Leading a crowdfunding campaign can seem from the outside like a low-effort way to raise a lot of money, but it takes a deceptive amount of work. Running a campaign can often be a full-time job by itself -- and even if you find yourself putting in all that work, you might still find that your campaign isn’t doing as well as you’d hoped.
But where exactly could the problem be? The problem, of course, might just be that your campaign itself is a bad idea in the first place, but for the sake of fixing it let’s assume that’s not the case. There are a lot of moving parts to a crowdfunding campaign, and identifying a specific one that’s causing yours to fail or lose momentum can be tough if you don’t know what to look for.
So here are five questions you can ask yourself when your campaign isn’t taking off to help you figure out where you should direct your efforts for fixing it:
Since this campaign is likely all that you’ve been thinking about for some time, it can be easy to forget that not everyone is going to know exactly what you’re talking about on your campaign page, even if you know them personally and directed them to the page yourself.
When it comes to reading things on the internet, people have a way of becoming easily confused or put off by content that isn’t immediately clear.
Granted, your problem isn’t the same as someone going through some huge public crowdfunding effort -- your focus is probably going to be on convincing people you already know or who know about you to contribute, rather than convincing some stranger on the internet.
But even then, if they’re going to be lending you money, you need to make it clear to them on the campaign page why you need that money and how exactly that money is going to be spent and repaid.
Part of this clarity is for the purposes of driving people to read your whole campaign and convince them to donate, but a lot of this clarity is also just to help build trust with your audience. Being clear and simple in your writing will make you seem more honest, and therefore more trustworthy.
Also important to consider are your goals themselves. While in theory, you should be able to ask to borrow any amount of money and see what kind of support you can drum up, in practice, people only want to contribute to causes that they really feel like will be successful.
But it’s not just disheartening to see a project with lofty, seemingly-unreachable goals -- it can also make you look naive, like you don’t know what the right amount of money to ask for would be.
Like being unclear or indirect, appearing naive can also make you seem untrustworthy, even if you don’t mean to. So after cleaning up your content to make sure it’s as clear as possible, try taking a look at your goals and figuring out if they’re reasonable, and if you find they aren’t, try lowering them a bit.
“Have you reached out to anyone at all?” is probably a good question to start with, but let’s assume that you’ve at least announced your campaign on Facebook or sent out a big email blast to all of your contacts with a link to your campaign.
You. Cannot. Stop. There.
You’re probably on other forms of social media as well, and if so, you should be doing your best to connect with everyone you know on there.
Instagram, Twitter, Linked-In, Reddit, MySpace, Neopets -- wherever you are online and have friends or a community you can talk to, you should already be doing so.
Make sure that your messages on these systems are tailored to the medium -- that is, don’t post just a picture to Twitter, or a long text-based story on Instagram. Think about the benefits of each unique form of social media, and use those benefits to your advantage.
Lastly, you want to be continuously providing updates on your campaign to your followers and connections across all forms of social media -- you never know which post is going to draw in a new backer.
You should also make sure that you continue to reach out to those in your campaign who have already contributed to you.
Personally thanking supporters via email or private message is an excellent way to make them feel appreciated, making them more likely to share your campaign and advocate on your behalf (in addition to the fact that thanking someone for helping you out is just the right thing to do).
Similarly, you should provide your supporters with as many continuing updates on your campaign’s progress as you can while the campaign is still ongoing, particularly if you can do so in a way that latecomers to your campaign can see.
If it’s clear that you are a campaigner who is responsive and continually supportive of those who have already contributed to your fund, it might encourage anyone still on the fence to lend to you as well.
As with most other items on this list, staying in touch and remaining transparent to your backers is an excellent way to keep building trust with them.
Don’t forget that every crowdfunding campaign is going to fall victim to a plateau at some point in its life cycle.
The majority of a campaign’s funds will always be raised in the first week and in the last few days of its duration. Contributions between those two time periods should still trickle in, but how large that trickle will be depends on how much interest and momentum you were able to build in the first place.
Now, if that initial momentum wasn’t ever there, it will be tough to build it up after the fact. You really need to raise at least 20-30% of your campaign at the very start (which you can help along by doing outreach to big donors or community leaders before your campaign even starts).
But even if your campaign hasn’t done well so far, don’t give up hope just yet. Follow some of the steps we talked about above, and after that, consider “relaunching” it. With all your new content and updated goals, it would seem like a brand new campaign to members of your network.
Following this up with campaign updates and genuine outreach efforts might just be exactly what it takes to generate enough interest in your campaign to carry it right over your goals, or to come close enough to them that you can still accomplish what you hoped to do.
If you’re still stumped on what is or isn’t working about your campaign, consider asking a close friend or a trusted advisor about what you might be doing wrong. You never know what a fresh pair of eyes might notice.