It’s almost October. What are you planning to do next month?
Next month which is really next week — I plan to attend the Blogalicious Weekend Conference. It will be held on October 3-5 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. I am really excited because this year marks Blogalicious’ fifth anniversary. I have attended all of the conferences since the first one in 2009!
I am also excited because I’m facilitating creativity coaching sessions for Blogalicious attendees throughout the conference and moderating a crowdfunding panel on October 4 that features the Techturized, Inc. co-founders, Chanel Martin (CSO), Candace Mitchell (CEO), and Jessica Watson (CMO). They are responsible for creating MadameYou.com, an online destination for African-American women to share their hair experiences, and give advice to each other regarding how to tackle hair issues.
I met these dynamic women last year when I attended the Women Interactive: A Creative Technology Festival at Spelman College. During the Festival, they introduced me to MadameYou.com. I instantly fell in love and became a lifelong fan and supporter. I loved their site so much I invested in their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign which raised $25,515.
If you are headed to the Blogalicious Weekend Conference and want to meet the Techturized co-founders, I hope you will stop by the panel discussion on CrowdFunding: The Financial Backing for Your Project Is at Your Fingertips! that will take place on Friday, October 4 from 5:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. During the panel, you will have a chance to hear the Techturized co-founders share their lessons learned from their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. You’ll also have an opportunity to ask them questions about your own crowdfunding plans.
If you are a crowdfunding newbie, check out my crowdfunding overview and resources, Kickstarter Journey story, and crowdfunding checklist and tips below. This information is based on excerpts from my new book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online (October 2013).
CROWDFUNDING OVERVIEW AND RESOURCES
What is Crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding is a web-based financial model that allows individuals to use social-networking sites to identify and solicit donors who pool their money in community to support creative projects, entrepreneurial endeavors, and social causes.
There are four types of crowdfunding: donation-based, equity-based, lending-based, and reward-based. Donation-based crowdfunding allows you to give a financial contribution to a charitable cause. With reward-based crowdfunding, you invest a certain financial amount and receive a reward which is a tangible item or service in return for your investment. Equity-based crowdfunding offers you a stake in the company when you make a financial investment. Lending-based crowdfunding treats your financial contribution as a loan that will be repaid over a period of time. For purposes of this blog post, the information we are sharing relates primarily to donation and rewards-based crowdfunding.
Three of the most popular rewards-based crowdfunding platforms are GoFundMe, Indiegogo (co-founded by a female entrepreneur Danae Ringelmann), and Kickstarter. PayPal is another web platform people use to collect donations. There are other crowdfunding platforms and online fundraising web sites that support children and youth, ethnic groups, nonprofit organizations, social causes, and women. See the list below.
Children and Youth
- Piggybackr.com is a crowdfunding platform that helps children and youth (kindergarten through college-aged kids) to raise money for their specific cause (co-founded by female entrepreneur Andrea Lo).
- Aflamnah.com is the first crowdfunding platform dedicated to helping independent filmmakers, artists, geeks, students, innovators, and thinkers in the Arab world raise funds for their projects (co-founded by female entrepreneur Vida Rizq).
- BlackStartUp.com is a crowdfunding platform for projects and ideas that will have a positive impact on the African American community.
- Crowdismo.com is a Latino crowdfunding platform that Latino entrepreneurs, designers, programmers, marketers, educators, students, community leaders, cause champions, journalists, engineers, inventors, artists, and producers can use to fund their projects.
- ShopZAOZAO.com is a crowdfunding platform that allows Asian designers to post projects and receive production funding (founded by female entrepreneurs Ling Cai and Vicky Wu).
Nonprofit Organizations and Social Causes
- Crowdrise.com is an online fundraising web site that allows individual fundraisers, nonprofit fundraising, and event fundraising (co-founded by female film producer Shauna Robertson).
- Fundly.com is a social fundraising platform that helps individuals and organizations raise money for causes they care about.
- GiveForward.com is an online fundraising web site that allows friends and family to donate to patients navigating a medical crisis (co-founded by female entrepreneur Desiree Vargas Wrigley).
- Razoo.com is a crowdfunding platform for causes.
- Catapalt.org is a crowdfunding site that works for gender justice and equality that only nonprofit and charitable organizations can use (co-founded by female entrepreneur Maz Kessler).
- CrowdHelps.com is a crowdfunding platform that helps women. People can help change a woman’s life by donating funds, professional advice, free time, or kind words (co-founded by female entrepreneur Silvia Podubni).
- GirlTank.org is a community and crowdfunding platform that helps women and girl changemakers fund and grow their social enterprises (founded by female entrepreneurs Tara Roberts and Sejal Hathis).
- Moola-Hoop.com is a crowdfunding platform for women entrepreneurs, owners, and managers (founded by female entrepreneurs Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes).
- NapTimeStartUps.com is a crowdfunding web site for mom and women entrepreneurs that will launch in December 2013 (founded by female entrepreneurs Catherine Snowman and Jenivieve Elly).
