Crowd Funding – You are “somebody” too

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionEach day, we are confronted by the media telling us of those who have been dealt a rough hand. Those who have had their lives devastated by Mother Nature, or those who are oppressed. Some suffer from medical conditions that effect their lives, with carers unable to afford or initiate the care required. There are people who have been mistreated or simply not given what they deserve. We often greet such articles with a shake of the head, and an internal dialogue that says “somebody should do something”. But that’s when you should stop – You need to realise that you are “somebody” too.

With the advent of social media, everyone now has the power to tinker away on their laptop or device and be in contact with literally the whole world. Everyone is a publisher, and everyone now has a voice. We all have the ability to build a following, engage a crowd, and motivate a group of people to act on a common cause.

Once the crowd is engaged, discussion begins. “Think tanks” can be coordinated and the pooling of ideas can easily be facilitated. Priorities and projects can be discussed and easily identified, and the planning for implementation can begin.

Workload can be delegated to the crowd, so time is no longer an issue. Collectively, crowds can find the time to get the job done.

Then we come to the issue of funding, and this is where crowd funding plays a vital role. The whole concept is based on engaged communities, each pitching in a small amount to reach a big total. It starts with a single, lone drummer, starting the beat to which everyone will march. Then others join in to “beat the drum” and to spread the word. The collective “beating of drums” can make a noise that is heard far and wide, attracting more interest, more involvement, and more action. This is the essence of crowd funding – the lone “somebody” starting a movement that is followed by those who are close by and equally as passionate, showing others how to follow and get involved, and then we have momentum.

You too can make a difference. You are the “somebody” to start a movement. Like the project, “Healing Rahena’s Heart” which was started by an individual thousands of miles away from the issue, or like project “Choice For Maia” which was initiated by a single mum who had a daughter with cancer, it takes just one person, one spark to light a raging fire. You too can be the catalyst of change, you can make a difference. There is always somebody required to make a change – You are “somebody”.

Posted on October 2, 2016 By DrDion With 0 comments

Crowd funding – Preparing for Christmas

iPledg - Logo - High ResolutionThe early signs of Christmas used to send the neurons into overdrive when I was a kid. That’s in stark contrast to the feelings conjured up when I walk through the shopping malls in August (sometimes earlier) and see the Christmas trees and tinsel being displayed months before the event, all in an attempt to capture the consumers’ dollar. But there is one Christmas initiative that is justifiably started months in advance of the Festive period, and that is a crowd funding campaign, especially conducted by charitable and community groups, to fund the great work they do over Christmas time.

Christmas time is a period of contrasts for those in the the not-for-profit, charitable and community sectors. During the festive season there is usually a heightening of demand for the the great work they conduct throughout the year, and this comes at a time when their revenues are typically in hiatus. Many of those who support such causes focus their attention to spending on presents, holidays or buying that costly Christmas turkey and trimmings, ready for when the relatives descend. So as the purse-strings tighten whilst demand increases, those who have made a mission out of servicing the community require other, more creative revenue streams to fund their activities during what is often their busiest time. This is where crowd funding steps up to the plate.

A well thought out and implemented crowd funding campaign, prepared and initiated in September, is likely to deliver the funding required to those who require it the most, just at the time when it is most needed. Crowd funding takes preparation, and then a period to deliver the campaign. To successfully deliver the Christmas funding required to provide for their busiest time of the year, community groups need to act now if they are to generate sufficient funding and support for their work.

The work for such a campaign needs to begin in September. Those wishing to run a campaign to generate funds for their Christmas needs must plan – who are their target market, what will make the best rewards, and what is the best method for communication? There is also the need to start preparing the collateral required – pictures, campaign description, and a short video that will help potential backers see your authenticity and sincerity. And then there is the crowd – time needs to be taken to build a broad base of engaged followers, ready to receive your pitch when your campaign goes live. Similar to a street performer who spends time gathering a crowd before starting his act, a campaign owner needs to spend time building a large enough crowd to entertain and engage with their campaign. It is not a matter of starting to campaign and they will come – time needs to be taken beforehand to hit the ground running as soon as the campaign begins.

