Category Archives: Crowdfunding Best Practices

5 Deal-Breaking Mistakes to Avoid When Pitching for Money

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NCFA Guest post | Gloria Kopp | Sep 14, 2017

When you're trying to fund a project with invested money, you need to ensure you're doing everything you can to enlist the most help from the most donors so that your project gets the funding it needs and can proceed on time as planned. Deficiencies in funding can significantly impact how quickly something is completed, and a lack of funding can totally kill projects in some cases. When you steer clear of these deal-breaking mistakes in your fundraising appeal letter, you'll give yourself the best chances of reaching your fundraising goals.

Not naming your contributors as the difference-makers

You may be organizing the project, but the backers (donors or investors) are the ones who are financing it and making it possible, so it's essential that you acknowledge that in your letter. If they're regular contributors, make sure they know you've noticed that. Something as simple as thanking them for their support since the (specific) day they made their first contribution can let them know that you're grateful for their help. You'll also want to make them aware of what their current donation will be put towards. When you let them know what they've already helped to accomplish and what they're currently helping with, they are instilled with a sense of fulfillment and pride.

“Emphasis the 'you' in your letter – leave yourself and what your own organization's part out of it for the most part. Of course, without financial contributions, your fundraising project would go nowhere, so they truly are the difference-makers” – says Fred Davis, an Operation Manager at State of Writing.

Using fear to sell them on contributing

Don't focus on the negative, or what will happen if you aren't able to pull together the funding for your project. If you start doing that, your potential donors could be hesitant about contributing because they may not have confidence in you to reach those goals. Instead, focus on all of the good that will come once the target fundraising amount has been reached – write your letter with the tone that reaching your goal is not out of reach.

See:  Crowdsourcing – A Powerful Marketing Tool for Startups

Painting a bleak picture of a negative outcome does nothing to inspire donors to join your cause. You want people to feel excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, not scared about what might happen.

Not getting to the point

If you're asking someone to contribute money to your cause, there's a good chance that others are doing the same. For this reason, you'll want to keep your fundraising appeal letter short and to the point, because they typically won't have the time to dedicate to reading a lengthy letter. James Atchison, a PR Manager and a contributing author at Huffingtonpost shares the opinion:

“Not only that, but they may lose interest in it before they reach the end. Be mindful of the busy schedules your contributors may be keeping by sending them a short letter that gets right to the heart of the matter.”

Assuming familiarity

Of course, you yourself should be well versed on the topic you're asking to be funded. But, there's no reason why your contributors should know anything about it, especially not from the first letter they receive. Assuming a certain level of familiarity with an issue or project can lead to miscommunication and information just going over your donor's heads. In a fundraising letter to build a new youth center, you probably don't want to introduce the concept by talking about the specifics of the building. You'll want to instead talk briefly about the need for the youth center to begin with. Specifics are great, but not to someone who has no knowledge of the cause to begin with. “To start with, the basics are great, and if there's interest you can provide more information after. The goal is to get them interested and excited, not to leave them scratching their heads and dismissing you” – comments Valentina Tighe, an Outreach Manager at Academized.

Leaving out the essentials

A well composed fundraising letter has four key components. Having all of these in your letter helps increase your chances of seeing success in your fundraising efforts. These include a single, concise message; facts that can support anything you've said; an inspirational factor that drives donors to get involved; and a clear and straightforward call to action.

See:  Hacking the Startup Fundraising Matrix

A good fundraising letter versus a bad one can have an enormous impact on the financing your project ultimately receives. Avoid these deal-breaking mistakes and help boost your chances of fundraising success.

"Gloria Kopp is an elearning consultant and a content manager at Big Assignments. She loves sharing her professional advice in her posts at HuffingtonPost and Paper Fellows blog. Besides, Gloria writes Studydemic educational blog for students and educators."