If you are raising money for your film or online television program and looking for an alternative to Indiegogo and Kickstarter (two of the most popular platforms for filmmakers and webisode creators), check out the following platforms.
- JuntoBoxFilms.com is a film collaboration and mentoring studio that uses its social platform to empower creators, writers, producers, directors, and actors to develop films with budgets starting at $250,000.
- Mobcaster.com is a crowdfunding platform focused on finding, funding, and broadcasting independent online television programs.
- SeedandSpark.com is a selective film crowdfunding platform that approves each project (founded by female entrepreneur and filmmaker Emily Seed).
- Slated.com is an online film marketplace that connects a network of investors, filmmakers, and industry professionals.
Additional Crowdfunding Resources
- Ananda Leeke’s Crowdfunding Pinterest Board
- Crowdfunding: How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign by Jane Monica-Jones
- Indiegogo Field Guide by Indiegogo (free to download)
- Crowdfunding for Filmmakers by John T. Trigonis
- Kickstarter for Dummies by Aimee Cebulski
- Ian MacKenzie’s Crowdfunding Resources
- National Crowdfunding Association
- Successfully Crowdfund Your Dream Idea on Kickstarter by Natalie Sisson
- The Everything Guide to Crowdfunding by Thomas Elliott Young
MY KICKSTARTER JOURNEY
My crowdfunding journey began with a challenge from my Ameriprise Financial financial advisor Judy Weathers during our first quarter meeting in 2010. We were reviewing my self-publishing expenses for two books published in 2007 and 2009, and estimating the expenses for a third book. Judy asked me if I could find investors or alternative funding for the book. At first, I thought she was asking me to do the impossible, but a small voice inside convinced mer to be open and pursue alternative funding.
Months passed without me lifting a finger to identify alternative funding. Then, it happened. The light bulb went off during an episode of Digital Sisterhood Radio. I was moderating a panel of creative women in social media when Abiola Abrams, author and founder of AbiolaTV.com, referenced an Essence article that discussed the power of using Kickstarter to fund books and films. After the show, I visited Kickstarter.com and learned about several authors who used it to raise money for their books. Their success inspired me to take the plunge.
Here’s what happened: I created two Kickstarter campaigns for my self-publishing package and photography fees to support my Digital Sisterhood book. Using video was a must for me. So I recorded an eight-minute video with my laptop’s web cam that was very simple and shared my reasons for writing the book and using Kickstarter. I included the same information in the description section of my campaign page. I also offered seven pledge options ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $200) with rewards that included:
- $1 Pledge: Donors names will be published in the book as supporters.
- $5 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and access to the behind-the-scenes video & audio updates that will document the creation of the book.
- $10 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and access to a live author chat on UStream.tv during the book writing and publishing process.
- $20 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above, a personal thank-you note with book logo and signed by author, and an invitation to participate in the online book release party via UStream.tv.
- $50 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above, an invitation to vote on the book cover design, and a Digital Sisterhood mug.
- $100 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and an autographed copy of the book.
- $200 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and a private one-hour author chat via Skype or telephone with the author.
With the support of my generous donors (backers is the Kickstarter term), my first campaign raised $1,159 in 2010. My second campaign raised $701 in 2011. I also received donations via PayPal and from friends who gave cash and check donations.
My funding goals were very conservative. I wanted to make sure I received every dollar I raised because Kickstarter only offers fixed funding, an all-or-nothing approach. That means if you don’t reach your funding goal, you don’t receive any of the money you raised.
The biggest challenges I faced with my campaigns were writing a book while I was conducting two fundraisers and underestimating the time it would actually take to publish the book. My underestimation caused a three-year delay in my delivery of rewards to my donors (I am in the process of delivering rewards over the next two months). To maintain communication with my donors, I posted regular updates about my writing process in 2011 and part of 2012. I slacked off in 2013. Fortunately, my donors have not complained. They are a great group of people who have a lot of compassion and patience. They taught me that crowdfunding is rooted in generosity. For that, I am truly grateful.
As a result of my experience, I believe crowdfunding is rooted in:
- Passion for a cause, project, or venture;
- The experience of connection, relationship building, and social capital within a community;
- The power of asking;
- The act of generosity; and
- The practice of gratitude.
CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN CHECKLIST & TIPS
Now that you know more about crowdfunding and my Kickstarter journey, I thought you might like a checklist and tips to help guide you through the process of developing your own crowdfunding campaign.
Campaign Checklist & Tips
1) PROJECT DESCRIPTION: Describe your crowdfunding project in 140 characters or less. Give it a name that sparks interest. You will be able to use this short description as a springboard for writing your full campaign description (narrative or story).
2) FUNDING GOAL: How much money do you want to raise?
3) FUNDING PLEDGES: What types of pledges are you seeking to receive from donors ($1, $5, $10, $20, $30, $40, $50, $75, $100, $200 or more)?
