We just wrapped up our Friends & Family campaign. I wanted to share some insights into how our sales training helped us conceptualize & develop our campaign.
From day one we said we needed to be personally experienced in crowdfunding in order to offer first hand advice on how to develop, launch and manage a WeDidIt crowdfunding campaign. We finished our Friends & Family campaign last Friday at $6,340 - 127% of our $5,000 goal. Obviously, we’re extremely happy and proud. I wanted to talk about how we managed our campaign and offer some tips on how our sales experience helped us strategize for our campaign.
Me, Su & Ben all come from a sales/business development background and we treated our 30-day $5,000 goal in much the same way we would have treated a monthly sales quota. Achieving an all-or-nothing fundraising goal is very similar to hitting a sales quota: both require preparation, implementation & execution and in both cases, if the specified dollar amount isn’t achieved, no money changes hands. Way before our campaign launched, we set ourselves each the individual goal of raising $1,000 towards the campaign from our own friends & family and then we each made lists of people we expected to donate and how much we could expect from them. Between Su, Ben, Nick and myself, this accounted for $4,000 (80%) of our goal, leaving $1,000+ to come in through 3rd parties, word-of-mouth, and peripheral members of our own social networks (people we hadn’t expected to donate who did).
The first day the campaign went live, our goal was to play a numbers game. We wanted to let people know that the campaign had launched, direct them to the site, and build exposure for our cause on a broad scale. We did this by posting facebook status updates, updating our twitter accounts and sending mass emails to our friends & family. As the campaign progressed, we started getting in touch with the people we’d put on our lists by calling and/or emailing them directly. Once they’d donated, we asked them to help spread awareness for our cause by personally asking one of their friends or family members to donate. This took us to over 50% of our goal by week three and provides an essential lesson in sales/fundraising - the more personal a solicitation, the more likely it is to be successful.
We also had a number of ongoing, non-time-consuming initiatives during the campaign - the ‘little touches’. The first was to publicly thank people who donated. For example, I posted updates to facebook & twitter that tagged people in my social networks who had donated. It’s a great way to show your appreciation and also to let everybody else in your social networks know that people are believing in your cause. We also made a point to follow up with people who said they were going to donate. Another valuable rule of sales is that ‘verbal’ contracts (“I’ll sign on Friday…”) don’t count for much except theoretical dollars (which are way harder to spend than real dollars). Crowdfunding donations take less than 3 minutes to make, so when somebody says they’ll donate but don’t do it right away, chances are they’re going to forget. I kept a list of friends who said they’d “get around to it” and politely reminded them to donate as the campaign continued. Thanking donors and reminding donors-to-be took me less than 15 minutes a week and brought in hundreds of dollars.
The final piece of sales advice I want to share is that you never want to be short of your goal in the last week with no idea where the money’s coming from. In sales we call this ‘closing week,’ and it’s where you either make money or you don’t. With seven days left in our campaign, we were 29% shy of our $5,000 goal, but because of our planning, we knew exactly where we would get the final 31%. Our preparation allowed us to call in all the stragglers who had said they would donate, and since we over-compensated we ended up exceeding our $5,000 goal by 27%.
And don’t forget that “coffee is for closers,” so never stop looking for ways to solicit donations.