In April 2014, the Washington Post published an article about the benefits of crowdfunding to product focused companies. The effectiveness of well thought out sales and marketing channels during a crowdfunding campaign are evident, as we’ve seen many projects raise 6 figure sums (and more) from the crowd for prototypes and early-stage products.
However, the success of these campaigns isn’t only experienced in the private sector. Nonprofit organizations all around the country are now carving out a place for crowdfunding in their annual fundraising strategy. But before you go all-in, I hope to demystify the basic components of crowdfunding strategy, as well as what types of marketing tactics every campaign should have.
Every crowdfunding campaign needs a strategy for how it's going to reach people and communicate a message that gets people to take action. In the nonprofit world, soliciting donors is a way of life...but doing it on the cheap is when it becomes necessary to get creative. Below, let's take a look at how social media marketing and content marketing provide you an inexpensive way for getting your message to your target audience.
Social Media Marketing
Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram….are all platforms where you may already have an account with followers. So when developing a crowdfunding campaign, it’s crucial that you leverage the audience you can reach through these platforms because often times your followers have never donated to you before. In practice, you would want to develop a schedule for each platform, including content, post frequency and a timeline illustrating how you plan to promote your campaign on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Generally, Facebook and Twitter yield smaller donation sizes that email solicitations, so it’s a good idea to vary your social media content according to the social media channel. Ultimately, you want your followers to engage in your campaign by donating and/or sharing, so remember to include the appropriate links in each post so that you’re actively driving traffic from these accounts to your crowdfunding page.
Social Media Best Practices
- Include media content (see below).
- Post during lunch or late afternoon/early evening.
- Ask questions, ask for answers/replies in the comments.
Videos, photos, infographics, ebooks, even music…engaging content is your #1 tool for communicating why your crowdfunding campaign is important and how you expect people to support. Moreover, you may want to use digital content to promote the funding status and progress your crowdfunding campaign is making.
In practice, it’ll take several man hours for you (or a designer, video producer, etc) to create the media you need, so consider the value you expect to gain from a video vs. a photo or song, and plan accordingly. Typically, a general campaign video is expected in crowdfunding campaigns, but people often share video updates to keep their donors engaged during the campaign. However, infographics and images with memorable text/copy also does the trick. In being prepared for a successful campaign launch, it makes most sense to develop this content before your campaign kicks off, so that you’re only focussed on marketing-distribution during those 30-45+ days. Marketing-wise, any content hosted on 3rd party platforms like facebook, vimeo or youtube should have links directing visitors back to your campaign page. Overall, your strategy should include incorporating this media in all of your communications, as well as using the media to illustrate specific messages pertaining to your campaign (i.e. updates, testimonials, action footage, etc).
Statistically, email is the most effective digital form of solicitation for getting donations. Leveraging your email list adds another dimension to your campaign strategy that you can tie directly to what you’re doing with content and social media platforms. In essence, the folks on your email list have already given you permission to shares news and updates with them. During your crowdfunding campaign, your email list may be the strongest asset you have for driving donations, so having at least a basic strategy focussed around email solicitations will serve you well.
In practice, you’ll want to set a basic schedule including email frequency and guidelines for how you communicate to your email list. During fundraising campaigns, you may see a direct correlation between email blasts and sudden spikes in donations, however you should resist the urge to “over-blast” your audience by planning your frequency ahead of time and sticking to it. Keep your emails short….very short. And always include a call-to-action, which can be to “donate now”, or “share with a friend” or “watch this video”. Either way, you should give people a chance to interact with your campaign from email, and include the content you’ve developed into that communication channel to keep folks engaged.
Email best practices:
- Short & sweet - no more than 6 sentences.
- Strong call-to-action - i.e. “Will you donate to support our cause?”.
- The more personal, the better.
- Include updates to campaign’s progress as motivators.