As CEO of a crowdfunding startup serving the PreK-12 market, I hear a lot about different social needs or different entrepreneurs raising millions of dollars on crowdfunding sites. I mean, if someone can raise over $50,000 to make potato salad, how difficult can it really be?
If only you knew.
What if I told you that sites usually see about 50% of their projects NOT raise a single dollar? What if I told you that the average dollar amount raised on any given site is in the low thousands, not tens of thousands and certainly not millions? OR, what if I told you that on average only about 30% of total projects on any given crowdfunding site meet/exceed their goal? It sure puts things into perspective, doesn’t it?
Let’s start again, shall we? ‘Crowdfunding is so easy’ – if you know what you’re doing. In other words, you cannot just put a cause on a site and hope that the fundraising ‘gods’ will rain dollar bills down on your cause. This is why at PledgeCents we focus on educating our educators about how to crowdfund badly needed funds for their classrooms. Indeed, we spend a great deal of resources and time holding hands, taking calls and generally providing support to teachers across America so they can set fundraising goals.
We know the ins and outs of the industry and can provide you the hard numbers and subtle nuances needed to create successful fundraising campaigns, which is why we want to share some of our best practices when it comes to setting up a campaign on your crowdfunding platform of choice:
PledgeCents is a leading PreK-12 crowdfunding platform that helps educators and administrators fund learning opportunities for kids everywhere. PledgeCents was the first crowdfunding platform that works public/private/charter schools, PTA/PTO and nonprofits focusing on PreK-12. PledgeCents, which has helped raise over $250,000 since its founding just over a year ago, provides schools with a fundraising dashboard and reports to help them optimize their fundraising process.
1. Prep work:
- Crowdfunding is not the same as grant funding. You don’t write up a cause and wait
- to see if the money is approved. Work is involved, albeit less than most grant writing projects
- require, but not by a lot.
2. Know your platform:
- Most crowdfunding sites are NOT built with educators in mind, which is
- that they won’t provide fund matching opportunities; and funds earned on a project go directly
- into your bank account, which means you will owe tax on the funds raised.
3. Killer title:
- A project that has a catchy title is bound to get more hits and raise more money than a
- boring one. It’s a good idea to ask your friends and colleagues for feedback before posting your
- education crowdfunding project.
- Projects with informative videos tend to outperform ones with no video at all 30% of
- the time. You don’t need a professional video but make sure it lasts 1:00 to 1:45 minutes. Pictures
- are also helpful although less effective than video.
5. Funding goal:
- Start your goal at what you NEED, not what you WANT. Be conservative. With
- any crowdfunding platform, there’s always the potential to raise more than your goal, but you
- don’t want to be “penalized” if you don’t meet your goal. Keep in mind that platforms like
- Kickstarter won’t give you access to your funds raised if you don’t meet or exceed your goal. So
- plan wisely!
- Make sure your crowdfunding project is highly descriptive about why you are seeking funds. Describe the challenge you are trying to overcome and how the project will help your students learn more, see real improvements in their education, etc. Provide the list of items you are looking to purchase. How many of each item are you looking to purchase? What is the cost for each item? The more you break it down, the more transparent you are to your potential investors.
7. Social butterfly:
- Don’t be shy about spreading the word about your crowdfunding project. Post it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google Plus, email, etc. Whatever tools a crowdfunding platform provides you, USE them. Since a vast majority of funds raised will come from your own personal and professional network, you have to be your project’s number one cheerleader!
- When it’s all said and done and you’ve used the funds you raised, please remember to post an update. Your investors want to know how the project is going, whether it’s making a real difference in the lives of kids. It builds trust with them, too, so that if you need to raise money in the future they are far more likely to re-invest in you.
Bottom-line: If crowdfunding were so easy, then everybody would raise as much money as they can spend and life would be perfect. But, the facts tell us that only a smaller percentage of projects – less than 30%, in fact – will get fully funded.
I can guarantee you, however, that if you follow the rules I outlined above then your chance of raising the funds you need to help your kids achieve a brighter future will be so much easier. Trust me, your students and school administration will thank you!