Every time we coach a nonprofit through a crowdfunding campaign, we ask them how much they'd like to raise. Normally, this is a pretty straightforward and easy-to-answer question, because we're building the campaign around a specific goal that has a specific price tag. The question that follows is a bit more difficult: Where's that money coming from? One of the biggest misconceptions in crowdfunding is that all you have to do is make a video, get it on a crowdfunding platform and watch it go viral. This couldn't be further from the truth. If you're new to crowdfunding, the only case studies you've heard of are the newsworthy ones - the successful ones. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the idea that people take out their wallets, go to sites like Kickstarter and browse around looking for campaigns to support. False. Check the stats. Crowdfunding success is the result of careful planning, strategizing, and soliciting. We preach that a campaign's success is determined in the 30-45 days before a campaign launches, not the 30-45 days that it's live.
This is where promotional assets apply. For nonprofits, there are three basic assets: email lists, facebook, staff. We try to help the organizations we work with get creative with these three, and ask them what else they think they have as leverage. It's different for everybody. The more outside-of-the-box you think, the more you'll have at your disposal. What we try to do is audit the resources at your disposal and help you discern an achievable goal. In all-or-nothing campaigns we advise that you undershoot it. Think about the successful crowfunding projects you've heard of - the ones that hit their goal in a day, or raised enormous amounts of money - these campaigns asked for what they needed, possibly less, and successfully promoted their mission and then reaped the benefits. That's why if you tell us that you need to raise $10,000, we'll ask you to convince us that you can raise $10,000. If you can't convince us, we'll shoot for a goal that you know you can hit and the aim to overshoot it. Here's an example.
Athlete's C.A.R.E. is a student-run organization founded in 2012 based in Easton, PA that provides the backdrop for athlete involvement in the community fighting against issues such as hunger, homelessness, and poverty. When I got in touch with the executive director Alec Golini - a student at Lafayette College - he told me he wanted to raise $1,000, all or nothing. This was more than they'd ever raised previously, so we audited his promotional assets and strategized. This is what we came up with: his board of directors had 15 members, so we decided that we'd ask each one of them to pledge to find $75 in donations (totaling $1,125). He assured me that $75 apiece was realistic. It was - they hit their goal early in the campaign. The beauty of setting a realistic goal and knowing where the money's coming from is that once you hit the goal, you've got the rest of your campaign to see where you can get additional funds. That's why Athletes C.A.R.E. is currently at 626% of their goal.
This is what Alec had to say:
I'd say that for me, it really paid to be truly invested in my school during high school, having a close relationship with nearly every faculty member (it's a school with 3,000 kids) as well as current and former students. This has allowed me to network and extend the outreach of the nonprofit into more circles of people. At the same time, our organization has worked tirelessly to promote the cause and campaign as I'm sure any group has done. But reaching out to individuals through personal contact has really helped us. For example, over my winter break, I returned to my high school to speak with students about my work with the nonprofit and managing a nonprofit while still in college. That really raised awareness. I had kids whom I'd never really met, who saw me speak that day, messaging me online and asking how to get involved. It's almost like a politician going door to door to get support for their campaign.
He leveraged the promotional assets at his disposal and raised $5,000+ more than he'd planned on. It's an awesome success story and we're proud to have been a part of it. Check out the campaign here, there are 10 days left to donate: Athletes C.A.R.E. All-or-Nothing Campaign.