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  • Steph Varley

Crowdfunding Top Tips

Updated: Jan 1

A couple of months ago we successfully Crowdfunded just over £4000 which was match funded by Natwest Back Her Business. I wanted to share our journey providing tips along the way so you can decide if Crowdfunding is for you!



If you’re the type of person who can wing something and sleep soundly at night, I’m jealous! If you’re like me and you need everything planned out, complete control and can’t switch off unless you’ve completed an extensive tick list, then the duration of your Crowdfunder is going to be stressful. I’d recommend a solid middle ground, where you put time into planning but be okay that elements might change.


My first tip is about preparation. Your Crowdfunder doesn’t begin on the day your campaign goes live. If you’re really wanting to hit the ground running on day 1, then you need to make connections and build awareness ahead of your launch date. You might be in the position where you already have a social media following, a mailing list for your company or a network of service users and that’s ideal because they already know your mission, and are committed to your cause. If however, you’re a new product or service and you’re hoping to launch your campaign and people will stumble across it whilst doing their online shopping, I’m sorry to say that that’s unlikely.

Get talking about your idea, share relevant things on your socials, talk with people you think will benefit from the service or product that you’re creating and ask them what it needs to include. Basically…do your research. There are a few online funding platforms, most notably Crowdfunder, Kickstarter and BackerKit and all bode slightly different offerings so pick the right one for your campaign.


In our case, we were asking for help to fund a pilot service and business costs as we are a not for profit. We wanted to offer some raffle prizes to gain more backers and add some fun into the process so I reached out far and wide to organisations for raffle prize donations. Having done this kind of thing for charities that I’ve volunteered with before, I wasn’t worried about getting a good selection to help with our rewards however, it would seem that the majority of places that I would normally approach were being affected most by lockdown. Leisure facilities and food venues would have been my go to, but with most closed and facing an uncertain future, I wasn’t about to ask them for a voucher. So I scrambled together a few donations and we cracked on with some of our own rewards.

We wanted to create opportunities throughout the campaign where people could engage with us and keep up to date so we often did short videos, but what we found most effective was hosting online events. In hindsight, we should have run events ahead of the campaign to raise awareness but the ones we did throughout meant we regularly had content to share and were building an audience. After deciding on topics we reached out to people we thought would make engaging panelists. We also did some activity based events for families which can all be rewatched on our Youtube Channel.

Another thing we did ahead of the launch was map out everyone that we knew, from LinkedIn connections to ex-boyfriends to see how many people we could organically reach if we got our message to resonate with everyone, and with that come my next two tips.


Know your mission and stick to it. As you start to identify key people as donors, it’s tempting to tweak your mission to suit the person you’re talking to but you need to go into the process knowing your aims and confident in your reasons for asking for support. Don’t be afraid to reach out to new people and grow your network, but only approach those you genuinely want to learn from, collaborate with or have things in common with.


Once you’ve got the page up and running, celebrate the wins! It’s easy to get your head down and focus solely on the end goal but every donation is one more person who believes in your campaign and that’s something to be celebrated. Sure, the first few donations might be your mum, dad and siblings who you told had to donate whilst you sat and watched them but sometimes family are the ones who surprise you the most. Take it with a pinch of salt if the people you expected to donate don’t or you’re faced with the blue Whatsap double tick and no reply, because other people who might not have been on your list might come out of the woodwork. Share any good news and don’t be afraid of tooting your own horn, your cause is worthwhile and that’s backed up by your supporters.

Remember not everyone’s in the position to donate, so liking your social media posts or sharing your page with a colleague might be the way someone supports you, and they’re the advocates for your brand. If someone is willing to put their name to a cause and be associated with it, I believe that’s more powerful than the money itself because that will last long after you campaign.


Regardless of how people support you, thank everyone individually. We decided to include a postcard as one of our rewards over a certain amount, which went out to around 100 people. We individually wrote each one with a personal message thanking them for their contribution and support and posted them out. It felt great to recognise people who essentially invested in our idea and us without gaining anything themselves. We hope it solidified our brand and the kind of company we are creating and for anyone who didn’t receive a postcard we thanked online, whether they liked a post or watched a Facebook Live, we tried to let everyone know how grateful we were.


So, hopefully I’ve not put you off and instead given you some food for thought. It’ll be a busy few weeks but if we can get through it during a global pandemic, whilst working full time jobs and with the added significance and momentum of the the Black Lives Matter movement starting during our second week, you can too. Put the time in and make sure you’re keeping people in the loop, remember that some people will watch from afar before donating or getting in touch to ask questions so be visible online.

And lastly, be flexible. Opportunities will come out of the blue which are too good to pass up on and others you were counting on will disappear and make you wonder if you ever had the conversation to start with. You can check out our page for inspiration using this link and get in touch if you’d like any advice or a chat. Good luck, I can’t wait to hear how well it goes!



Steph

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