The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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A Guide to Building an Audience for Crowdfunding

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Indiegogo Blog | Samantha Lewis | June 16, 2017

BRING OUT THE CROWD AND BRING OUT THE FUNDS

Embarking on a crowdfunding journey? When it comes to building your audience, the more people you can get to back your idea the better — but that can be easier said than done. From email lists to social media to meeting potential backers firsthand, gathering a large crowd to fund your idea takes a lot of hard work.

  1. Leverage your network. Never underestimate the power of the people you already know. Family, friends, co-workers and even acquaintances make a great foundation for your campaign community. Our guide will explain how to use your personal network to create a solid base for your crowdfunding audience.
  2. Build a landing page. Every campaign has a story — this is where you tell yours. From who you are and what your mission is to why your idea needs supporting, a landing page is a critical part of any crowdfunding campaign. Serving as an information portal, it’s where potential backers can learn more before a campaign goes live. It’s also an excellent tool for collecting email addresses and provides a link to help you share your story. Check out how to create a landing page for a successful campaign in our guide, which highlights several great examples from fellow Indiegogo campaigners.
  3. Reach out over email. Many campaigners agree: email is the most effective way to attract backers. It’s also not a secret that a healthy email list leads to more campaign contributions. How does one establish such a list? In our guide, we’ll explore proven ways to build a strong email database, capable of capturing and growing your audience before your campaign even launches.
  4. Use social media. Did you know that after email outreach, social media is the next best way to drive traffic to your Indiegogo campaign page? That’s why it’s so important your to properly represent your product on social platforms. Our guide covers everything from when to launch a social media campaign (hint: it’s months before your Indiegogo campaign goes live) to creating hashtags and content to foster a sense of community.
  5. Contact the press. Using media sources respected by your target audience can be a great way to establish trust with backers. But before you reach out to the press, there are few things you should know — like the difference between a pitch email and a press release. Whether you need help creating a media kit or are looking for some tips on crafting the perfect follow up, you can find it all in our handy new guide.
  6. Host events. Did you know that meeting potential backers face-to-face can be a great way to cultivate interest in your idea? From launching a kickoff party and hosting exclusive events for backers to throwing a campaign after party, we’ll show you how to host for the most contributions.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How to succeed at Kickstarter: no ‘magic sauce’ but some factors help

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CBC News | August 14, 2017

From the Pebble smartwatch to Cards Against Humanity and Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Kickstarter — and crowdfunding sites like it — have changed the way small, independent businesses raise capital to get their ideas off the ground.

New stats collected by a recently-graduated Wilfrid Laurier University student and assistant professor Kevin McDermott outline why some Kickstarter Campaigns are a runaway success, and others can't seem to get any momentum.

Looking at two years of Kickstarter campaign data, Andre Fischbacher compared fundraising results from 30,000 projects and after crunching the numbers, some patterns leading to success became evident.

"We developed a machine-learning algorithm and had it perform a statistical analysis on the data," he explained, "with over 60 million data points ... we began to see trends."

Results not guaranteed 

Fishbacher warned that just because someone follows a best practice list, doesn't guarantee a successful campaign. Other factors such as the overall economic environment, or timing of the launch into the marketplace — such as if the product is seasonal in nature — can have a significant impact on the campaign's success.

See: 

Even though the research studied 30,000 cases, "there are still a lot of things that need to be looked at," he said, "but based on our research and what our testing has shown, we are able to predict the future success of a new campaign that the machine-learning algorithm has never seen before with up to 80 per cent accuracy."

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Indiegogo’s New Hub for Entrepreneurs Is an Important Reminder to Us All

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Entrepreneur | Entrepreneur Staff | August 7, 2017

Indiegogo announced last week it’s getting into the content marketing game. The crowdfunding site has launched an education center and experts directory specifically catered to entrepreneurs. Of course, the company isn’t alone in these efforts, but still, there’s a savvy reason you should pay attention.

