The 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.