The key to a great crowdfunding campaign is building momentum quickly and attracting pledges as soon as you start fundraising. But how you actually achieve that?
Let’s hear how to run a short and sweet campaign from Sarah Everson from the Bridge Collective who helped the group raise the money for their Underground Sound project in a record time of 72 hrs, the shortest Spacehive crowdfunding campaign ever.
The Underground Sound Project took place during the Our Big Gig weekend in July. This is an annual music festival event made possible by funding from Department of Communities and Local Government who supported the social enterprise Superact, to organise gigs all over the country. Superact teamed up with Spacehive to match fund even more gigs.
Hi Sarah and thank you for your time. Can you tell us when and how your project came about?
The ball was rolled to us by Superact. We received an email at the Bridge Collective inviting us to be involved in the Our Big Gig celebrations; an annual event made up of lots of small community projects across the country hosting four-hours gigs over the course of a weekend, gathering together under the Our Big Gig umbrella to create a nationwide festival promoting ‘communities coming together through music’.
Who is the team behind the project?
The Bridge Collective is a community interest company whose members create a democratic community where people who have experiences, beliefs, and feelings that are sometimes been labelled as mental illness are welcomed and can talk about these experiences freely, safely and without judgement. It’s a place to participate in friendship, support, learning, teaching, discussion, being active and making a valid contribution both within the collective and the wider community.
Underground Sound is a project within the Bridge Collective, run as a drop-in project once a week with an emphasis on music and other arts for people between 18 – 30 years old, who are experiencing or have experienced mental health difficulties as well as their friends and other young people who have an interest in mental health issues.
Underground sound provides opportunities for individuals to benefit from being part of a group, learning new skills and from being creative using musical expression. It also helps to develop and build upon existing talents, learning from others and forming friendships, which extend outside of the project.
What drew you to crowdfunding and how did you hear about Spacehive? Was this your first campaign?
We toyed with the idea of running a crowdfunding campaign a few times prior to the birth of our Underground Sounds Mini Fest idea. We’d done a little research and crowdfunding was in our pot of opportunities to try at some point.
One of the reasons we liked this financial model is because it’s a democratic way to make something happen. If people like the idea and want it to happen, it happens.
However, this first crowdfunding venture started because of a rejected grant application. Prior to the campaign, Superact invited us to apply for a grant to cover the expense of putting on a gig as part of the festival but we were unsuccessful so decided to lay the idea to rest this year and take a break.
A few weeks later we received another email from Superact, this time inviting us to take up an opportunity to try to raise the money for the event via crowdfunding on Spacehive. After doing a bit of research and taking into account the £250 match-funding from Superact, we agreed it could be a fun, interesting journey so we said Yes!
What was the worst moment of your crowdfunding journey?
That was was a couple of weeks after we decided to pursue the idea but realised we had printed a load of marketing with the wrong URL on it. To make it even worse, we had already handed a vast majority of this marketing out at a local festival!
Don’t print any marketing until you have finish setting up a project page on Spacehive and you are 100% sure it is live at that URL address!
Was there a turning moment when you realised you were going to make it?
Not as such, but realising we had 27 hours and 40 minutes left to raise just 25 quid felt hopeful. We wanted to keep it real, but until then we thought we might have had to reach into our own pockets at the last minute.
What advice and top tips would you give to someone starting a crowdfunding campaign now?
As obvious as it may sound, if you are going to do a crowdfunding campaign make sure you believe in the actual project idea enough to be able to genuinely talk about it with passion! We were excited from the start and the energy naturally gathered momentum and accelerated as we progressed. The pre campaign buzz almost certainly helped us make 60% of our target in the first 24 hours of going live.
Get people involved; say YES to offers of help – always!
Valuing people and their contributions helped pay into the pot of positive energy.
We invited everyone we met to join us to help make our campaign a success. Some people had definite ideas of their own about how they wanted to be involved which was easy to say yes to; others appreciated being nudged towards suggestions, for which we were grateful too, because it gave us the opportunity to share our load.
We invited people to collaboratively design a plan, which helped us in two ways. Firstly getting together with people and creating a common purpose felt good. Secondly having a group of people coming together and showing enthusiasm to work and make the project happen was a good indicator that our forming project was popular and worth proceeding with.
Raising money was the result of reaching out to the right sources. People leafleting, facebooking tweeting, emailing links and good old fashioned talking about the campaign, were pivotal in our success.
Make a video. Make a video. MAKE A VIDEO!
We were lucky to have a great editor and some inspiring footage of participants performing at the recent festival. We took a few clips of our facility, included some genuine smiles and thumbs ups, added some decent tunes and had a calm and collected talker explaining who we are and what we wanted to do. This video was our most popular posting on our online pages. Facebook stats told us we had nearly 700 views in the first day of posting it. Our static posts generally averaged approximately 25 views. Conclusion? Videos, are much more appealing to the masses!
Put some thought into what you want to say to and ask from your social networks
We tried to make our requests on our social networks more interesting than simply hassling people to give us money. After all, it was pretty obvious the campaign was trying to raise money so we didn’t want to bore, alienate or bombard anyone with constant Give us your money’ requests. We actively tried to avoid directly asking for money and tried instead to make people smile and think about their investment in a different way,with phrases like this:
“If all 492 people who came to first screening of pledge video yesterday, chipped in the same amount as the cheapest value box of strawberries available in supermarkets today* (£1.75) we’d be over target.” Those extra bits of thought, of research and number crunching seemed to pay off.
Be prepared and willing to put the hours in – be vigilant
After putting in lots of time and effort, (talk, posters, posts) to generate excitement and interest in the project, the big bang happens when the crowdfunding campaign goes live.
Between the team, we kept our eyes on the ball 24/7, watching Spacehive, keeping the momentum going by giving live responses to what was happening with pledges and totals via our social networks.
Doing our research we knew that reaching over 20% of the target as soon as possible was essential if we wanted to fall into the category of odds in our favour for reaching the funding target.We pushed hard, but didn’t demand, and we made it!
Thank you Sarah and congratulations on hitting your target to deliver a fantastic music event in Exeter.
Feeling inspired by this story?
Share it with people you know who have a project idea and persuade them to start a crowdfunding campaign now and make the project happen!