4) CROWDFUNDING MODEL: What type of crowdfunding model works best for your project: fixed funding or flexible funding?
5) CROWDFUNDING PLATFORM: What crowdfunding platforms are best suited for your project (GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Kickstarter or others)?
6) CROWDFUNDING PROJECT BEST PRACTICES: Identify five or more examples of similar crowdfunding projects. Watch the campaign videos. Read the campaign descriptions. Check out the pledge amounts and types of rewards. Review any updates that were sent to donors. Take notes on what you like or dislike.
7) CAMPAIGN LAUNCH DATE: When will you launch the crowdfunding campaign?
-Can your launch date be tied to a major awareness event or during a month when you think your audience will be more interested in supporting you?
-Will you launch the campaign with a special online event (Google+ Hangout video chat or Twitter chat) or offline event (meet up)?
8) DURATION OF CAMPAIGN: How long will you run the campaign (number of days you will use to raise the funding)?
9) CAMPAIGN TEAM: Who will help you manage the campaign (interns, social media enthusiasts, marketing/PR professionals or volunteers, family members, and friends).
10) CAMPAIGN COMMUNITY (AMBASSADORS AND DONORS): Who are the members of your campaign community?
-Make a list (use an Excel spreadsheet) of your blog readers, email list members, e-newsletter subscribers, Facebook fans, friends, and group members, Google+ friends, Instagram followers, LinkedIn members, Pinterest followers, Twitter followers, and YouTube and Vimeo subscribers, and other social networking site friends.
-What organizations and groups do you belong to? Do you have the contact information for the organizers and the group members?
-What conferences or events do you regularly attend? Do you have the contact information for the organizers and the people you have met at the events?
-What groups of people will be interested in your campaign? Do you have the contact information for the groups (web site, email address, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other sites)?
-Your campaign community members are your donor base. Ask them to donate to your campaign.
-Your campaign community members are also your potential ambassadors for your campaign. Ask them to share your campaign information, social media, and video with people in their online, email, and offline networks.
11) YOUR CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN FULL DESCRIPTION: Why is your campaign project needed? How will your campaign project make the world better? What makes you the person to lead your campaign project? How do you plan to spend the money once you have raised it?
12) CAMPAIGN REWARDS: How will you thank your ambassadors and donors for supporting your campaign? What rewards will you offer your donors?
-Research the rewards offered by other crowdfunding campaigns.
-Develop a list of 10 creative and personal rewards you can offer.
-How much money will it cost you to deliver the rewards (factor in shipping and packaging fees)?
13) CAMPAIGN COMMUNICATION AND OUTREACH STRATEGIES: What tools will you use to communicate with your audience? Are you going to create a video or use any photos (I say DO BOTH!)?
-Identify where your audience members spend their time online. Hopefully, you have established an online presence on the sites.
-Use Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest (create a board for your campaign), Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, and YouTube to promote your campaign, drum up positive media coverage from bloggers/e-zines/magazines/newspapers, and recruit new campaign community members (ambassadors and donors).
-Brainstorm ideas for your videos. How will you make your videos (web cam flip camera, phone camera)? Where will you record the videos? Who will help you make the videos? Will you use any music or photos in the videos?
You may want to do three short videos (one to three minutes) during the campaign. The first video could be used as your pitch video (two to three minutes). Your pitch video tells your story. Watch five to seven pitch videos created for successful campaigns. Make note of why you like them. Try to incorporate some of their best features in your video.
The second video (one to two minutes) could be a status update about the campaign which includes shout outs to campaign ambassadors and donors (one to two minutes).
The third video could be a final thank you to your supporters.
-You may want to prepare a short script for your videos. Keep your script simple and easy to understand. Practice what you will say several times. Record three sample videos and ask several people to critique your presentation.
-When you record your video, make sure you wear clothing (and hairstyle and make up) that compliments you. You want to look relaxed, down-to-earth, and friendly. Have fun!
-Create an editorial calendar and sample posts that you will use throughout the campaign. Include dates for submitting press releases about the campaign (status updates with any successes).
-To make the lives of your campaign ambassadors easier, send them sample posts or tweets that they can share with their networks.
14) ADDITIONAL CAMPAIGN FUNDING SOURCES: Will you use PayPal.com to collect donations from donors who may not want to use your crowdfunding platform? Will you accept cash and personal checks from donors who may not want to use PayPal.com or your crowdfunding platform?
15) CELEBRATING YOUR CAMPAIGN SUCCESS: How will you celebrate your campaign’s success? Will you host an online event (Twitter chat or Google+ Hangout) or a local event (open house, meet up or happy hour) in your city or town? Will you send a video thank you, email thank-you notes, or mail personalized thank you notes?
16) POST CAMPAIGN OUTREACH: How will you keep in touch with your campaign community of ambassadors, donors, and supporters? Will you send them monthly or quarterly updates via email or an e-newsletter? Will you post a series of updates on your campaign update page, blog, or Facebook page?