Creating a project
One of the reasons donors are drawn to crowdfunding is that they get to see exactly where their money is going. A project is a well-defined idea, with a proposal, funding target and completion date.
What title should I give my project?
Make it simple and specific. Remember - it's a title, not a description. It needs to grab potential donors' attention and include your organization's name.
What should I include in my project?
Prospective donors will need to be able to judge whether they think your project is feasible. In order to do this they will want to know the following:
- What are you trying to do?
- How are you going to do it?
- How will the funds be used?
- What have you achieved already with regard to this project?
- Who are you and the other members of your team?
If you need money to cover the general costs of your project, think about how you could break this down for potential donors. How will you spend the money? What will it allow you to do?
Funding a project
The key to crowdfunding is to recognize that the majority of your support will initially come from your team’s core, first-degree networks: this means friends, family, and colleagues. When setting a funding goal, carefully consider what you could reasonably expect from this group, then write down all the expenses that go into your project and add them up. Be realistic. Once you know how much you need and have some sense of what you can expect to get from your networks, you can set your funding goal. For much more information on goal setting, refer to the TCU Crowdfunding Toolkit.
TCU will run four crowdfunding campaigns during the 2019 - 2020 academic year:
- September 3 - October
- October 28 - November 21
- February 5 - March 11
- March 30 - May 1
You can choose which campaign best fits your project's timing needs.
What do I need to consider?
Receiving the funds
You only receive payments AFTER the campaign's completion date.
Stripe payments (credit/debit cards) take up to to two weeks after the close of the campaign to be delivered to and processed by TCU, so don't select a FrogFunding campaign that concludes the week before you need the funds.
On the other hand, a project launching in the near future can create a sense of urgency for potential donors, so don't select a FrogFunding campaign that is extremely early either.
One of the best ways to increase your chances of reaching your funding goal is to make a video. Videos allow potential donors to gain a better idea of who you are and what you're doing. It builds trust between you and the potential donors, and this is essential if they are going to provide financial support.
What makes a good video?
A good video is you! At its simplest, a good video can just be you speaking into a camera. The basic idea is to give people an idea of who you are, what you're doing and why they should care about your project. Oh, and be yourself!
- Camera Many computers come with integrated cameras. These are fine. You might also consider using an external digital camera. DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras provide excellent results.
- Sound Reduce background noise as much as possible!
- Light Lots! Record in the day and use extra lighting.
- Editing Windows Movie Maker (PC) and iMovie (Mac) are great.
Vimeo has great advice!
What types of video can I use?
How large can my video's file size be?
Vimeo's basic account has a limit of 500MB per file and 5GB for premium accounts. YouTube has a limit of 2GB.
Can I use music on my video?
Yes, but only if you have permission to do so from its owner! Alternatively you can use any music from http://freemusicarchive.org/ with artist permission.
Perks are the benefits you provide to your donors as an added incentive for people to support your project. The better your perks, the more likely a potential donors will help fund your project.
What makes a good perk?
A good perk is connected to your project and something which you yourself would want. They should add meaning and value to your audience and beyond.
What should we offer?
Create a menu of perks that reveals your character and project brand.
- Provide thanks – personal thank you notes and social media thank you shout-outs can really make donors feel good about supporting your project.
- Allow funders to be part of your project (e.g., their name featured, access to a live event, join in on production).
- Offer experiences where get you to meet funders face-to-face and provide these at various price points. (Invite them to live events, workshops, tours, receptions, etc.)
- Don’t be afraid to have limited-quantity/exclusive perks — people love goods that are in short supply.
Although we encourage you to get creative, TCU is a 501(c)(3) and all perks must be non-monetary in nature. For example, a tour of your lab is fine (access gift) but a t-shirt is not (monetary).
How can I promote my project?
Hand-pick 15–50 people in your network who already know about your project or what you do, and who are likely to contribute once the project goes live. Start by sending an email to this inner circle first to make them feel special and included. It is very important to have your first followers primed and ready to contribute right after you launch because other donors will follow their lead.
Reach out to organizations, key individuals, professional associations and social networks, using unique messages that will appeal to each (completing the Network Mapping Exercise in the TCU Crowdfunding Toolkit will help you with this). Ask members of your network to reach out to their networks on your behalf too!
Reach out to blogs or local newspapers and radio stations to get the word out. Media attention will help you reach out to people outside your immediate networks.
The real world
Get out there. Put up posters, have a campaign launch party... not everyone lives online!
Don't overdo it. Sending too many messages too frequently won't reflect well on your project.
Updates are an important way of interacting with your donors. Regular updates show your donors that you are committed to your project and reminds them about the people who are benefitting from their generosity. Your donors will be notified of each of your updates by email. If they like what they see they are more likely to tell their friends about you!
What kind of updates should I provide?
Small milestones (revised design drawings, photos from meetings, travel itineraries, etc.) show that the project is making progress and will encourage new potential donors that you deserve their support!
Share reviews, press releases, photos and videos! Sponsors love to see how their donations contributed to the success of your project.
Delivering on your Perks
Your project was successful!
Now you have to make good on those perks you promised. This may seem daunting at first, but you can do it! TCU will provide you with contact information for you to reach out to your donors. Get your friends, colleagues, or fellow team members to help.
Don't forget to let ALL of your donors know how much you appreciate their support!