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How to Crowdfund Your Project: A Checklist

May 08, 2017 • By TAB team

Whether you’re a creative, an entrepreneur or an altruist, crowdfunding is a powerful way to fund projects. Here are some tips to ensure your campaign gets off to the best possible start.

Since the dawn of crowdfunding, there have been some monster success stories.

These include the Pebble E-Paper Watch, which raised over $10 million in 37 days and is famous for being Kickstarter's breakout success, UK beer producer Brewdog who have raised £26 million across 4 equity campaigns since 2009, and Oculus Rift, a virtual Reality company who raised nearly $2.5 million in 30 days before going on to be acquired by Facebook for $2 billion.

Of course, there have been countless horror stories too, including a number of projects intended to fund the lifestyles, travel and hedonism of a new generation of freeloaders.

Whether you’re a creative, an entrepreneur or an altruist, crowdfunding is a powerful way to fund projects. Here are some tips to ensure your campaign gets off to the best possible start.

Pick the right platform

Don’t just jump on the first platform you find. Think about investor reach — both breadth and depth — and choose the right platform for your specific project.

Weigh up the pros and cons of specialist creative, startup and hybrid platforms. Niche or generic? Local or international? The nature of your project will determine the right place to fund it. Different platforms support niche communities that, whilst smaller than the behemoths, can provide rich pockets of liquidity and investor expertise. For social action, try StartSomeGood. For biotech projects, look at CapitalCell. For legal aid, try CrowdJustice.

You can use Crowdsurfer’s comprehensive data and analytics to help find the right “home” for your project, increasing your chances of success.

Plan your campaign

Research successful campaigns that are relevant to your own — study them, cherry pick good ideas, get in contact with the founders and learn from what they did right and how they achieved their success.

It’s equally important to look at failed campaigns — try to figure out why they stalled and learn from their mistakes.

Again, Crowdsurfer’s “Raise” feature is a great place to start your research.

Leverage your social presence

Create an online presence away from the crowdfunding platform. The sooner you start this process, the better, so begin building a community across the social media ecosystem, ready to be “turned on” .  Trying to build a following from scratch after launching your campaign won’t work.

To speed up your progress, ask any social media “power users” that you know to give you a helping hand. You may have secretly mocked them for being cynical networkers — but now you need them.

Check out this guide on Buffer for creating an extraordinary social media strategy from scratch.

Pay it forward

An easy way to gain trust and support in the crowdfunding community is to become an active member of the platform community yourself.

Do this by  interacting with other members of the platform community and  putting your money where your mouth is by backing other’s projects. It’s crowd finance karma: what goes around comes around.

Invest in content

Your chances of selling your idea can be greatly helped if you use first class content – and a killer campaign video. Create an arsenal of content before launching and drip-feed it onto the platform and across social media channels during the campaign. You should also keep people updated on how the campaign is progressing.

Explain what, why, who, where, when you are asking for funding. Show that you have “skin in the game”  and  talk about what you have already committed to the project in terms of money, time, personal sacrifices. And if you’re reward crowdfunding, create concrete rewards. You can also give everyone a chance to back you  by create granular entry points for backers. People respond positively if you give them access to genuinely cool stuff. So be bold.

Get a firm grip on financials

It’s important you don’t ask for funding to start the project from scratch,  so  show that you have taken things as far as you can without additional financial help. Be transparent by providing a detailed funding breakdown.

Don’t aim to high and be sure to pitch for the right amount of funding — consider tax treatments in your local jurisdiction — corporation/income tax, and also VAT if applicable. Remember to factor in platform fees and pass through to backers if necessary.

A firm grip on the financials from the get-go is essential when looking to raise any amount of money, large or small.

Execution is everything

Early momentum is crucial — who is going to fund you on day one, day two, day three? Choreograph early pledges to generate the perception of steady momentum in the early stages of your campaign. Continually update the platform community and followers on social media. And root your campaign in the real world by inviting people to meet you and your business as your campaign gets underway.

Follow-up

If you’re lucky enough to hit your target, share your progress with the community and update backers on the status of their rewards. Take care of the admin.

The community you build whilst funding your project is a significant long-term asset to your enterprise. It consists of people who believe in your idea enough to back it. Keep it alive and turn these investors into customers. Also, don’t be afraid to use the community as a testing ground for future ideas — plug them in your followers and ask for input.

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