Crowdfunding refers to raising funds for a venture by collecting small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the internet. In many cases, you see a community come together to support a specific charitable cause, or startup companies launching a new idea across a crowdfunding platform, giving them the seed investment they need to get a good idea off the ground.
Crowdfunding has gained popularity because it allows individuals, startups, and nonprofits to access funding from a large number of people who believe in their ideas or causes. It can be a powerful tool for democratizing access to capital and enabling creative projects to come to life, often bypassing traditional funding routes like banks or venture capitalists.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the two most popular platforms for big projects, usually more sophisticated launches for products, movies, and big ideas. Over the years there have been some iconic campaigns.
The Pebble Time smartwatch campaign raised over $20 million in 2015, making it the highest-funded project on Kickstarter at that time. The campaign offered backers the opportunity to pre-order the next-generation Pebble smartwatch with new features and an improved design. This watch is still available, and it is generally beloved by its wearers.
Another campaign that made a big splash was The Coolest Cooler campaign, which raised over $13 million in 2014. It garnered a lot of excitement and aimed to create a multi-functional cooler with features like a built-in blender, Bluetooth speakers, and USB chargers. The project faced some challenges with manufacturing and fulfillment and is now defunct, but it still stands as one of Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns.
In 2013, the Veronica Mars Movie Project campaign raised over $5.7 million. It aimed to bring back the cult television series Veronica Mars as a feature film. The project demonstrated the strong fan support for the show and the potential for crowdfunding to revive beloved properties. The movie was made, and the campaign highlighted the incredible way that crowdfunding can change the game, defying typical Hollywood financing norms.
The Kickstarter ideas are still rolling out, gaining popularity. Many, if not most, of the products and ideas you see featured on Shark Tank, get their start on Kickstarter first. If you like supporting new ideas, getting in on the ground floor, keeping an eye on Kickstarter and Indigogo projects is an easy way to stay in the know.
GoFundMe is technically the No. 1 fundraising platform, as it is incredibly easy to use, and simple to put together an initiative. Unlike Kickstarter, it focuses on smaller fundraising goals, usually to help charitable causes or individuals in need. You’ll see them on your Facebook feed, helping a local family who just survived a fire, a friend who needs more care than their insurance covers, and the list goes on. Any reason or cause can be a GoFundMe. Its fundraising tools make it easy for you to create, share, and raise money. From its mobile app to beneficiary management to team fundraising, GoFundMe is constantly working on ways to improve organizer and donor experiences — and change the way the world gives.
Patreon is a crowdfunding platform specifically designed for artist creation, mostly known as a way for podcast creators to harness their audience into small-level support, that collectively allows a creator to continue their creative journey. Hundreds of thousands of video creators, podcasters, musicians, writers, gamers, and more are achieving creative and financial freedom doing what they love on Patreon.
Running a successful crowdsourcing campaign requires careful planning, effective communication, and strategic execution. Here are some tips to help you create a compelling and engaging campaign, whatever your idea, cause, or initiative:
- Set Clear and Realistic Goals: Clearly define your campaign’s objectives, whether it’s funding a project, launching a product, or supporting a cause. Set a realistic funding goal and clearly communicate how the funds will be used. Providing transparency instills trust and confidence in your backers.
- Develop a Compelling Story: Craft a compelling narrative that explains the purpose, impact, and value of your project. Connect with your potential backers emotionally and highlight how their contribution will make a difference. Use storytelling techniques to engage and captivate your audience.
- Choose the Right Platform: Research and select the crowdfunding platform that aligns best with your project’s nature and target audience. Platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and Patreon have different features and communities, so choose one that suits your needs.
- Build a Strong Online Presence: Establish an online presence well before launching your campaign. Use social media, a dedicated website, and email newsletters to build a community and engage with your audience. Share updates, behind-the-scenes content, and teasers to generate excitement.
- Create Compelling Rewards: Offer attractive and unique rewards that align with your project. Consider exclusive access, limited editions, personalized experiences, or other incentives that make backers feel special and appreciated. Ensure the rewards are feasible and can be delivered as promised.
- Develop a Marketing Strategy: Plan a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote your campaign. Leverage social media, email marketing, content creation, and influencer partnerships to expand your reach. Engage with your audience consistently and respond to their questions and comments.
- Prepare Engaging Visuals: Invest in high-quality visuals, including images and videos, to showcase your project effectively. Visual content can convey your message more powerfully and capture the attention of potential backers. Show prototypes, demos, or examples of what you’re trying to achieve.
- Leverage Your Network: Tap into your existing network of friends, family, colleagues, and supporters to generate early momentum. Encourage them to spread the word and share your campaign with their networks. Personal referrals can be highly effective in gaining initial traction.
- Engage with Backers: Actively engage with your backers throughout the campaign. Respond to comments, provide updates, and show appreciation for their support. Regular communication fosters a sense of community and trust, leading to increased support and loyalty.
- Post-Campaign Fulfillment: After successfully funding your project, make sure you fulfill your promises to your backers in a timely manner. Keep them informed about the progress, address any delays or challenges transparently, and deliver the rewards as promised.
Remember, running a successful crowdsourcing campaign requires effort, dedication, and effective communication. Continuously evaluate and adapt your strategies based on the feedback and engagement from your backers.