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How to run a successful crowdfunding campaign

20 May 2014

Crowdfunding isn’t new: the base of the Statue of Liberty was paid for through a newspaper advertising campaign, with hundreds of people donating small amounts. But with the rise of the internet and advances in technology, crowdfunding is gaining momentum and charities of all sizes are taking full advantage.

Anastasia Emmanuel, UK marketing and community manager at the world’s largest crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, says: “We are seeing a lot more charities and charitable organisations implementing crowdfunding as part of their fundraising strategy. The most successful campaigns are those where charities fundraise for a specific project, for example building a school in Africa or raising money for research for a medical condition, as people who donate want to see where their money is specifically going.”

How are charities using crowdfunding?

Cancer Research UK was the first charity to build its own crowdfunding platform ‘MyProjects,’ in 2009. To date, it has raised over £2million to help fund a wide range of research projects. The charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research launched Pledgeit at the end of 2012 as a way to reach new supporters by encouraging people to set challenges and raise money.

Of course not every charity has the funds to invest in their own crowdfunding platform but there are a number of platforms available: JustGiving has set up Yimby, a crowdfunding platform for charities and has recently passed on £500,000 pledged to social good projects. New kid on the block, Give and Get Rewards, is set to launch in May but charities can register now and start crowdfunding campaigns. And of course there are the more established crowdfunding platforms Indiegogo and Kickstarter.

What makes a successful crowdfunding campaign?

Campaigns that follow these tips are likely to have a greater chance of successfully reaching their goal.

  • Pick a reasonable target

A higher goal doesn’t necessarily mean more money. In fact, 87% of campaigns on Indiegogo that hit their goal will overfund by an average of 32%.

  • Have a strong communications strategy

Set up any suitable social channels long before you launch and actively engage people who you think will be interested in your campaign. 

  • Plan a soft launch

The first 30% of a crowdfunding campaign will typically come from your own community – regular donors, friends and family. When you’ve hit 30% on your campaign, that’s the time to publicise the campaign to the wider public.

  • Engage with bloggers and influencers in your sector

Use social channels to engage with journalists and bloggers months before you launch so they’re more likely to take the time to look at your campaign, share it, write about it and even contribute when it does.

  • Have a clear pitch

Explain very clearly who you are, what you’re raising money for and specifically what the money will be spent on. Transparency is at the heart of crowdfunding and people want to see the direct impact their money will make, so be as honest and clear as possible.

  • Use video

Campaigns with video raise on average 370% more than those without. It doesn’t need to be an expensive, professional video. Good audio and getting your message across is all that matters.

  • Keep the campaign updated

Campaigns that update at least three times on Indiegogo raise on average 239% more than campaigns that update twice or less.

  • Be proactive during your campaign

Promotion is key to a successful campaign. Have a strategy for email outreach as well as social outreach and PR if possible. 

The AKU Society followed these tips and raised over $98,000 on Indiegogo for its Cure Black Bone Disease campaign, one of the first UK charities to run a patient groups-led campaign. AKU Society chairman, Nick Sireau, spoke about the charity’s crowdfunding campaign to Eurordis (Rare Diseases Europe) via a webinar.

Read more

Crowdfunding: more than just money

Kirsty Marrins

copywriter, trainer and consultant, freelance

Kirsty is a copywriter, accredited trainer and consultant working in the charity sector. She has a regular column in Third Sector where she writes about all things digital. Kirsty won a CharityComms Inspiring Communicator Award in 2016 and was named one of the 100 most influential people in the charity sector in 2019. She was previously a trustee of the Small Charities Coalition.