The Love Project" campaign I just put what the project was without explaining how the money would help me with the project. When I created my grad school campaign I created a picture of me flying on a unicorn, and talked about how I felt that attending the program would change my life for the better. It was very clear what the money was for and how it would help me.
Lesson 3: Give meaningful perks
Most people care more about helping you than they do the perks, but the perks do help. The best perks are the ones that are personal and connected to the campaign itself, so the person donating is getting something that makes them feel good on multiple levels.
Lesson 4: Keep Asking
This is the hardest and probably most important lesson. Remember, one facebook post is not enough, people are busy and distracted. They mean to donate, but you have to keep reminding them before they will. Don't stop sending out emails and posting on social media sites. Let people know that even if they can't contribute financially, they can contribute by spreading the word. Get your loved ones to post for you. And just keep asking until you've met your goal. It's not easy, but it is effective.
Lesson 5: Keep it interesting
As you continue to ask for donations, change up your message. Find new ways to mention your campaign. Tweet out how much closer you are to your goal, your gratitude to the latest contributor, and any news you have about the project. This isn't just for them, it'll keep you from getting bored too.
These are the simple lessons that I've learned from my two crowdfunding experiences. If you have any tips I've left out, please share them in a comment here. Lastly, please contribute to my brother-in-law's campaign and help bring more art and artists into the world.
Since becoming a mom to a little boy with Trisomy 21 I have written a lot about Down syndrome and disabilities. I am a storyteller, wife and mom to a teen and a toddler. Life is busy!