You’re staring at the “Submit a Project” page wondering what to write in order to make it successful. Yup, we’ve been there too. Here are some tips about how to create a great campaign that will get donors to come running.
**PLEASE NOTE: We usually work with nonprofits who submit a campaign about one of their clients on his or her behalf. The reason we do this is 1) it helps make sure the projects are legit, and 2) it keeps donations tax deductible. Only under rare exceptions do we work with an individual directly. If you’re an individual needing help, please first try to work with one of your local nonprofits to apply.
Prepare. You’ll need: 1) a good client story (2-3 paragraphs tops) with a specific ask, 2) a good picture or short video of the recipient, 3) any rewards you might be able to give donors, and 4) an email address from someone able to collect funds on the organization’s behalf. Think to yourself, “What am I raising funds to do?” Have a focused and well-defined ask. With a precisely defined goal, expectations are transparent for both the creator and potential backers.
Now you’re looking at a number of empty boxes on the ‘submit a project’ page. Here’s how to answer them.
Your Information: We need your name (the person applying) and your organization’s name. We also need the name and location of the person you are trying to help.
Title: Besides looking at the picture, this could be the only thing people read. Make it as endearing and catchy as possible. Tell me who the client is – a retired nurse, cancer survivor, working mom, etc. You’ll tap into natural constituency groups. Then tell me something that will make me curious to open the project, like “Working Mom is Infusing Art with Food”. I want to go, “hmmm, that’s sounds interesting.” Sell the sizzle, not the steak.
Goal: How much money are you asking for? This shouldn’t be a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ number, but a figure specifically tied to whatever you’re trying to fund. Ask for a reasonable amount of money. However, make sure you take ALL costs into consideration. For example, if you need $1000 to fund a project, you may have to ask for $1090 to pay for the extra fees. If you’re shipping rewards for high pledge amounts (example: a coffee mug to anyone who donates over $100), have you figured in the cost of the mug and cost of shipping?
All-or-Nothing vs. Flexible: All-or-nothing means that the pledges are only redeemable if you meet or surpass your goal. You can always exceed your goal, but if you come up a dollar short, you get nothing. Flexible means you can collect whatever is donated at the end of the campaign. Here at Barnraisings, our strong preference is all-or-nothing. All-or-nothing tells donors that you’re being reasonable and that their donations will be used efficiently. We’ll consider flexible funding, but be prepared to explain why it’s necessary.
Description: Write your story as if I’m reading a short book jacket to a good fiction novel. In one to two paragraphs, set up a protagonist (your client), an antagonist (usually life events), and a point of conflict (will this person succeed without donors’ help?) Tell me things about your client that will make me root for them. Tell me the obstacles that have been thrown in their path, and how they are trying to push through them. Tell me how my donation will catapult your client into success and stardom. Really…no more than three paragraphs or people won’t read it.
Volunteers: If you have a volunteer component to your project, let us know. We’ll put that in for you. You should tell us how many volunteers you need and any special skill required. For example, you might say, “we need five general volunteers and a plumbing contractor.”
Featured Video URL: If you have a video, let us know. Video is even better at telling a story and showing emotion. Got an iPhone or Android? If so, you’re in production. Hold it up and shoot. Then post the video on YouTube or Vimeo. That is the web address or URL that you’ll place in this section. Projects with videos are far more likely to succeed.
We’re just looking for 30-60 seconds, but again, we’re looking for a story with emotion. Most of the time, your video will be something like this…”Hi, I’m so-and-so. I was not doing well a few years ago, but my sisters and I have really pulled things together, and we’re started a new hair salon (she starts showing me the place.) It’s pretty modest, but we’re passionate about hair styling and are ready to make a go! What we could really use is a new salon chair. You know, the kind with the commercial hair dryer on top? If you could help us with this, it would really set us up for success! And if you need a haircut, come on by!”
Photos: This is the most important part of your submission because it may be the only thing that people look at to determine if they’re interested. As best as possible, your photo should tell a story. Is it a family trying to clean up after a house fire? Instead of a head shot in front of the hedges, show them searching through the rubble. Is it a woman out of poverty starting a new business? Show them in their office making the best of what they’ve got. If you do opt for a headshot, make it intimate…like 60 Minutes intimate. Above all, show some emotion in the photograph.
Before you post a picture (or video) of your client, it’s good practice to have them fill out a photo/video release form.
Donor Rewards: Rewards are what donors (backers) receive in exchange for donating to a project. You don’t have to offer anything, but they certainly help motivate pledges. For example, if someone pledges $100, maybe they get a free coffee mug, or if someone pledges $500, maybe they get to have coffee with the CEO. Get creative.
The best rewards are tied to the project and organization, and there are three common themes.
- Service: if you’re funding a cookie cart, you get cookies. If you’re funding a salon chair, you get a free haircut.
- Experiences: a visit to the set, coffee with the nonprofit CEO, dinner with the client
- Mementos: A picture of you and the client; thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.
Try to have rewards at multiple levels. On Kickstarter, projects without a reward of $20 or less succeed 28% of the time, while projects with a reward of $20 or less succeed 45% of the time. At least offer then good karma!
***Note that you are solely responsible for fulfilling any pledge awards.
Agree to Terms & Hit ‘Send’: Now read it all over and click the ‘agree to terms’ button. (See our terms under ‘About Us’. You must agree in order to have a project listed.) Then hit ‘send’ and you’re done! If your project meets all our criteria, we’ll ask you to set up an account on WePay. WePay is like PayPal but without all the hassle. It’s just a place that can process credit cards. You’ll need to link your bank account to your WePay account in order to collect the funds. It’s simple to do…find a check of your organization and put in your account number and routing number.
After you submit, we’ll read it over, get back to you with any corrections/suggestions, and then try to publish it on the site ASAP.
Good job! If you’re ready, click on ‘Submit a Project’.