Step-by-Step Guide to a Winning Crowdfunding Strategy

Crowdfunding (link to crowdfunding ultimate guide) can be a fantastic way to raise money for charities, non-profits and personal fundraisers. Through crowdfunding, you can secure a high volume of small donations to hit a bigger overarching fundraising target. 

However, you’ll only succeed if you plan and execute your crowdfunding campaign strategically. In this guide, we’ll run through the important steps to take to create your winning crowdfunding strategy. 

Setting your Crowdfunding Goals 

What are you raising funds for in the first place? How much do you want to raise? A good crowdfunding campaign will have clear and identifiable goals. This helps you to clarify and define what you want to achieve, but it also helps your potential supporters to understand your crowdfunding campaign and what their donations will go towards. 

The SMART principle is key when creating your goals. You’ll want them to be: 

  • Specific: Define exactly how much you want to raise and what it will be used for. 
  • Measurable: How are you going to measure success? What key performance indicators (KPIs) will you use? 
  • Achievable: Crowdfunding enables you to raise a lot of funds through many small donations, but there has to be a limit on what you think you can achieve. 
  • Realistic: If you’re setting certain donation levels to unlock prizes through reward-based crowdfunding, are these levels realistic? Will people donate that much? Are you aiming too high? 
  • Time-bound: This is especially important for crowdfunding. If there’s a limit on the time to make donations, it’ll encourage action amongst your potential supporters rather than apathy. You want them to donate now, rather than wait for a bit and forget. 

Once you’ve run through the SMART principle and defined your clear goals, these will underpin all elements of your strategy and drive it forward. Each decision you make should revert back to your original goals. This creates a structure for decision-making throughout your campaign. 

Choosing the Right Crowdfunding Platform

A central part of your strategy will be the type of crowdfunding campaign you run and the platform you choose. If you opt for donation-based crowdfunding where people simply donate out of the good of their hearts, platforms like GoFundMe or JustGiving are great options. 

Both are ideal for personal crowdfunding efforts, charities and community groups. You can set up a page on each, write your fundraising message, and it’s a simple process for your supporters to donate to you. On JustGiving, you need to set a deadline for your campaign, whereas you don’t have to do this on GoFundMe. You can also access your funds slightly quicker on GoFundMe, in around two to five days compared to around 14 on JustGiving. 

If you’re running a reward-based crowdfunding campaign whereby you’re providing a sliding scale of prizes in exchange for donations, you’ll need a platform that can support this functionality. GoFundMe or JustGiving won’t necessarily be the right choice in this instance. Patreon is a good platform for this as are Kickstarter and Crowdfunder. 

Crafting a Compelling Campaign Message

This is where you really sell your campaign. Crowdfunding platforms enable you to craft your own page to detail your campaign message. This is your opportunity to make your campaign stand out from the rest. 

In the current cost of living crisis, people may still want to donate to good causes but often this will be lower amounts than before, and they’re being selective of the causes they back. This has led to a cost of giving crisis (link to fundraising trends article) where causes are competing against each other. Your crowdfunding campaign therefore needs to work hard to secure your donations. And it all comes down to your campaign message (link to crowdfunding stories article). The following should help: 

  • Give people the why. This is the crux of your message. You need to state the ultimate reason for the existence of your campaign, but also the pressing concern of why it’s important to donate right now. 
  • Tell a story that people can relate to. Detail the impact of your campaign in human terms and what the effect of inaction is. You want people to identify with your campaign and understand exactly how their donations will help your mission. 
  • Share the impact of donations and the work that’s already being done. 
  • Use emotive language to make a connection with potential supporters and get them to buy into your campaign. 
  • Showcase your fundraising target, inform potential donors of how close you are to your goals and explain how any donations, big or small, can help you get there. 
  • Use engaging photos, videos and infographics to highlight the issues around your cause and showcase data about the difference that fundraising can make. 

Promoting your Campaign

A good cause and a great campaign message will only get you so far. Without effective promotion (link to crowdfunding promotion article), your crowdfunding campaign will simply stand still. So, what are your options for promotion? 

Social media will be fundamental to your success. It enables you to: 

  • Dramatically improve the reach of your messages.
  • Provide you with a way to engage with your supporters about your cause.
  • Enable you to promote your crowdfunding in a cost-effective manner.

For effective social media promotion, first you need to define your target audience and understand who your potential donors and supporters are. You may be going after individuals or be looking for corporate donors. Either way, your target audience will help you define your chosen social media platforms. For example, Facebook or Instagram may be the best choice to engage with individuals, while LinkedIn is ideal for corporate donors. 

Your target audience and the platform you choose will also help you map out the type of content you want to create. Twitter works for fact-based posts about your cause. Instagram and TikTok are perfect for image and video-based posts, while LinkedIn offers you an opportunity to write longer form content and go in depth around your campaign, cause and fundraising efforts. With Facebook, you can do a bit of everything. Crucially, each of the platforms enable you to share links to your crowdfunding campaign and chosen platform to make it as easy as possible for your supporters to donate. 

When supporters donate to your crowdfunding campaign, they’ll likely need to provide their email address. This means once you have a number of supporters from this campaign – or if you’ve run one previously – you’ll start to build an email list. This gives you an opportunity to re-engage with these supporters through regular emails and updates. With emails, think about the way you position your messaging. You don’t want to push too hard and annoy people who’ve already supported you. Rather than a real drive for donations like you do on your social media channels, use your emails as a means of updating people on your activity, successes and crowdfunding goals. 

Think of your emails as playing the long game and your social media for the short game. 

Creating a Winning Crowdfunding Strategy

With some SMART goals, a well-crafted story, the right platform and a plan for promotion, you’ll be well on the way to creating a high-performing crowdfunding strategy. And by thinking strategically about your crowdfunding campaign and its execution, you’ll reach the right people on mass and be able to secure those all-important small donations that can lead to big things.