The Estates & Facilities Commercial team at Swansea University recently raised over £100,000 through crowdfunding, to launch a cycle hire scheme in the city in partnership with Nextbike and Santander. Here are their top tips:
1. Go for it
Don’t be put off if you can’t get funding from traditional sources. Banks, governments, public institutions all tend to be risk averse.
With crowdfunding all that matters is that you create something that people want. If you can persuade enough people that your idea is a good one, then raising funds this way will be easy.
2. Know your crowd
If your project is a very niche interest, then you might need to tap into a global community of enthusiasts in order to get enough backers. On the other hand, if your project has a small geographic reach, then you will need to get a wide range of local groups and interests to support you.
Don’t just assume people will be interested. Map out all the possible groups/segments who might be interested. How many people are included in each group/segment? What % of these will visit your webpage? What % of webpage visitors will pledge backing? How much will they pledge on average?
If you calculate the ranges of the above, then you can work out how much you can expect to raise.
3. It’s not me, it’s you
People interested in supporting your project don’t want to know what’s in it for you. They want to know what’s in it for them.
Most fundraising sites (crowdfunder.co.uk, kickstarter.com etc.) let you create ‘rewards’ for people who pledge their financial support. This might be a discount on your product, and exclusive opportunity, or it might simply be recognition of their good deed. Be as creative as possible and make them feel like they’re part of something.
4. Keep it short and sweet
It’s important for any fundraising campaign to keep momentum. If you try and crowdfund for too long then people will get bored and lose interest. A 4-6 week window is ideal for most projects.
5. Don’t underestimate how much money people might give
Try to have a range of pledge/reward values, starting at £5 and going all the way up to 50% of the total amount you are trying to raise. You never know who might be willing to support you and how much they might be willing to give.
6. The laws of physics
Newton’s laws of motion apply to physical objects, but they can apply to crowdfunding too. You need to overcome inertia and build momentum.
Don’t start the official crowdfunding campaign until you’ve done the groundwork. It’s important to get publicity out in advance of your launch date and build a mailing list of potential backers if possible. Make sure that you have several people ready to pledge on day one, people are much more likely to back a project when they can see that other people are already supporting it.
7. Beat the mid-campaign dip
Crowdfunding campaigns tend to start and finish strong but often have a lull in the middle. This is when you will have to be at your most creative! Events and PR stunts can help to keep donations going. Remember to shout about your successes, people want to back a project that is on the up.
8. Have an achievable target
Have you ever been a long walk or run and the finish has seemed impossibly distant? Instead you focus on closer objectives – let’s get to the top of the next hill; let’s do one more lap of the track.
It’s the same with crowdfunding – if you set the target too far away then people won’t be motivated. It’s better to set an achievable target at the beginning and then add new “stretch” targets once this has been met.
9. Speculate to accumulate
Try to identify some of your own funds that can be used at the start of the campaign and at any time there’s a dip in momentum. The rewards of keeping momentum going and pledges coming in should outweigh your small outlay. You are asking your backers to invest in your idea, so don’t be afraid to do the same yourself.
10. Have Fun
We can help you develop and deliver successful commercial projects so if you have an initiative you would like our help with please contact us
- Thursday 30 August 2018 10.45 BST
- Thursday 30 August 2018 09.44 BST
- Swansea University