Indiegogo doesn’t just want entrepreneurs -- it wants entrepreneurs before they have a business to promote or a product to sell. The project is an important reminder that content marketing, done right, can develop trust with a customer base before its members realize they are even potential clients.

See: Indiegogo Founder Slava Rubin Talks Equity Crowdfunding on Reg CF Anniversary

According to marketing firm Conductor, customers are 131 percent "more likely to buy from a brand immediately after they consume early-stage, educational content." Its study also found users who read content trusted brands more. Companies that post at least 11 pieces of content a month also saw three times more traffic and four times more leads than those who didn't, according to Hubspot.

Indiegogo’s articles aren’t intended as just a branding effort, sharing company info or staff stories, like the blogs produced by Kickstarter and Crowdfunder, two of Indiegogo’s main competitors. Instead, the articles on Indiegogo’s education center are designed to lead to more informed users and therefore more successful campaigns, thus boosting the platform's bottom line.

"As more entrepreneur ideas are successful, more backers choose to be part of the Indiegogo community and more entrepreneurs choose Indiegogo as a platform because they see the the many ways Indiegogo can help them," Indiegogo CEO David Mandelbrot told Entrepreneur. "We have learned that entrepreneurs launch their projects with the best of intentions but often can use expertise or partners at key points in their journeys to succeed."

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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Crowdfunding raises a roof: Tips for newbie Crowdfunders

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Charity Village  | Deborah Griffiths | Jun 28, 2017

How could an organization raise a roof for a beloved heritage home before the winter rains set in? A long-time nonprofit client of mine faced this question in spring of 2016.

The roof was going to cost $8,500. The organization had some funds put aside and needed $5,000. How could they gain this amount before winter? This was a modest amount to target and an excellent opportunity to explore crowdfunding and get the job done.

Crowdfunding has enormous potential for nonprofits. From a distance, it looks as though it could solve numerous challenges. But looking at it more closely, would the time and effort spent in learning this system outweigh the funds we gained?

On-the-ground fundraising requires steps, measures, reporting, acknowledgement, and transparent procedures for nonprofits. Would crowdfunding providers wrap those steps into their systems?

There are thousands of crowdfunding platforms from which to choose. How would we find the right one for this project and for future projects for the client?

Here’s how we began the search

We explored reviews from professional organizations and checked with colleagues who might already be using a platform to get their feedback. Few colleagues had tried crowdfunding.

We then checked-out crowdfunding associations: the US-based National Crowdfunding Association, the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada and the UK Crowdfunding Association. These sites discuss industry standards, best practices, and have excellent tutorials, current stat reports, and interviews.

Why go through this vetting?

Because any donor who is serious about clicking on “contribute” to invest in a project wants assurances that their information is secure. They also want to know that the organization would acknowledge the donation and use it as intended.

Our goal was to develop an enjoyable, long-term relationship with a platform that remains current, user-friendly and understands nonprofit business. The platform would have to offer solid payment privacy. Transparency, accountability and donor acknowledgement functions were necessary.

FundRazr

There are many quality platforms from which to choose. FundRazr, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, and launched in 2010 by CEO Daryl Hatton, seemed to be the right fit for the roof project.

FundRazr had established a partnership with PayPal early on and was one of the first platforms to set up a system that embeds into social media. You can link your updates and posts directly into that system and members and followers can spread the word through their communities. They have excellent information sheets, tips, and videos and a responsive support team and a Crowdfunding Success Guide. The set up was quick.

One other plus for FundRazr was their awareness of the benefits of grassroots partnering in rural communities. FundRazr’s collaboration with InvestLocalBC, started by Community Futures Stuart-Nechako, focuses on crowdfunding for community initiatives.

No matter what your location, take a look at how much the platform is putting back into the community, it might make a difference to you.

The campaign

We began the campaign on July 7 by sending out a lead-up article to newspapers about the history of the project and introducing the crowdfunding campaign.

