Guest Post: In the Thick of It: Thoughts from a Crowdfunding Novice

17 January 2016 | 11 Comments

With previous guest author Liza Baskir–our first-ever guest to write about non-profit crowdfunding–having now launched a campaign for her organization, I asked her if she’d be willing to return to this blog to share what it feels like to be running a first-time campaign. Here’s Liza’s open, honest, and vulnerable perspective:

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Back in September 2015, I barely knew what crowdfunding was.  I was vaguely aware it had to do with potato salad and soylent.

That all changed when I started a job with SPUR, a civic planning organization in the Bay Area.  My supervisor tasked me with managing a campaign raising funds for our new office.  Suddenly I found myself getting asked numerous questions, and I couldn’t confidently answer any of them.

I jumped head first into the vast ocean of information that is the Internet.  Through a combination of online research, the advice of veteran fundraisers and sheer force of will, we launched our SPUR on Broadway campaign.

We are a little over a week in, and I am no crowdfunding expert.  However, being in the middle of a campaign provides me with an interesting perspective.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Struggles

  • The campaign can take over your life.
    • Since launching the campaign, I have had an incessant need to check my email for new contributions every 5 minutes.  I feel like if I don’t check on the campaign, it’ll boil over.
    • Staring at the computer and willing a contribution to come through does not work no matter how bad I want it (or how hard I squint my eyes).
  • Sometimes when I posting to social media I feel like I am shouting into the void.  In these moments no matter how much I post, it stares back at me blankly.
  • Patience is hard.  Successful campaigns make it look like raising $50,000 is a piece of cake.  The ubiquitous crowdfunding thermometer reveals nothing of the hard work and countless hours put into those campaigns.

Successes

  • It is exciting every time we get a contribution.  My co-worker caught me doing a contribution dance, but I was too excited to be embarrassed.
  • Running this campaign has brought me closer to my co-workers because we are all working towards a common goal.
  • Crowdfunding is a great way to build community.  I have already re-connected with a buddy from college because of the campaign, and I can’t wait to see what other connections it forges.

Hopefully you can relate to these experiences.  At the very least, it’s been an entertaining distraction from the campaign.

What are some struggles and successes you have experienced as a first-time creator?

Also read: Live-Blogging Lesson #8: The Feeling of Running a Mega Project

Leave a Comment

11 Comments on “Guest Post: In the Thick of It: Thoughts from a Crowdfunding Novice

  1. As we have been running this campaign, I have found that the part I enjoy most is communicating with our community. As I said in the original post, we are currently in the process of opening up our new office, and it’s pretty cool to keep folks updated on our progress in real time through the campaign. I feel the updates I post are meaningful, which makes it a positive experience for everyone.

  2. Stan,

    That’s another great point ~ not simply communicating for communication’s sake, but actually providing the Backers a “sense of ownership” is truly awesome. They’re truly invested in the entire enterprise.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  3. Joe,

    You are so right about communication and the success of a KS project. That goes true for everything in life. I think keeping the communication lines open and being as transparent as possible, gives backers a sense of ownership to the project as well as confidence in the project creator.

  4. Jamey,

    Engagement, through communication, is the single most important aspect to any KS project, but moreover in any social environment. By and large, people don’t get divorced because they communicated too much. : )

    I’be seen very successful re-launches due to the fact that the creator maintained an open and frequent dialogue with those who displayed initial support. People can forgive a great many things when there’s contrition with communication.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  5. Joe: Indeed, I completely agree. In fact, even if you don’t succeed in reaching your goal, if you’ve engaged your existing community along the way, many of them will form that foundation you speak of for future projects.

  6. Liza,

    Yes, it gets easier…and, as I’m sure Jamey can attest, once you succeed in your endeavors, a great by-product of the enterprise is that you have a great community, a wonderful foundation, from which to draw upon the next time around. In short, success begets, to a greater or lesser extent, success.

    As ti the work-life balance, admittedly, I’ve been better at encouraging my staff in this regard than necessarily following my own prescription.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  7. Hey Joe,

    Thanks for your comment. It is nice to know I am not alone in my experiences. Normally, I am pretty good at work/life balance, but this campaign makes it very difficult. I feel like if I am not always doing something related to hyping the campaign, then I am failing in some way. Luckily, I have an organization behind me, so I am not doing this all on my own.

    It is also good to know that running campaigns gets easier the more you do it.

    Best,
    Liza

  8. Thank you for the insight Liza. As someone who looking at launching his first campaign soon I really value these types of insights and information. Speaking of which, (and yes I’m totally about to pimp myself out right now), I was wondering if I could ask a favor from the people of comment section. I now have a rough draft of my first Kickstarter campaign ready for preview and was wondering if some of you would be willing to take a look at it and provide some feedback as to what is working and what needs improvement.
    To give you some information, this is a humble campaign…I mean Really humble….The funding goal is $1. The campaign is largely for a mixture of fun and gaining experience that I can apply to Kickstarter projects I plan to run in the distant future. Your help would be much appreciated, and please don’t hold back. If there is something I’m doing wrong, please tell me….but keep in mind that I’m running a low budget…..really low.
    Below is the link to the preview page for anyone who is interested. Thank you for your time, and have a magical day.

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/845779441/282731192?token=6c198fb6

  9. I think Liza’s comments under the heading Struggles struck a chord with me. From my first to my third Kickstarter campaign I learned a great deal about managing expectations. This would include both your own expectations on what you can conceivably do in a 16 hr period every day (No, I don’t actually sleep 8 hours like I should) and those of others.

    During my first campaign, I checked my e-mail incessantly as well…always there to immediately respond to the latest inquiry. My thought was that this type of response would be rewarded in some way…but it wasn’t. People were simply looking for answers. And truthfully, they didn’t really expect me to sit waiting for them to ask…I just THOUGHT they did.

    By the time I ran my second KS project, I had gotten a bit better about the whole managing my expectation part, though I still have trouble sleeping for 8 hours…it’s the military in me. I found myself spending several hours at a shot every night answering responses…sometimes the same ones.

    Finally, by the time I ran my third KS project, I set-up parameters and communicated when I would be available and responded to everyone who respected those parameters. If there were a few questions which seemed more and more common, they went onto the FAQ. I, too, did a happy dance every time a new Backer appeared…but moreover, I still got more excited when I had the chance to connect WITH the Backer via e-mail, phone, or Skype.

    While the Struggles are real, the Successes make it all worth it.

    Cheers,
    Joe

  10. Hey John!

    That’s great to hear. It’s been great so far, and I am looking forward to meeting more through the campaign in the final week.

  11. Thanks for sharing, Liza. The connections you make are my favorite part. I have so many new legit full-on-friends that I’ve met through our campaigns. It’s the best part.

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