If September is the month for preparation, that then allows for October and November to be the months in which to run the campaign. The optimal time frame for a crowd funding campaign is 60 days, so “going live” at the beginning of October gives a campaign just the right amount of time to get the attention of the crowd before they shift focus to the pre-Christmas madness. It also allows for your to tap into your first tier – family, friends, and closest supporters, so that they can not only support your campaign with a pledge, but get the word out for you to their networks – the “second tier”or friends of friends. This “second tier” is much larger than your immediate networks, so starting a Christmas campaign in October allows you time not only to tap into your crowd, but gives them time to leverage your message to a much larger audience.

If correctly prepared in September, and then effectively executed over October and November, a Christmas-focussed campaign delivers an early Christmas present to the charity, community group or not-for profit in early December. The funds, often more than the funding target sought, come rolling in. Typically the funds take up to a week to clear, so early December is the perfect timing for the money to come in, allowing those who run such campaigns sufficient time to allocate their expenditure to deliver their work as planned over Christmas.

If you are involved in the not-for profit sector, community groups, or a charity, you will well relate to the way in which funds are stretched over a time of year when they are most required. But now with crowd funding, there is an effective mechanism that will not only deliver at a time when you need it the most, but to so in an effective manner, amplifying the limited resources that may have restricted other fund raising activities while giving you reach beyond that which you have traditionally tapped.  Now is the time to act if you are to be ready for Christmas. The result will be a wonderful present to your organization, your supporters, and those who you serve.

Posted on September 1, 2016 By DrDion With 0 comments

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Posted on August 10, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding for Musicians – Putting It Together Makes Such Beautiful Music

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionThe modern age of crowd funding began in the 1990s with UK rock group, Marillion, so we start this year with that theme. Crowd funding has been the domain of the creative and artistic types who have been successfully using the medium to fund their dreams. But what is it they can fund? And what rewards can be offered to potential supporters to induce them to part with their money and help the project creator? Our latest blog incorporates the successes that have amounted to large sums having been raised by creative crowd funding campaigns by the musical fraternity.

Musicians are always in the need of better gear or more equipment to help them achieve the desired sound. Crowd funding can assist them afford the gear they need.

And once they have achieved the perfect sound, the costs of recording and capturing that sound for all eternity can be exorbitant, but crowd funding has been successfully used to cover the recording costs of bands and musicians over the years.

Once the sound has been perfected with the right equipment, and the tunes have been captured in digital or “hard-copy” format, it then is the job of the musician (or their promotional team) to get the word out to the world. That involves touring, and that can be costly, and then there’s the promotion of concerts and the recordings themselves. For almost 20 years, bands and solo performers have been using crowd funding to successfully cover these costs, paving the way for current musicians to do the same.

So with an understanding as to what can be funded, what inducements can be used by a musician entice their supporters to part with their cash to fund the campaign?

Let’s go with the rewards offered by successful campaigns that have been run around the world:-

A $10 pledge could be recognised with an offer of digital downloads, getting their music “out there” and (in effect) making pre-sales. Successfully doing this tends to bolster social proof that there is an audience for the band’s music, which is a powerful tool for the band to use when convincing venue-owners to book their act. Approaching a venue owner with evidence that the performers have made strong sales makes for a compelling argument to book them.

A $25 pledge may earn the supporter a ticket (or a couple of tickets), to a gig, again offering a form of pre-sales and validation. It is always reassuring for an event organiser to have had presales made, and with the all-or-nothing nature of crowd funding campaigns, ticket sales are only made and the event only proceeds if the funding targets are met – a win / win for all concerned.