We then edited that article down and distributed it through the society’s monthly e-newsletter with a link to the FundRazr campaign and to Facebook. Potential donors received the information and linked over to the FundRazr site.

We wrapped the tasks into daily operating and worked with the FundRazr team and site format to focus on the campaign and send out thank-yous.

By August 23, we had reached our goal and raised $5,262. The donations came from 32 contributors, all ages, with small and large contributions online and through checks and cash. The roof was up by October.

See:  10 tips for acing your crowdfunding campaign

How did we reach people? We took some advice from Daryl Hatton, CEO of FundRazr, who stressed the need for telling our story in a succinct way. Perhaps our story about the roof of a legacy heritage home needing repair evoked concern, hope, excitement and a willingness to give. Contributing to this simple project made things better and solved an urgent problem.

An interesting point in the campaign occurred when we supported another community crowdfunding effort in our e-news simultaneous to the Capes Roof project. We received positive feedback from this gesture and donations went up.

Connectivity, enjoyment, and social investment thrive in local and rural communities, perhaps because there’s latitude to make independent decisions, shape progress, and collaborate. From our experience, crowdfunding has many levels of opportunities for nonprofits and donors and is the perfect platform for expanding these connections.

A few newbie tips

Check with an accountant before you start. Stay current with information on tax sites to ensure that your campaign fits well within provincial and federal guidelines for donations and providing charitable tax receipts.

Try out a small feasible project first to get your bearings and to gauge what you might need for a larger campaign.

Review the fees that the crowdfunding service provider charges and make comparisons between platforms. Some platforms have monthly fees while others charge a flat rate, a portion of which goes to the provider and a smaller percentage to the payment system. Note that you could be paying out, on average, five percent of the donations to your provider. For my client, having an extended technology team from FundRazr made this a solid investment.

You may like:  Crowdfunding best practices (articles database)

When you’re searching for a platform, ask the same questions donors would ask. How legitimate are you, how private will my information be?

Consider whether you have enough staff to crowdfund. The process requires some time to set up and, to be successful, you’ll need follow-through. If you work with a board and volunteers these people can join your “team.” Platforms like FundRazr have a format for connecting your team and followers.

Have a look at the campaigns the platform is already hosting. Find a few favorites, identify what aspects resonate with you and tailor them to your site. Use your best images for backgrounds and posting. FundRazr has the capacity to brand your crowdfunding site to match the branding on your home site.

Pin your project to the top of your Facebook page and provide share-worthy news about other subjects. This will lead people back to your information without overloading them with your campaign.

If you have incentives that you can provide to donors when they donate at a certain level, this can help. Some people just like to give, so incentives can be an option.

Be prepared.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How to use your blog to fuel startup crowdfunding efforts

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GoDaddy | Ashley Grant | May 26, 2017

Whether you’re attempting to crowdfund an eBook, a documentary, an album release, or some other venture, the goal is the same: You want as many people to learn about your project as possible, and then feel inspired to open up their wallets (er, I mean hearts) to help you fund it. One of the best ways to get the word out about your venture is to blog about it. Using your blog to drive startup crowdfunding efforts could be the difference in making or breaking your fundraising goal.

Start with your current audience, or build one fast

Hopefully, you’ve already been blogging steadily, but if you haven’t, create a blog as soon as possible so you’ll have a place to direct people to learn more about your project. This internet home will be a diary if you will, with behind-the-scenes information and news people want to know.

"You should be blogging at least three to six months prior to your crowdfunding launch. The idea is to whet the appetite of your audience ahead of time so that when you eventually ask for their dollars they will be more likely to give."

It’s like dating in that it starts with a little flirting. Ask for their email address, and message them a bit. People want to get to know you before they financially commit. Then, you have to maintain the relationship by continuing to wow them with your ongoing story. (You don’t just ask them out and never call them again!)

