Part 3: Five valuable planning tools for your crowdfunding campaign toolkit

April 1, 2015 by Frontline Copy
food farming crowdfunding campaign

Clipboard and toolbox with tools

by Faith Attaguile

I showed you how to choose your project’s crowdfunding host in my last post. Use the action tools below to build a strong campaign foundation and ensure a successful outcome.

Don’t forget to download your Crowdfunding Campaign Action Toolkit  and keep it handy for easy reference as you choose which of these basic tools you’ll use in your campaign.

And while you’re at it, download your Crowdfunding Campaign Promotion Worksheet to fill in as you go. The items you include depend upon how much prep work you need to do for a successful campaign.

OK. Let’s get started.

Decide on the Basics

(Note: We’re starting with Number 2 on your Crowdfunding Campaign Action Toolkit)

food farming crowdfunding campaign

1. Gather your team

Don’t fool yourself: Undertaking a successful crowdfunding campaign takes work and commitment. So, the more help you have—the better.

You can run your campaign solo, but if you do it right, be prepared to be comatose (or close thereto) at the end.

So, if you want to avoid this, a good team is the answer.

At minimum, find at least one other person who can help you. Assuming equal motivation and passion about your project, two (or three, or four!) heads are always better than one.

Will a business partner be part of your crowdfunding campaign? Will you hire a crowdfunding consultant? What about a virtual assistant to undertake some administrative and daily tasks?

Can family, friends or community members volunteer time? If so, how much? Agreement on time commitments is important for volunteer team members. You know the saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Don’t be left holding the bag.

Good team members will:

  • Help with the campaign work.
  • Increase the size of your initial contact list and reach.
  • Provide great ideas on how to tell your project story (if it resonates with them, it will resonate with other potential backers).

Once you’ve gathered a dedicated team, have each member identify an area of responsibility they will oversee for the duration of the campaign, reporting back to the team in daily or weekly meetings as appropriate.

food farming crowdfunding campaign


2. Set the length of your campaign

Kickstarter says projects of 30 days or less are more successful than those running longer. StartSomeGood advises 35-45 days for their campaigns. IndieGoGo says the most successful length is 45 days.

Most campaigns peak at launch and in the last 48-72 hours, flat lining in between. A shorter campaign (30 days) makes it easier to create a sense of urgency (“donate now or lose out”). Longer campaigns (60 days) may have more difficulty generating a feeling of urgency.

The kicker? Finding that sweet spot between giving backers enough time to find you and losing team momentum from an overly long campaign.

As to whether shorter campaigns will have a better chance of success than longer ones, AppsBlogger.com says yes (if only by a small margin):

“For an average $10,000 project, a 30-day project has a 35% chance of success, while a 60-day project has a 29% chance of success, all other things being constant.”

Bottom line? Check in with the crowdfunding site you choose to host your project to discover stats about the relationship between their project successes, goal amounts and campaign lengths.

food and farming crowdfunding campaign


3. Choose your campaign
launch date

 

Your campaign launch date will depend on these factors:

  • Pre-launch planning time

Pre-launch planning will be 90% of your crowdfunding work. Depending on your current social media presence, community influence and media contacts, this can take anywhere from one to six months. If you have no social media presence, you should allow at least six months to open a social media channel like Facebook or Twitter in the project’s name and begin building a presence there.

Planning time will also depend upon who and how many people are on your team. Dividing up the workload can make a big difference in how many weeks or months you’ll need to complete these tasks.

  • Campaign length (see #2 for a discussion of this)
  • Campaign start/end times

It’s common sense not to start or end your campaign at midnight in regions where you believe most of your campaign backers will hail from. The last 48 hours of your crowdfunding campaign are hours of intense activity, so you want your backers to be awake.

  • Time needed to complete your project so you can expense out your funding on same-year tax returns

Check with your tax accountant for tax consequences on your specific project. If you can set the funding you receive on the accrual method, it may not matter if you receive funding in one year but don’t expense out your project until the next.

