6 top tips you need to crowd fund well!

When you’re ready to crowd fund, at first, it might seem like a lot of math and very little reward, but that is not always the case. After you read this, you will be one step closer to creating a campaign that will achieve great things.

In this article, I will help you pin down some key tips you need to do well in this often techy, jargon-wrapped industry.

1. First, break it down! “What are you doing and who is doing what?”

What exactly is your product? Many of us tend to think of the beautiful things we want to create but have no idea how to put pen to paper. And certainly, no idea on how to make it work in a format that fits the crowdfunding world.

My suggestion is to break it down into bite size pieces. If you want to be the next JK Rowling, remember she started with just one book. Start with a bite-sized chunk and make sure it is something you are able to do. You have the knowledge and the connections to make it happen!

That goes for the campaign as well. Make sure you have the right team around you; everyone has to know exactly what their job is and how that fits into the big picture.

For the basic team structure, I recommend as follows:

  • The administrative lead ensures that you get the most out of the chosen crowdfunding platform and keeping with their regulations.
  • The creative director, depending on the platform, may need a campaign video, or snazzy graphics to make campaigns stand out).
  • The logistics lead handles all the costing and shipping of rewards (more on this later).
  • The marketing and communications lead should be two. One for press and influencer marketing, another for social media and community marketing.  Yes, you should already have a supportive community of “fans” before you crowdfund.

Successful campaigns are coordinated by successful teams. Remember that.

2. “Will your second favourite Aunty support your campaign?”

This may seem like a no-brainer because you are passionate about this thing. But don’t forget, only your friends and family can primarily support your campaign. The first 30% of money raised will come from your close, first degree connections. The rest will come from second and third degree connections.

If you are even remotely shy/embarrassed about talking about this to the people closest to you, or you know they will disapprove of your efforts, I suggest you save some money and start smaller than you planned to with crowd funding.

Crowd funding isn’t for everyone. There isn’t an imaginary crowd living in the cloud somewhere. It is the people you see everyday —your work colleagues, your friends and your family that are going to make or break your campaign.

Photo credit: Cash Flow Dairy
Photo credit: Cash Flow Dairy

3. “Build it and they will come” doesn’t work here

No matter how much people like you, they tend to like their money just a little bit more.

Remember that friendliness counts. We live in a heavily-networked society, so you are going to have to go even further to encourage people to part with their money.

Make phone calls, meet people for coffee, drop your product idea into these conversations. Make sure they can hear your voice and they can feel your passion when you are talking about what you want to do.

Asking someone out of the blue to support your campaign to create a line of high quality stationery, when they haven’t spoken to you for three months is not smart.

If someone did that to you, how likely would you be to support them? P

articularly when they have never mentioned stationery in the history of your friendship?

4. Making your rewards count

Depending on the type of crowd fund you are aiming for (donations with or without rewards, investment and equity based or debt based), and the platform you are have settled on, you may or may not need to think about rewards.

If you are listing your campaign on a reward-based platform, please do your homework.

There is a good amount of math involved in this so if that isn’t your strong suit, ask someone for help. There are number of things to consider —shipping costs, printing/manufacture costs, the admin and follow-up time, and whether or not what you are offering is what people want and are willing to part with their money for. Every type of product requires a type of reward that is unique.

Try to keep your rewards cost under 15% of your fundraising amount —especially if you are shipping items (check the weight, plan your packaging, know your postage cost). At Do it Now Now, we have a universal perk system. That means we handle all the perks for all of our campaigns.

We realised this was a major pitfall for members of the Diaspora in the UK when in came to crowd funding, so we decided to take it off their hands, releasing them to do what they are truly passionate about.

5. Have an open evening. Share your ideas!

When we were starting on our journey with Do it Now Now, we had a mini-party that has turned into monthly open evenings. We invite potential advisors who have shown an interest in what we do to join us for coffee. They ask as many questions as they want about our plans, ideals and practices.

I suggest you start doing this as early as possible. Invite people who are going to be a benefit to you on your business. Tell them what you are doing and what you think the pros and cons are.

Invite them to have their say. Invite them on the journey. Make sure to invite people who have crowd funded before; their insight will be priceless.

If you don’t know anyone who has been on this journey before, contact campaigns that are similar to what you want to do and ask to meet them for a coffee separately —most people will oblige you, especially if you are buying!


6. Identify your Mariahs in advance

How to combat the Mariah Careys in your network —talk more.

Have a series of individual coffees with all your financially capable friends (try not to make it too obvious). Let them know what you are about.

Talk about how much it means to you. Invite them into your world. When the time comes (1 to 3 months later), they already know what this is and would want to be involved in your story.

I really hope this helps you on your way to achieving crowd funding greatness.

About Bayo Adelaja

Bayo Adelaja is the CEO of Do it Now Now, a company that helps members of the Diaspora contribute to the development of local communities in Africa. Feel free to contact Bayo on Twitter or email, or meet her for coffee in central London by booking at her website.

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