Crowdfunding is a popular subject nowadays. Just about everyone with a dream is Kickstarting, Go Fund Me-ing or Indie Go Going. Asking people to help you raise funds to accomplish a goal is difficult, no matter how easy others make it look. It takes guts to humble yourself, put your goals out there and ask for help. I should know. I’ve done it a few times and it doesn’t get easier. You just learn a few things along the way – especially after you haven’t reached your goal. After all, hindsight is indeed 20/20. So I’ll share a few tips for a successful crowdfunding campaign to prepare you for what’s ahead and help you avoid some of the missteps I’ve made.
1) Know your supporters
Before you even start crowdfunding you need to identify your supporters, or what crowdfunding guru, Dr. Leticia Wright calls your “tribe.” This may be your family, friends, church members, fraternity brothers/sorority sisters, people in the business community and even some people you would least expect. When making a list of people to ask, think of it as making an invitation list to a party, wedding or graduation. If these are the people who you would celebrate something with, they likely love and support you. But understand not everyone on that list will understand what you’re doing. This leads to #2…
2) Know who will understand your vision
Out of those on your supporter list, who is savvy enough to understand your vision? No offense and nothing against them, but some people just won’t get it. And that’s OK. They’ll get it when it’s time to celebrate your win. Some people have to see it to believe it. Others believe and see the vision before it manifests. The latter are the people you will want to reach out to for support.
3) Know the language
When mastering any subject, you must know the language. Nothing is different if you plan to have a successful crowdfunding campaign. Understand whether you’re asking for donations and what to say in that situation, if you’re going to offer rewards for sponsorship levels or whether you are seeking equity partners and guaranteeing a return on investment. You will choose this based upon what you’re seeking the funds for and your capacity to deliver on your promise. Never promise what you can’t deliver. Knowing how to ask is probably the most important thing. When asking for money, you have to be confident but not brash or pushy, humble but not begging, and clearly articulate how their help will impact your cause. It’s a delicate balance in approach and language. You also must know the rules. There are laws under the JOBS Act that cover crowdfunding. Make sure you know what you're doing before leaping into it.
4) Ask fearlessly
If you’re anything like me, you hate asking people for help. Fear of rejection, not wanting to bother people and not wanting to be dependent on others are all common concerns. But if you’re going to have a successful crowdfunding campaign you have to silence the negative thoughts and nagging voices. Your disposition will come through when you ask whether you like it or not. People sense fear and interpret it as uncertainty or the unsoundness of plan or purpose. Be bold. Don’t concern yourself with how you think they will answer before you ask. Don’t worry about what it means if you don’t raise the money. Don’t ask from a mindset of lack or neediness. Those dispositions put you at a disadvantage and make you feel discouraged when you do get nos. Nos aren’t bad. They’re just leading you to your yeses. Keep moving forward fearlessly.
5) Give people a way out
Throughout the process of raising money I’ve learned how much of an emotional attachment people have to their money. They’ve worked hard for it, they know it doesn’t grow on trees, and they’re afraid to give it away. So when you ask them, they may really want to help you but that nagging feeling in their gut just won’t allow them to trust you with their money. Give them a way out. Let them know that it is OK if they’re unwilling to help, you understand and it doesn’t affect your relationship. Don’t lose relationships over money. It’s not worth it.
I must be transparent here and say I have not successfully reached my goal in my campaigns. These lessons have been acquired by trial and error. If you want to learn more about crowdfunding or need a coach, reach out to Dr. Wright. She is very knowledgeable about the process and has numerous success stories under her belt.
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