Measurably Better: Reaching Success in Crowdfunding


Indiegogo recently kicked off a series of events, including informal discussions with local crowdfunded organizations and several informational workshops to launch Pittsburgh as one of its focus cities for 2015.

I attended a workshop with Fygment Productions on how to practically devise plans for one’s own crowdfunding campaign. Active campaigners attended the event at a startup incubator  Thrill Mill, in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty (home of Google’s Pittsburgh headquarters).

The workshop was a crash course on best practices for reaching success in crowdfunding- Ranging from campaigning basics all the way down to the rules of perks.

Here’s what I  learned:

  • How will the world be measurably better? Certainly, this is an important question any well-balanced nonprofit has already considered. However, it’s worth revisiting when planning and executing a new crowdfunding campaign. Revisit the impact of your mission, the community it serves, and the community at large. Metrics are subjective, so be mindful of your total reach and story.
  • One of the single biggest errors of unsuccessful campaigns was defending a minimum dollar goal. If your project requires $80,000 and you truly believe that’s attainable, then go for it. However, if you were not so confident about your impact and reach, then perhaps consider a lesser goal of $50,000 in this example. As some crowdfunding platforms apply fees and deduct for unsuccessfully funded campaigns, this may support a better return for your organization’s cause.
  • To increase your reach during the campaign, insiders recommend sticking with outreach channels you are comfortable using. Use those social media platforms that are populated with your largest native audiences. It’s a waste of resources and time signing up for new platforms—and doesn’t necessarily increase your campaign’s virality—in an attempt to build a public voice. Focus on the two or three social media networks you already use in your organization’s day-to-day operations. It’s helpful to create a calendar of outreach channel distribution for the month of your campaign, and is also another way of focusing the work of your staff.
  • Think about the perks your campaign will provide. Workshops with experts or private VIP invitations are great for large contribution perks. Impactful and immortal perks are necessary for levels of giving $1,000 or more. It’s financially reasonable to carve contributors’ names into a wall at your offices, while still being worthy of that level of giving.
  • Do remember to thank people at every opportunity. Even when a contributor gives your campaign only $5, it becomes an opportunity for thanks. And that “thank you” can turn into a request to share your campaign across their social networks.

Thirty days will fly by, but the impact of that month can be the success of your current project and the longevity of your organization. Be humble but considerate of meeting your goal and reaching more communities. Be constantly aware of the momentum of your campaign.

About the Author: Ryan M. McKelvey is a live artist and writer currently based in Pittsburgh. He holds an MA in performance and visual practices from the University of Brighton, and has worked and lived in South Korea and the UK. When not writing for New Place Collaborations, usually Ryan’s devising performances, practicing his Korean, and reading critical theory.