Eight years ago my wife and I, along with our 2-year-old son, started the adoption process. A year and a half later, and tens of thousands of dollars later we brought our beautiful daughter home from Uganda, Africa. Along the way we learned a lot about the power of friends, family, and random supporters when it came to raising funds to complete the adoption process. It was also during this time seven years ago that we started the nonprofit LGHtv. We learned quickly that raising money isn’t easy - even if the cause was something in which we wholeheartedly believed. But along the way, we soon discovered there was a secret to fundraising...storytelling! Over the last seven years we have been intentional with the way we tell our story; from the way we package products, brand our website, post on social media outlets, to even creating the ultimate storytelling device - an award-winning feature-length film. So when it came to creating Chrome Buffalo, we were adamant about not only offering artistically designed shirts and products, but we knew that each Drive would need to tell a story, not just state a need.
So here's what we've learned:
The biggest mistake people make when launching their Drive is to assume that once they’ve done the hard work of posting their picture, filming/uploading their video, and writing out their story, that it will simply take off by itself. Although it’s quite possible that your campaign will go viral, most likely that’s not gonna happen. Just sayin!
Think instead of your 10-Day Drive as just that - “10 Days.” Not a "One-Day Launch.” We’ve seen Drives raise thousands of dollars by using good storytelling, executing a plan, and making sure to follow through. We promise, it’s worth it to create a 10-Day Plan even before “Launching your Drive!” See Example Below
We know this goes without saying, but people like having fun...and your Drive should be no different. Add energy, pizazz, and excitement to your Drive campaign. People don't want to be involved in your Drive out of guilt, they want to get involved because it's so awesome that they can't help not backing you! Don't be afraid of out-of-the-box thinking with this one. You might even run a contest during your Drive campaign:
example: "If we raise all of the money, then Jim will shave his Beard off." or "If we get to $500 by today, we will let you name our future child!" (you know, something like that)!
We’ve all heard it said that you “must be straightforward in asking people to help” with your fundraising - but we’re here to say (from experience) that it’s not enough to just ask. Here’s what we mean:
Let’s say you post on facebook a direct “ask” like below:
It would seem like this should work, right? Not so fast...There’s something that happens to all of us when we see a post like this. We assume that someone else will help, right? When we don’t respond to posts like above, we tend to think that "it’s no big deal if I don’t help because there are so many others who will help.” Well, if everyone thinks that way (and they do), what does that mean for you?
Here’s what to do instead:
Who doesn’t love to be thanked publicly? Well, I guess some of us don’t, but we promise, this works! By 'tagging' (@name) someone who just purchased a shirt on your Drive Page, you are telling the world two things:
1) That people are supporting your cause. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all like to be a part of something that's successful and life-changing.
2) As your friends and family see that you are publicly thanking others who are supporting your Drive, they will be motivated to get involved as well.
In addition, 'tagging' someone in your thank-you post automatically shares their involvement with all their Friends meaning hundreds of more people will know what you are doing and gives them a chance to jump on the bandwagon!
Post a Thank You and a “Tag”
We know this may seem scary, but we promise this is key to a successful Drive!
The best way to convince someone to care about something is by showing them WHY you care. People support people! WHY is this so important to you? WHAT is the story behind your Drive? Be vulnerable and simply tell your Backers WHY you care about this and WHAT supporting your Drive would mean to you! See a simple, but great example below:
I know that we’ve all heard it said, “there’s no time like the present,” however, when starting something, it's all about the timing. Your biggest fundraising days during your 10-Day Drive will be the first 2 days (DAYS 1 & 2) when people are most excited and your last 2 days (DAYS 9 & 10) when people realize that their time is limited in buying a CB Shirt to help you and Your Cause.
Q: What does that mean for you?
A: Make the first 2 days huge and your last two days huge!
It's as simple as it sounds - Get people excited in your first 2 days and make sure you do a final push in your last 2 days. The reason we have made Drives only 10 Days is so that you stay friends with your friends! We don't want you to tire out your friends with requests for support, so we promise, even if you post 10 days in a row on Facebook and shoot out emails a few times throughout... people won't be tired of your requests - It's only 10 Days!
In order to maximize the success of your Drive, there is a particular “order of rollout” that seems to be crucial. We think you’ll see why below. *Please Note: The order of the below steps are crucial to your success!
- Start with your Ringers! The people you know will will support you no matter what. Let them know that their initial support will help encourage others to support you as well.
- Email members of this group individually - make it personal. Your Ringers will respond best with a Direct Ask.
- Get solid support before sending the general public to your Drive Page
- Then move to your Contacts. Send short, yet personal emails to friends, supporters of your cause, or even general acquaintances. Your previous early supporters (Ringers) will help encourage this group to play a part as well!
- Send out your Group Emails.These are Group Emails to friends that you may have otherwise not believed to be supporters. Again, as with your Ringers, you may get more support here than you thought.
- Last, but not least, hit up Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc)! Make full use of these throughout your 10-Day Drive(and please remember to 'Tag' whenever possible - see #3 above).
- Try usingGreen Inbox : http://www.greeninbox.com
At first glance you may not think this service (or the look of the site) will be of much use, especially because the cost is $30 to use it... but from personal experience raising nearly $65k on a Kickstarter Campaign this past year, much of our success was due to Green Inbox and its ability to personally message all of our Facebook Contacts with a click of a button! It was the only service like this that we've tried and we lucked out.. because the personal touch of messaging all of our Facebook Friends paid off unlike anything we've done. (FYI- we have no connection to Green Inbox other than we LOVED our experience with it and think CB Drives would benefit a TON from its service)