A pledge of $50 may earn the project supporter some other merchandise at prices less than face value. Remember, rewards need to be great value and sought after. Perhaps even offering bundled rewards – a t-shirt plus a CD – may represent something that a true fan may really want. Keep in mind, too, that items in short supply or gifts that are personalised can command a premium. By autographing these types of rewards, supporters may be prepared to pay a premium (imagine if crowd funding had been around in the days of the Beatles when they were young – what would a T-shirt autographed by a young John Lennon be worth today if offered back then??)

Offering personal experiences have often proven to be successful enticements to get supporters to pledge. Rewards like offering fans to sit in on practice sessions, or to come along and jam with the band can be highly attractive to die hard devotees.

Stepping it up a few notches, larger pledges worth hundreds or thousands of dollars could be rewarded by a private performance (offering the services of the group to play at a party, or the singer to perform a couple of romantic songs at an anniversary dinner).

And if these aren’t incentive enough, remember that everyone loves to see their name in lights (or, at least, in print). Offering to put the supporter’s name on the liner notes or on a roll of honour on your website could be just the carrot to get them to hand over their money in support of your campaign. Larger contributions can be recognised by offering the supporter “producer status” on your liner notes or CD sleeve.

So there are the “what”, the “why” and the “how”. Now it just remains for more musicians to recognise the “where” and use the above framework to launch their crowd funding campaign on www.ipledg.com to fund their passion.

Posted on August 4, 2016 By iPledg With 0 comments

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Posted on July 21, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – The Second Bite of the Cherry is Often the Sweetest

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionThe old adage is well known – “If at first you don’t succeed….”. But never has it been so true as with crowd funding, that if you don’t meet your target the first time round, it is best to get back on the bike and have another go. With hindsight and the wisdom of experience, those initiating campaigns are increasing their chances of success by having a second attempt. Crowd funding is not only proving to be a great vehicle for raising funds, but a perfect platform for testing assumptions and the market with little or no cost.

It is well documented that success rates on crowd funding platforms around the world sit around 40%. That is approximately 40% of all campaigns that are profiled on crowd funding sites meet or exceed their funding target. It should also be noted that 20% of campaigns don’t raise a single cent, usually due to the campaign owner not understanding the essence of crowd funding, being ill-prepared, or being totally inactive. For the remaining 40% (those who do get off the ground but fall short of their target), going back for a second attempt usually proves more fruitful with the knowledge gained in their first attempt:-

Size of the Target

The average funding target of all successfully crowd funded campaigns in Australia sits between $6,000 and $7,000. Many unsuccessful campaigns have a target considerably higher than this. Whilst everyone is keen to “hit the long ball”, sometimes it is better to aim for a more manageable and achievable target. Going back for a second attempt is a great way to have a more realistic look at the size of the potential audience. It is an opportunity to work out the true size of your immediate “first tier”, and work your target around that. Keeping in mind that the average pledge is $50 and that 10% of your database will pledge, it is best to either set your target around that amount, or spend time building your database to get to the numbers you need before you launch.

Initial Momentum

Before you launch, have your media collateral ready, including the plan for contacting the local papers, radio and TV. Plan to do some “stunts” like hand out flyers, especially at events that align with your campaign. Make sure you hit the ground running, with your plan thought out, ready to hit it hard as soon as you launch. In fact, have your first followers primed and committed. Remember, stats show that if you have 0% funded in the first 48 hours, your chances of reaching your target are just 15%. However, as you increase the percentage of funding achieved in the first 48 hours, you drastically increase your chances of achieving success (to the point whereby campaigns that meet 35% of their funding goal within the first 48 hours meet or exceed their funding target in almost every case). Too many campaigns that fail to meet their target waste precious time in the first weeks of their campaign, and rue it as the clock gets close to the end of the timeframe. Remember, initial inertia determines outcomes.

