By Anita Gallagher
What drives a successful crowdfunding campaign? Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the funds themselves, but rather the crowd — YOUR crowd. Is yours large enough to push you past your goal?
Crowdfunding campaigns are often feted as a quick fix to fundraising, but while the project may only be live for a short period of time, all successful crowdfunders know that the groundwork can be laid weeks and months before in the form of building up your audience.
At HIPGive we’ve seen over and over again that the most important factor in reaching your goal is not the cause itself, nor a superlative pitch, but the scale of your outreach. Put simply, it’s a numbers game: the more people who you can contact, the more likely you are to raise the funds you need. (And if you do actually want to play a game, check out the Crowdfunding Calculator developed by We Did It to see specifically how much social media traffic and how many page visits will help meet your goal.)
Indeed, the most successful crowdfunders set themselves up for success by merging both quantity, the number of email contacts and social media followers, and quality, as defined by those individuals’ level of support for the cause. Their communications teams work hard all year round to increase signups and raise awareness of both the work carried out and the value of individual donations, so that when a high-profile fundraising campaign is launched, the audience is primed to react quickly.
All this is heartening news for nonprofits that have a history of engaging individuals via annual fund and/or direct mail. Their challenge: to move their audience towards digital platforms.For many organizations, crowdfunding is an important means of diversifying income source, specifically decreasing reliance on grants and major donors and building up an individual giving program for the first time.
So, what practical steps can nonprofits take to increase their audience in the weeks and months leading up to a campaign?
1. Develop a unique voice.
Wherever and whenever your organization communicates, your content should transmit a strong value proposition so that everyone understands what you do and why it’s important. However, if you want to really grab the five-second attention span of your followers, then you also need to stand out from the crowd. This graphic sums up how to find your own unique approach to creating content.
2. Choose your platform.
There’s a saying in Mexico that “el que abarca mucho aprieta poco” (loosely translated as “Jack of all trades, master of none”). Rather than wearing yourself down trying to master Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., we recommend you stick to the basics: strengthen your email outreach and choose one social media platform where most of your target audience convenes. Facebook is the frontrunner for most organizations and provides special guidance for nonprofits to build their communities.
3. Use your network to gain sign ups.
The best way to spread the word is to spread the work. Create a button or sign-up mechanism to capture emails and “likes” on social media and make sure everyone in your organization – from board members to staff, volunteers, and even current donors – is committed to using their own personal networks to spread the call to action.
4. Don’t forget to listen and engage.
Don’t fall into the trap of using social media as a one-way space for publishing content, from us to them. Instead, use every opportunity to engage in two-way and multi-way conversations, responding to likes with personal messages, acknowledging comments, and posting questions and queries. Your audience must also be a community where people feel liked and respected.
5. Boost your communications in the lead up to the campaign.
Your more proactive outreach approach will surely pay dividends, but don’t forget to ensure “top of mind” positioning just before your campaign launches with specific teasers and pre-launch information, so that your audience knows something special is just around the corner.
Growing an audience is hard: you have to understand your target group(s) and work hard to produce the right content in the right place at the right time. Most importantly, it won’t happen overnight. But your hard work will pay off when, in your next campaign, you find your appeal does not fall on deaf ears, but is fueled by the re-sends, likes, and shares of your newfound community.
If you’re planning to run a year-end crowdfunding campaign as part of #GivingTuesday, then start building up your audience now!