Everyone knows (or should know by now) that a minimum of 30% of your crowdfunding goal comes from those closest to you. From your peeps (ie. friends and family, the soccer team, the fellowship group, the gang at work).
The most successful campaigns have that in the can before they ever go live. Those savvy campaigners view the launch as something that happens in stages — a piece of the crowdfunding puzzle — definitely not just on campaign opening day.
You might define the launch period as having three distinct stages, just like the famous Saturn V rocket that launched all Apollo space missions in the US between 1966-73.
Stage I – Lift-Off: The Key Allies Launch
Think of anyone/everyone who might answer the call to do at least one of three things for you: (1) be a campaign gossiper (by that, I mean, everything you tell them about the campaign from now on, they promise to tell everyone they know); (2) be a campaign contributor; (3) be a campaign volunteer.
Create this email and phone list in an Excel spreadsheet at least 3 months before you intend to launch your campaign. Write a nice email telling your campaign story briefly and creatively, and ask for them to help in one or more of these ways. Ask them to confirm how they can participate and then log that information in your spreadsheet for follow up.
Vancouver’s Rob Maguire did a great job of this with his Hug with Arms campaign, building gossipers, contributors and volunteers early to support his unique venture to support indie visual artists in 2014.
Like stage 1 of the Saturn V, you’ve just lifted off and sent your payload its first 36 miles up into the atmosphere!
Stage II – Acceleration: Launch Event
Your launch event can be very simple; it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t!) cost much. Email and Facebook invite your broadest possible crowd (including your key allies, some of whom you will have asked to help you organize this event)—anyone who might be interested in your project, cause or activity—give them the spiel, and ask them to come.
Reserve the church fellowship hall, a schoolroom, the library, or the rec room at your house. Your goals are to (1) raise 30% of your goal at that event and/or in the period between that event and the launch of your campaign (2) to engage them for even more support through the campaign period.
Engage your core as allies:
- At the event, suggest some ways that they can become part of your tribe, and help you over the period of the campaign (4-6 week commitment)
- Make their tasks simple and varied (nothing that takes more than a few minutes each)
Invites need to go a month before you launch for an event two weeks before your campaign launch, so you need to start planning 2-3 months in advance of launch. Pick your launch date and work everything back from that.
- Put ways allies can share your upcoming campaign on a checklist and hand them out at the event, but also tell them they’ll each get an email version, or tell them you’ll email them a task each day that will take only a few minutes. (You can do this through the platform “updates” tool on Indiegogo, for example.) Example: “Share the campaign on FB, with a header note that says “I contributed to Joe’s awesome crowdfunding project for Mayerthorpe’s new community park project. It’s really important to him. He’s a great guy, and I hope my friends will consider contributing to it too.” Some portals (like Fundrazr.com) now offer the ability to share photos of purchases of individual perks – a great way to promote campaigns!
- Give your allies a tribe name. We named our Eating Myself Crazy author’s tribe The Moody Foodys. Their checklist looked like a grocery shopping list. The whole event was based on healthy food. A local radio talk show host who was a friend of the author’s came and together they made some recipes and talked like they were on air. It was a blast and people got to eat the food after. The host was hilarious. This builds identity and ownership by allies in the project.
- Make it easy and keep activity going for campaign length. Spread 10 tasks over the 4 weeks and those who provide evidence of doing all the tasks get a special reward at the campaign’s end.
- Incentives are GOOD.
Now you’ve just accelerated your campaign into the stratosphere…the Saturn V second stage went 106 miles into the atmosphere!
Stage III – The Orbit: Campaign Launch
Now, and only now, are you ready for the actual campaign launch. When you launch, you should now have (1) key allies ready to share all the news, videos, updates and other content you’re going to start kicking out, and (2) 30% of your funds collected and ready to drop into your bucket to show the world that you are a campaign to be noticed. The algorithms for your campaign platform will start humming, and hopefully with all that activity you’ll be picked for a featured campaign, moving your campaign into that all important orbit for the campaign period.
And just like the third stage of Saturn V, you’ll be moving strong & steadily towards your goal.