Otherwise, if you don’t complete your project in the same year you receive funding, you may have to declare any unspent funding as pure income on your tax return.

  • Major holidays

You probably don’t want to begin or end your crowdfunding campaign on Christmas or over the New Year.

However, you may want to consider a campaign that extends through these dates. After all, people normally spend money during this time. They also get holiday bonuses and may want to give a donation to your campaign on behalf of someone else as a gift.

But remember that online activity generally flattens out the week between Christmas and the New Year. Therefore, don’t run a 30-day project over this period.

  • Other holidays

If there’s a local/regional/national holiday that applies to your particular farm or food project, you might want to launch your campaign on that date, taking advantage of any celebration activities. But be careful: You don’t want a celebratory holiday to take focus away from your project.

Keep in mind that many campaigns launch in summer. That doesn’t mean you can’t launch yours in summer, too. But don’t overlook the potential of the time between February and June. Just be careful of the Christmas/New Year holidays!

food and farming crowdfunding campaign

4. Nail down your funding goals

Whether your goal is $2,000 or $20,000, set it at the minimum amount you need to complete your project. Don’t overestimate, but don’t underestimate either.

Whatever funding type you choose (all-or-nothing or flexible) you must set a goal that will cover all your expenses. These can include:

  • Cost of hiring virtual assistants, consultants, videographers to be part of your team.
  • Cost of rewards manufacturing and shipping.
  • Crowdfunding platform fees/credit card fees.
  • Advertising costs such as pay per click and print media.
  • Web hosting, website design.
  • Office supplies, phone, rent.

Calculate your expenses as closely as possible. Add them to the amount you need to complete your specific food or farm project. No cushions allowed, just accurate accounting.

Do you think your goal is attainable? If so, wait no longer. Get started! If you set your goal and overfund, that will catch people’s eye (including, perhaps, the press). The “Drone on the Farm” project reached its goal quickly, so Will Potter created stretch goals:

food farming crowdfunding campaign

 

If you’re worried about the amount of your funding goal, consider dividing your project into two campaigns (the second a follow-up of the first). You never want to set a goal you can’t reach.

Whatever you decide, when you’ve completed your budget, make it transparent by uploading it onto you campaign page … and stick to it!

food and farm crowdfunding campaign

5. Select your donation amounts/rewards

Offer a full range of smaller and larger donations.

According to IndieGoGo, the most successful campaigns have between 6-10 donation levels. Kickstarter says the most popular donation on its site is $25. Take note of this to make sure you have enough rewards associated with this amount to send out to backers without running out.

For the lower levels, don’t just offer a congratulatory email. On the other hand, give perks that are realistic to the pledge amount. For instance, you shouldn’t offer a T-shirt for a $100 donation.

Not sure how to figure this out?

Pretend you’re the one making the donation. Then ask yourself if the perk seems right. Ask family and friends the same question. Look at successful campaigns to see what they’ve done. While you’re at it, note how these campaigns make higher pledge levels “scarce”—allowing for backer limits of 1, 2 or 3.

Below are images of higher-level pledge perks/backer limits offered on the “Drone on the Farm” Kickstarter campaign (check out all their levels here):

food farming crowdfunding campaign

 

food farming crowdfunding campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the delivery dates listed at the bottom of each pledge amount?

When you decide on yours, make sure you can deliver on what you promise. Better to make the delivery date later if you’re not confident you can deliver on an earlier one.

Missing an earlier date doesn’t only make you look bad. It means more work for you because you have to take time to send out “sorry” emails to all your backers.

Now that you have all the basics of your project campaign, it’s time to begin developing your project story. My next post, “6 Steps to a Crowdfunding Story That Lifts Your Project to Success,”  shows you exactly how to do that.

Meanwhile, have you downloaded and begun filling out your Crowdfunding Campaign Promotion Worksheet?  If not, start now!

Do you think there’s something else I should cover for this “Decide on the Basics” section of your crowdfunding campaign? Let me know here or add your ideas to the comment box below.

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