Inducements or Rewards

From the first attempt, campaign owners will learn which rewards are the most popular, and which have little or no uptake by the crowd. This knowledge will allow for the creation of a revised menu of rewards the second time around. Also, it is a good time to review the “maths” around the rewards versus the target. If your most popular reward is $50 and your target is $40,000, then you will need a huge amount of people committing to that reward tier. Now is the time to either bring your target more into alignment with your suite of rewards, or introduce some more high-value rewards to achieve significant steps to your funding target.

The Crowd

Most importantly, ensure you start with a band of supporters to give the campaign its initial momentum. As mentioned above, your “first tier” will validate your campaign. They will bring on your “Second tier” or friends of friends to give it momentum. And then the Third tier comes in to play to really take your campaign towards funding and over funding. You can read more about the Third Tier Principle be clicking here. When you run a campaign, you can get the database of those who pledged the first time round, and ask for their feedback on which you can build your second attempt. Remember, whether it is a really successful campaign, or whether you are at the stage of revisiting an attempt that fell short, the true value of crowdfunding isn’t the money – it’s the people. Engage, build, and engage again.

And for those who are successful, Success breeds more success

It is not only those who have fallen short the first time around who go back for a second attempt with crowd funding. In fact, those with one successful project under their belts have nearly double the chances of success—73%—of reaching their next funding goal. The team behind the Pebble watch raised $10.2mil the first time around, then went back for a second go, raising $20.3 million. Those with multiple successful campaigns to their credit say momentum is the key. Whether successful or not the first time around, loyal supporters will continue to come back again and again, as long as you maintain momentum. Contact supporters straight after the end of a campaign, and thank then whether you were successful or not. Ask them what they liked and what they didn’t. And, most of all, welcome them to your family and your ongoing journey.

And remember, when it comes to crowdfunding, to try, try, and try again.

Posted on July 21, 2016 By Bryan V With 0 comments

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Crowd Funding – The Benefits of Ad-Sharing

iPledg NewCampaign creators are always looking for new and different ways to improve their reach, and to get their message to greater numbers of potential backers. Leveraging off contacts and off the size and strength of the crowd is the key, so any new ways to do so are welcomed by those trying to raise funds through crowd funding. But now there is a mechanism that is bringing large numbers of backers to campaigns, and these supporters are coming with trust and familiarity already established before they visit the campaign. This is the mechanism of “Ad Sharing”

Ad Sharing is an incredibly simple concept, to the point when I first heard about it I thought I was missing something. Basically, it involves the campaign owner (in this case, let’s say it is me) getting a friend to send something about my campaign to his database. Afterall, his database knows and trusts him, right? So it gives me their attention and comes with the power of his (inferred) validation.

Then, I return the favour by doing the same for him, whether it be his business, an event he is running, or any other benefit he might seek by having my database or followers brought to him because of me. It doesn’t have to be at the same time as the one he sends out for me – sometimes it may be better for him to have one “in the bank”, for me to send out later on when the time better suits.

For those of you with a database or even a social media following, you know how hard they can be to grow. Regardless of how many contacts you have, you can considerably increase your reach through Ad-Sharing. And you will have the benefit of a third party endorsement from a person who is known and trusted by the email recipient.

And it only gets better….

If you can get a few like-minded friends together to play this Ad Sharing game, your reach grows exponentially. Grab three friends (forming a group of four including yourself) and try this…

Each of you has a database or group of followers or fans. If each of your group schedules an email to their database on behalf of each member of the group, your message goes out to not just your database, but to the database and contacts of all 4 people in your group (because they each send one about you to their respective databases). If you have 1,000 fans, followers, connections, and members of your database, you could previously only reach 1,000 people on your own. But if you Ad-Share in a group of 4 people, you can now reach 4,000 if their contact list is the same size as yours. It’s as simple as sending just 4 emails.

The cost? Nothing!

The time taken to do so? All up, about 20 minutes (each person in your group of four writes their own email for the group members to send)

And the fun, as well as the return? Bucket loads!!

So you now have another, very powerful tool in your kit bag to help you engage with a broader audience. Give Ad-Sharing a go, and see the increased traffic and success for your crowd funding campaign.

