Ask Corbett: Crowdsourcing

Pennies from Heaven

How to Make Your Crowd Funding Campaign Stand Out

By Corbett Barklie




We’ve all heard stories about wildly successful Kickstarter campaigns. Like the one about the guy who raised over $50,000 to make potato salad. It all sounds so easy. Pick a project, slap up a couple of photos and a plea for money, and away you go! But the reality is that about 60% of Kickstarter campaigns fail and, of those that fail, less than 1% raise more than 80% of their goal.

Here are a couple of things to help increase your odds:

There are some obvious things like making sure your project has a reasonable budget, a clear start and end date, and compelling visuals – this is extremely important since most people respond to beautiful or interesting images. And remember the old saying “a picture’s 1,000 words” – that’s particularly true when it comes to crowd funding.

Carefully consider the “rewards” or “incentives” that you offer your donors.

Give people things that genuinely show your appreciation but don’t cost too much money or time to produce? There are lots of ways to say thank you without sacrificing an arm and a leg. Acknowledgement in programs, press releases and/or brochures is effective and you can tier the acknowledgement font size according to the size of the gift. If you’re a performing artist, complementary tickets could be considered and, in this instance also, you can adjust the number of tickets according to the size of the gift.

It’s not just the personal or financial cost associated with over-incentivizing your campaign; there is another, more egregious, side effect. Offering prospective donors too much in the way of incentives can signal desperation which is something that prospects instinctively run from. Appearing desperate to a donor prospect is equivalent to discussing your thumb sucking problem on a first date. Enough said.

Be Strategic

Here are a few more interesting Kickstarter stats:

“Of the projects that have reached 20% of their funding goal, 81% were successfully funded. Of the projects that have reached 60% of their funding goal, 98% were successful funded. Projects either make their goal or find little support. There’s little in-between.”

Lesson Learned

Make sure you have at least 20% of your goal secured before you launch your crowd-funding campaign.

Sample Strategy: Let’s say you have a crowd funding goal of $10,000.

You know from the Kickstarter stats I’ve shown above that it is critical that you reach 20% of your goal, and the sooner the better. Don’t leave it to fate. Before you launch your crowdfunding campaign, identify people who can get you to your 20% goal of $2,000. These will probably be people who are close to you and are familiar with your work. Meet with them in person if possible. Explain your project and the importance of their early commitment. If they agree to be foundational donors, let them know what day you plan to launch your campaign and when you’d like them to make their gift. Ask them to stagger their contributions over a few of days. In other words: Ask donor 1 to make their $500 gift on the first day of the crowd-funding campaign; donor 2 donates on the second day, and so on. By doing this you are also building momentum which helps favorably position your project.

If you are not able to raise 20% of your goal, you need to reconsider the size of your campaign. Generally speaking, your ability or inability to raise 20% of your goal is an excellent indicator of your overall fundraising capacity.   For example, if you can only raise $1,600 in foundational gifts then consider lowering your campaign from $10,000 to $8,000 to keep the 20% ratio.

Investing a little time developing strategies before you launch your crowd-funding project will be time very well spent.