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Your Crowd Funding Campaign as an Action Movie

Resource Center - Foundation

Robert Osborne is the Vice President of The Osborne Group and has nearly 18 years of fundraising and management experience, including work on campaign planning and implementation, leadership and major gifts, donor relations, volunteer and board training and more! At the 2014 AFP International Conference on Fundraising, Robert is bringing all of his expertise to a session on “Crowd Funding: How to Make it Work.” As one of the hottest and most innovative methods of fundraising on the scene today, he shows you how creating your crowd-funding campaign like an action movie will steal the audience’s attention, and inspire them to give.

Any good action movie starts off with a bang: a car chase, a murder, an explosion.  From there you’ll notice that roughly every six to seven minutes something dramatic will happen in the movie: an action sequence, another explosion, another plot twist.  A good action movie knows how to keep your attention from beginning to end, pulling you back into the movie every time your attention begins to wander.

A good crowd funding campaign will follow a very similar pattern.  Your launch should be an explosion of giving, tweets, posts and media.  As your campaign progresses you should update your backers and potential backers on a regular basis. Minimally you are keeping them updated on your progress, ideally you are telling a dramatic story that ends in success for our hero: you and your organization!

And like any good movie, you need a good script.  The most successful campaigns are planned out in advance.  Make sure you create a calendar prior to launch and that you create as many of your materials in advance as possible.

Start Off With a Bang

Your launch is critical.  Like in an action movie, it sets the tone for everything else.  Do I want to continue to watch this movie and see how it turns out?  The answer may be ‘yes’ if I see that your campaign has a good chance of success.  If you have already funded a percentage of your goal on the first day and I see that your campaign has been tweeted and posted many times, I am much more likely to be willing to follow the progress of the campaign, much more likely to promote it myself through social media, and much more likely to donate again to help you reach your goal.

Even more importantly, crowd funding sites are more likely to feature your campaign on their homepage or as a “hot” campaign if your campaign has a lot of giving and social media activity on the first few days of its launch.  Being a featured “hot” campaign or being listed on the homepage makes it far more likely that your campaign will be picked up by others outside of your network.

All of this implies doing a lot prep work and “pre-selling” of your campaign prior to launch.  Make sure your most fervent backers and supporters of the campaign know when the launch is and are ready to make a donation on that first day.  Make sure that your supporters with the most social media reach are ready to tweet about the campaign, post it on Facebook, Google+, etc.  If you can get a few blogs to talk about your campaign on launch day, all the better.

Keep Your Audience Riveted to Their Seats

A lot of crowd funding campaigns have a strong launch but fail to engage their audience during the life of the campaign, only trying to regain everyone’s attention when panic sets in towards the end of the campaign.  Your supporters and potential supporters need regular updates in order for them to stay interested.  And you need them to stay interested because you are relying on them to continue to get the word out and make donations.

As mentioned previously, at a minimum you want to keep them updated on how the campaign is going.  What percentage have you funded?  How much time does the campaign have left?  Why should they care about the outcome of the campaign?  An update can be as simple as providing additional information about the project.

However, at its best, the updates will tell a story.  For instance, a campaign to support 100 scholarships to a summer camp might let people know when the campaign has hit the 20 percent mark by letting people know they are now able to send 20 children to the camp.  The organization might show this through a short video featuring children, a counselor, etc., or even still pictures of twenty smiling faces.  The best updates will not only tell the story of your campaign, but will also tell the story of how giving is impacting the people you and your organization serve.

Finish Strongly

Just like in a good action movie you need a strong finish.  One of the most powerful elements of crowd funding is that it allows people to feel like they are a part of your efforts—that your success is their success.  When your supporters are engaged they want the hero (you!) to win, and they will be willing to help you achieve that result.

As your campaign draws to a close, make a last push to let people know you need their help to get over the top.  Remind them of the difference a successful campaign will make in the lives of the people you serve and in society in general.  Ask them all to make one last push to get the word out in social media.  Ask the bloggers who originally were willing to post about your campaign to write a follow-up.  And ask those who have already supported you to give again!

If you think of your crowd funding campaign like an action movie where you are constantly engaging your audience, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success.

For more on Robert Osborne’s crowd funding methods, such as when to and when not to use crowd funding, how to make it work, and how to tie it into your more mainstream fundraising efforts, join him on March 25, 2014 in San Antonio at the AFP International Conference on Fundraising

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