First, you need to plan your project. Most campaigns are preceded by a great deal of planning and effort to make sure there is a strategy in place to achieve your goals. Your project should be very specific and clearly laid out for potential donors. It is also important that you set realistic goals for your project. Remember that smaller projects get funded more rapidly than larger ones and can have a huge impact on the lives of your students. One way of setting these goals is to research projects comparable to yours. By exploring what other educators have requested and how they've framed their approach, you can gain valuable insight and inspiration for your own project.
When it's time to start putting your plan into motion, remember that every successful crowdsourcing campaign inevitably starts with a great pitch. By showcasing your need and the impact a successful campaign will have on your students, your story will quickly resonate with donors. One thing to keep in mind as you write your pitch is to avoid using jargon or confusing acronyms. Keep things simple and easy to understand, so that potential donors who may not be entirely familiar with elements of your proposal can still easily grasp your basic needs. As with everything, it's also important that you check and double check your spelling and grammar before you post your campaign.
Choosing the Right Crowdsourcing Website for You
Once you've perfectly stated your case, you need to make sure that prospective donors can see your campaign. There are a number of different crowdsourcing websites available to you, several of which are discussed here.
There are two main types of crowdfunding models: donation-based funding and investment crowdfunding. With the donation-based model, donors are encouraged to support a project at different tiers, each of which offers its own reward as a return on the investment. The investment crowdfunding model sells ownership or a capital stake in a business or organization in the form of equity or debt. This model allows backers to see a potential return on their financial investment, unlike the donation model. However, there is also simply a charity option, sometimes called citizen philanthropy, where collective efforts of individuals combine to help charitable causes. This is valuable information to keep in mind as you look at the different options that are available to you.
Kickstarter is probably the most well-known of the crowdsourcing websites out there today. It keeps its focus squarely on creative endeavors and is not for businesses, causes, charities or personal financing needs. So, if your goal is to raise money for your concert band to record a proper collection of their best music, for example, then Kickstarter would be an ideal option for you.
If you're looking to raise money for new equipment or facilities, Kickstarter is not the place for you, however, you may find success with these types of campaigns through Indiegogo. In addition to creative based projects, Indiegogo also offers you the opportunity to raise money for charities, hobbies, personal finance; nearly anything you can imagine (with the notable exception of investment). This level of flexibility has helped to give Indiegogo a strong foothold internationally, which is fantastic news if you are planning on running a wider scale crowdsourcing campaign.
While Kickstarter and Indiegogo are usually thought of as the "Big Two" in the crowdsourcing world, there are a number of other crowdsourcing websites that are certainly worth exploring. For example, if you are heavily focused on investment in your students, you'll want to take a look at Crowdfunder. This web site is ideal if you are raising money to invest in the future of your music education program. That said, it may offer some obstacles as many backers will be looking for a return on their investment.
On the other end of the spectrum from Crowdfunder is a website called Crowdrise, which is focused on donation based funding for causes and charities. Crowdrise would be an incredible option if you're looking to raise money to purchase new instruments or accessories for your students and their classroom.
RocketHub is another crowdsourcing option worth investigating, especially if you have a large scale, long term goal in mind. The thing that helps to set RocketHub apart is their FuelPad and LaunchPad programs. These programs give you the opportunity to connect with potential promotion and marketing partners that can offer guidance or assistance in achieving your long term goals.
Finally, there is a fantastic citizen philanthropy website called DonorsChoose.org, which is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Public school teachers can create a project for free and anyone can search through the projects and donate any amount to any project. Once the project is fully funded, DonorsChoose.org takes care of ordering the supplies and shipping them directly to the teacher and students. DonorsChoose.org has been around since 2000 and is a trusted and secure way for anyone to donate to school students.
Of course, these are only a small fraction of the wide assortment of crowdsourcing websites that are setup to help you. With more launching every day, it's crucial to your success that you investigate the different options and find that one the best set up to help you make the most of your campaign.
Ready for Kickoff!
Leading up to your launch, you should have an idea of where you expect your financials to be throughout your campaign. For example, if your campaign is running for a month, you may want to have personal goals set for the end of each week. This way you will be able to adjust accordingly if you're behind your expectations.
It's also important that you get the word out there about your campaign before it launches in order to maintain momentum throughout the duration. If you have a large kickoff, but fall silent shortly afterwards, you'll be hard pressed to meet your goal. A steady stream of information is integral to keeping your crowdsourcing campaign in the public consciousness. One of the most trusted ways of getting this information to the public is through social media. If you're on Facebook, set up a page and invite your friends, family, and other prospective backers to like it. Likewise, if you're on Twitter, schedule tweets to automatically post throughout the duration of the campaign so you're always able to remind people.
If many of your friends and family are outside of social media, pay them a visit and let them know about what you're doing, or send them an email with the details as well as a link the shows them where they can donate to the cause. Friends and family are some of the most valuable resources you have, as they will almost certainly be happy to spread the word of your campaign on your behalf.
Beyond friends and family, you should reach out to your community. Speak to small business owners, the local rotary club and media, your school's Parent Teacher Association, or other prominent community groups. Many organizations have money set aside to help with worthwhile causes and are happy to donate, but you have to ask in order to receive.
When your campaign wraps up, the most important thing you need to do is follow through with your promises. Not only is this simply the right thing to do, but doing otherwise will negatively affect your reputation, which no doubt will impact any future campaigns you're involved in. Keep your backers informed and never let them forget how important their contribution is to the success of your campaign. Seeing the results of their donation will definitely influence people to contribute next time.
It's important to remember that crowdsourcing comes with a learning curve. Don't get discouraged if your project doesn’t get funded – reassess it and try again! If your requested budget or project was very large, break it down into smaller, separate projects and make sure you get the word out to your network when you try again.
Crowdsourcing campaigns require a sincere passion for what you are looking for, combined with a clear vision of what it will take to transform your goal into a reality. You need to do your research to ensure that you've set realistic objectives and that you've made use of the ideal platform to launch your campaign. Once your campaign has launched, you need a plan to keep it in the public eye throughout its time span, and when it concludes, you need to make good on your pitch.
Crowdsourcing is a bold step forward in raising funds for your next project. As an educator, it could be an invaluable tool for you. With these tips, you should have a leg up when you launch your next crowdsourcing campaign.