Getting started with crowdfunding

Pinso-jamd-kickstarter-2013

 

We’ve all been there.  Brimming over with ideas for exciting projects, for getting businesses up and running.  But if you’re a student or a graduate, there’s often a stumbling block: money.  Crowdfunding is often pitched to creatives as a good way to get funded but what is it and most importantly, does it work?

Type “crowdfunding” into any search engine and you get hit with an almost overwhelming number of platforms.  A quick glance tells you that it’s used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, political campaigns, start-up company funding, inventions development, scientific research, to name but a few.  But the essence of crowdfunding is always the same – it’s a collective effort, through a network of individuals, to pool money for a cause, whatever that cause may be.

As part of the graduating class of Jewellery and Metal Design at DJCAD we recently successfully raised £2,655 through Kickstarter to help us get to New Designers, so I thought I’d share some of our experiences to help you on your way to crowdfunding success and give you some things to think about along the way.

  1. Tell your story.  OK, you know all the brilliant things you would do if you got funding, but why should people choose to back you rather than all the other good causes out there? What incentives are you offering?  What can you offer people who support you and why is it different from what other people are offering? Make it personal and tell your story, because it’s you that makes the difference. And you want the people who have supported you to feel part of that story too.
  2. Be organised. Right now you’re focused on reaching your financial target.  But you’ve got to think about much more than that.  You need a communications plan, incentives, a distribution plan (you need to give people those rewards, don’t you? Not to mention being able to tell people when to expect their rewards) and you’ll be doing yourself a huge service if you can tell people what you’re offering and what your terms and conditions are right at the outset.
  3. Do your sums. Think carefully about how much money you need to raise.  Make it realistic and achievable.  Pay attention to the terms and conditions of the crowd funding site you’re using – with some sites, unless you reach your target amount in full, you get nothing! Most will also charge you a percentage once you reach your goal, so make sure that you’ve factored this into your sums!
  4. Get people talking. You’re project has gone live, but…where’s the money?  It’s not enough to just tweet and Facebook your campaign – you’ll find you’re hitting up your friends and family for cash and that, sadly has a limit. We contacted organisations and businesses and asked them to shout about our cause.  We made posters and fliers and distributed them at arts and crafts venues.  We contacted the press.  We talked to people outside our social group.  And it worked wonders, not just for our campaign but in terms of our individual business networks.
  5. Be creative and keep it varied.  Because you are creative! And you need to use that creativity to keep people engaged and make them want to help you.  Remember your fundraising campaign can run up to 30 days or more  – you can’t just post one update and expect to be inundated with donations. If donations are slowing down, offer your audience something new. We released daily profiles of our class, our work and what getting to New Designers would mean to us.  We  made videos. We offered gifts, we had themed give-away days.  We kept the conversation going.
  6. Say thank you! It’s not only polite, it shows people that you’re grateful for their help and that you value their support.
  7. Put the effort into the rewards you offer. We are jewellers so what better way for us to say thank you to our supporters than with handmade gifts?  The personal touch makes a difference.  It shows that you’ve put thought into your campaign, that you care about what your doing and your supporters are getting something unique for helping your cause. We offered a range of different gifts according to the value of the donations we received.  This helped offer incentive for people to donate more and to make more than one donation.  We also had limited offers, bank holiday specials etc. to keep things varied and to keep people engaged.
  8. You reached your target… but remember it’s not over yet! You have people to thank, rewards to make and post and…you need to do a follow up. To show people how they’ve helped you, how they’ve contributed, how you couldn’t have done it without them. How, by donating to your cause, they gave your story a happy ending.

So good luck and get crowdfunding!

 

 

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