See: The A to Z guide to media relations for crowdfunding

Choose your platform and commence editorial planning

You probably already know this, but not all crowdfunding platforms are created equally. Check out our post on the most popular ones and pick the one that speaks to you. Then, come back here to continue learning about how to blog your way to full funding. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Welcome back! Now that you have decided which crowdfunding platform to use, it’s time to plan your editorial calendar. You’ll want to determine how often you’ll blog, what you’ll write about, and how you’ll promote the posts. (Launching the fundraiser without a blogging plan is asking for trouble.)

Some things to consider adding to your editorial calendar include:

A post about who you are. People connect to people, and they want to feel like they have a relationship with you instead of giving haphazardly to a stranger.

What you’re raising the money for. Duh! You’ve got to explain what this amazing thing that people just have to fund is.

Why you want to make this brilliant thing a reality. As Simon Sinek so brilliantly said in his Ted Talk:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

(P.S. I strongly recommend watching that video before you start blogging about what you’re fundraising for because it gets to the heart of what will compel people to give to you.)

A detailed breakdown of costs. Here’s the thing: If you tell me a clothing line is going to cost $100,000 to launch, I’ll assume you are just money hungry. But, if you tell me that each piece is lovingly handcrafted by a team of seamstresses who spend hours perfecting each element of these outfits, how much the sewing machines cost, and what the money is really being used for, now you’ve made me feel like I’m contributing to a cause, not just your bank account.

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support, and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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How to Boost your Crowdfunding Campaign with SEO

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NCFA (About Us) Member Guest Post | May 18, 2017

Many people who do crowdfunding tend to neglect SEO for a variety of reasons. Many prefer to turn to tools like social media and video to attract more visibility. However, SEO can be a very powerful tool as well, and in this article, we’re going to give you a few tips on how to use SEO to push your crowdfunding campaign.

Tags are Still Important

While much fuss has been made about the uselessness of keyword stuffing when it comes to tags, they are still there for a reason. Some methods of old are pretty much irrelevant, such as using a variety of long tail keywords for Meta tags, for instance, tags can be a powerful SEO for any crowdfunding efforts, especially on the local level. Try to use location tags as much as possible so you can appear in searches in your particular region. Also, try to be relevant. If you’re not a non-profit, don’t use “non-profit” as a tag. This might actually do more harm than good. If you’re struggling with tags or keyword research, you could work with an SEO agency to help. However, focus on hiring people that are well versed in crowdfunding; don’t stay local. If you find an NYC SEO company that seems more qualified for this type of project, go for it.

Create a Dedicated Website

You will need a viable website if you really want to get results with SEO. And you shouldn’t cut corners either. Even if this is a temporary project, you could still use the website for launching later on. Make sure that the site is professionally made and that your project is front and center.

See:

Video works very well for crowdfunding, so having a video explaining your project in detail is a great way to get people’s attention.  The site needs to load fast, have a nice clear design and be mobile friendly as well. Also consider investing in an https domain, as they tend to be favored by search engines. Make sure that it is optimized for the right keywords, but don’t overdo it. Keywords should focus on your company’s name, brand name, and products. Also, make sure that it is cross-linked with your crowdfunding page as well, and reference them through any social media platform you're using to trigger social signals.

Optimize your Crowdfunding Page

Your crowdfunding page needs to be optimized and follow pretty much the same rules as your main website. You should do everything in your power to generate organic backlinks to your campaign by releasing good content through the right channels and with sustained social media marketing efforts.

Make sure the keywords you choose are as specific as possible. If you’re funding a solar panel venture, don’t go for generic terms such as “green energy” for instance, as it may include things such as biofuels, wind power, recycling, etc. Use specific terms such as “photovoltaic” or “solar cells” if you want traffic that is as targeted as possible.

As you can see, SEO can be a wonderful tool for crowdfunding, as long as you do it the right way.


The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, leadership, support and networking opportunities to over 1500+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada. Learn more at www.ncfacanada.org.

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