Phase One: Abstract
Tell Your Story
Your story is the reason your audience turns into donors. Your story will frame the reason your campaign is necessary. Ultimately, your story should focus on an individual. This will have a stronger impact on a possible donor than if you highlight an entire group or population. Limit the amount of statistics as it can clutter up your story and lose your viewers’ attention.
Brainstorm multiple stories that your campaign and video will focus on. If you work with children, your story could focus on an individual child and how your organization has impacted her. Alternate story options could be about a staff member, a child and his family, etc. Your story can also link back to the impact that bringing on an additional service year corps member will have on your organization. Create these different options and test them with your team to determine which would be the strongest.
The key items to include in your story are:
- Your organization
- The location of your organization
- The population that will benefit from this funding
- How these funds will be used and what the outcome of the use will be
- Your motivation to host a campaign right now
Setting Goals for Your Campaign
Setting goals will help set your priorities for the campaign period. If done correctly, hosting a crowdfunding campaign can aid in not only raising funds, but also in expanding your social media presence, and your donor base. The two types of goals that you will set for your campaign are a financial goal and SMART goals that will help you track retaining and expanding your donor pool.
Create SMART goals for your team and campaign.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound. These goals should help frame what your overall goal for the campaign period is. These goals should focus on both this specific campaign and your larger fundraising strategy. These goals can be set to grow your donor pool, turn one time donors into annual donors, or grow your online presence. While a goal does not have to directly fall in line with all five criteria, keep them in mind when determining goals.
Examples of these realistic goals could include:
- Raise 40% of your financial goal in 10 days (time bound and measurable).
- Bring in 15% new first-time donors (attainable and relevant).
Unrealistic goals that would not follow the 5 criteria:
- Fund your campaign by 200%. (This isn’t an attainable goal. If you think your organization and network will raise double of your goal, set your target goal higher.)
- Double the amount of followers on Twitter. (This isn’t time bound.)
Creating Your Desired Financial Goal
Determining what your story is will help frame your financial goal and will also determine the timing you'll need to run your campaign during. If your goal is to offset the cost of hosting a corps member, your goal should range from $12,000-$25,000. For some organizations, this goal may be outside of their reach for their first crowdfunding campaign. Potentially funding a portion of the service year position may be more realistic.
Picking the right day to launch your campaign is a crucial detail to figure out. When deciding on when to start your campaign, make sure no major holiday falls during the crowdfunding period. Having a longer length of campaign time doesn’t yield more success. In fact, it often proves to be less successful because it removes the sense of urgency that a donor feels. When would be ideal to hold your 30-day campaign? Is there a marketing strategy that your campaign could be tied to?
What can this fund?
Supplies to aid in a corps member who is tutoring elementary aged students
Covers remaining costs of hosting an AmeriCorps VISTA
About half the cost of one service year corps member
Covers remaining cost of hosting multiple corps members after public funding
Is this goal realistic for my organization?
Since your campaign will last 30 days, divide your goal by 30 to see what you will have to average in donations every day to reach your goal. If your goal is $15,000, that means you would have to bring in roughly $500 a day. Is your network engaged and large enough to support those goals? Remember $500 a day might be possible for the first few days, but will you still be able to get $500 a day by Day 22?
Questions to consider:
- What do your ideal results look like?
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- What is your call to action? How will this motivate your target audience?
- How will your goal of hosting a corps member impact your organization?
Make It a Pitch
Once you determine your story, turn it into your pitch. This is your elevator pitch, and what will persuade donors to support to your organization. Your pitch should not necessarily include the anecdote shared as your story, but instead it should be a brief summary of your overall mission and motive behind running a campaign and highlighting how having a corps member will make an impact on the population you serve. Make sure that you are confident in your ability to pitch your campaign to everyone you run into. This ability will help turn supporters into donors.
It takes a team.
It is not very likely that a crowdfunding campaign will be as successful if it is run by a single person. Campaigns run by teams raise three times the amounts raised by campaigns run solo. It is recommended to have a team of at least three dedicated individuals to split up the work and responsibilities. One benefit of having a team is that it opens you up to a larger personal network to leverage. This is critical, given that individuals are more likely to donate if they are being asked by someone they know. For this reason, all people working for your organization, whether on the specific crowdfunding team or not, should be asked to push the campaign out to their networks.
Suggested Team roles:
- Writer- drafts the story
- Designer- chooses images and infographics
- Filmmaker- coordinates all things for the video
- Communications- manages socal, emails, and press
- Customer Service Representative- interacts with donors
- Recruiter- secures pledge
A crowdfunding budget may not be necessary for all organizations, but if you are looking to spend money creating a video and/or doing paper flyers and mailers, it is recommended to set a budget to make sure you are not spending more money hosting the campaign.