Posted on June 12, 2016 By Bryan V With 0 comments

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Posted on June 6, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

iPledg - Logo - Low-Resolution21% of all crowd funding campaigns don’t raise a single cent. Many of them are great concepts, and some even well articulated. But even the best ideas get no traction if the strategy behind the crowd funding campaign is not well thought out, planned and implemented. And of those that do get momentum, the average raise for crowd funding campaigns worldwide is less than $10k, with their potential being capped by a lack of work done in the prelaunch phase. Rather than waiting until your campaign is underway, it is best to plan beforehand and then execute the plan once your campaign is live.

Crowd Funding is not a new concept, and given that it has been the fastest-growing form of e-commerce on the planet for quite a while now, there are many examples of success, and from which proven ingredients for achieving your funding target can be gleaned. In preparing for a campaign, research what has worked for others. Specifically, look for projects that originate from the same sector (e.g. if your project is about building a bike, find projects that have also raised money to build bikes – successful campaigns have been run in almost every category). Look at the campaign description used in successful campaigns, their rewards, their video, and the general layout of their campaign. Take the common threads and use them in your campaign. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – Success is a well worn path that has already been defined for you.

Campaigns with a video more than double their chances of success. Make sure you shoot a video for your campaign. Keep it short and sharp, remembering that most people stay engaged for just 42 seconds. Tell the viewer about you, your project, what you are raising money for, and let them know how they can help you. Get to the point early. Grab their attention quickly, and keep it throughout your video (and that can be a challenge!). Show your sincerity and personality, and have fun with it.

Cool, sought-after rewards can make or break a campaign. Make them creative, exciting and good value. If you can, get some rewards from your community before your campaign and offer those in exchange for promoting them as part of your campaign (e.g. If you have a friend who offers jet ski tours, ask for half a dozen tours for free that you can offer on your campaign, and mention them in your campaign description as well as your campaign promotion). Use 4 – 6 reward tiers, and always have a stretch-reward, one that offers a unique reward for a really large pledge. Keep in mind, rewards do not need to cost you anything – experiences, naming rights, and public recognition all make for great rewards that cost you nothing.

You want to make sure your campaign looks good, from the project badge (the picture people will see on the Featured Projects page) right through to the campaign itself. Make sure you incorporate great images, whether they be photos or artwork. Even catchy logos can work well here. Sites like www.fiverr.com can develop some really cool artwork for a ridiculously cheap price, and this can help you to stand out, drawing people to your project over others.

At the same time as building your campaign and your collateral to look, feel and sound right, as well as to be engaging enough to people that are drawn to your campaign, you need to be working on building your crowd. This is perhaps the most important ingredient in achieving crowd funding success. The money will always come after you build and connect with your community. Without building and connecting with your community, it is like trying to sell Amway on the street corner. You need to have supporters primed and ready to be your early adopters. Crowd Funding is a numbers game. In our previous blog we outline the chances of achieving crowd funding success given the amount of support you have early in your campaign. A good campaign converts just 4 – 5% of the traffic that comes through to the site. Based on these figures, if you want to raise $10,000 with the average pledge being $50, you need to get your message out to 4,000 – 5,000 people. If your crowd is limited to just 400 friends of Facebook, you need to build that before you go live, or the odds are stacked against you achieving your target.

One of the ways of getting support is to “influence the influencer” – that is, to have well connected people speaking out on your behalf, promoting your campaign to their followers and helping spread the word (and, in the process, almost validating your campaign for you). Find well connected people amongst your friends and your circles (they don’t need to be Hollywood A-listers, just well connected folk), and ask them to send out a tweet or blog-piece for you once a week during your campaign. If you write it for them, you make it easier for them to promote you, and you retain control of the message.

And once you have prepared, only then will you be ready to put the pedal to the metal and drive your crowd funding campaign.

Posted on May 28, 2016 By iPledg With 0 comments