Crowdfunding – What I learnt – Involving

Women from our sewing unit in India. We crowd funded to raise cash to install solar panels at the unit.
Women from our sewing unit in India. We crowd funded to raise cash to install solar panels at the unit.

Over the past few posts, I have been documenting my experience of  running a crowd funding campaign for the social enterprise I am part of. Some campaigns offer equity, some others debt for their projects but ours appealed for donations from our patrons in order to buy and install solar panels at our sewing unit in India. We only managed to raise a quarter of our total ask and in the two years since we ran the campaign, I have thought about why we were unsuccessful and this series elaborates on the lessons learnt.

I have mentioned how crucial preparation and timing are to any campaign. Involving your patrons in the progress of the project is just as important. Over the four weeks or so that we ran our campaign, we sent out a few tweets at the random rate of a tweet every few days or so asking people to get behind our efforts. It was half-hearted, a little reluctant and to be honest, awkward. I did not want to be seen as pestering people, bombarding their timelines with tweets and incessant calls to sponsor us.

In retrospect, our slightly stand-offish stance must have been confusing. We had a project, well researched and well presented and yet oddly, one we were shy to promote. I am not suggesting that you about bleat constantly about your campaign urging people to back it. But do consider involving those who are already backing the project so they become ambassadors for it. It is about appealing to their networks who will in turn inform their crowds. So the whole enterprise gathers energy and steams ahead.

That is all very good, I hear you say. But how does one go about including the patrons and getting them to spread the word? Simple. Ask them. Put a call out to your backers asking them how they can help you. Suggest that they hold their own offline events. Pass on some of your ideas for promotions and encourage them to take up your cause. Remember, these are people who have already bought into your project. They believe in it. They want to see it succeed. Why not let them help it reach its goal?

It will not be easy. You will think of a hundred reasons why people won’t do it. However, most people would like to participate in the success of something they like. Whether it is voting for a reality TV contest or whipping up support for a crowd funding campaign. Allow people to become part of your team and let them delight in its positive outcome.

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