Let’s say you have an idea, and you need some financing. You consider the project you have will benefit more people in the society, and it has a social aspect. You want to get people involved, to find out about your project and to make them invest in you, in the hope of your project being successful and benefiting even more people.
For example, let’s say you invent a cool gadget for mobile phones, you have all the basic details setup, you know how the end product will look like, but you need money to produce it and distribute it. You call for help on the Internet, you write a project and you plan to post it online (hint – 6 Top Crowdfunding Websites: Which One Is Right For Your Project? – Forbes).
How will you promote this?
- My first thought is for you to have a very clear idea of the project, what it is and how it will benefit a group of people. You need to understand both their needs (what your target group needs from you), and yours. also (what you need from them).
- You need to be passionate about the idea, to have an enthusiasm and be willing to walk the talk.
- When you make a request for an investment, show me who you are, as a person / group of persons. Present yourself. Tell me something about your studies, about your work experience, and something atypical about you (some thing which is a bit strange and interesting, at the same time). More on “About us” and “Being real“.
- You need to offer a valid reasoning for the project. This means both something clearly rational (“This needs to be done because there’s a need on the market”) and something emotional (“My personal reason for doing this is”).
- The most important reason people will donate for your project is their feeling that they contribute to the world, that they make the world better. Work on this. Tell them how you will communicate with your donors in the various stages of the project. Tell them how will they know that they made the world better. Tell them how exactly they will see that they contributed to the world. (examples – newsletters / blog / annual reports / photo coverage / case studies / testimonials / handwritten note)
- Tell me a story. Pick a single beneficiary of your project and tell me that person’s story. Give me a name (even if fictional, and tell me about the impact in that person’s life with this project).
- Tell me about all the beneficiaries of the project. Sometimes, there are direct beneficiaries, sometimes the beneficiaries are indirect. For example, by helping some children with education, the impact can be very powerful. Tell me about second-tier beneficiaries.
- You should answer to the fears your donors might have. People are worried for a lot of people when donating. How will the money be spent. What happens if you lose your enthusiasm? How prepared are you for a tough market? And so on. Answer to those.
- Create new fears. Like the fear that if the project will not be done now, opportunities will be missed.
- Show me what you’ve done so far, professionally. You certainly have accomplished something in your professional life, related to the subject (as close as it can be). Tell me more about this.
- Show me what you’ve done so far, with this specific project. You certainly have done a few steps in starting the project. Tell me about them.
- Tell me how will the project develop. What’s the next step?
- Use videos, or, at least, some photos. Images are great for persuasion.
- Find out the people interested about your story. It’s easier to persuade people who have already invested in similar projects. Find out who those people are and talk to them.
- Be different and ordinary, at the same time. Your project, your personality, your communication, your project execution. In all of these you need to have something different than the other players on the market, and, at the same time, provide some similar patterns, a “hook” for the audience to relate on. You need to invent, but not so much. More on this.
- Get others to help you promote your idea and invest in you. You have friends who can support, you have a family who believes in you. Ask for help. It’s easier to donate to a project who at least has some support, in both sharing and money donated.
- Your request for financing should always have a call to action (either “Donate” or “Spread the news”), and a clear advantage for the reader (“You should support me, because, by doing so, you will …”). When stating the advantage for the reader, try to make it as specific as possible.
- Your pitch should have both a VSP (Value Selling Proposition, something which you offer and others offer also; in the example above, with the gadget for mobile phones, there are surely other gadgets improving the day-to-day usage of mobile phones; example – “you can do more with your phone, like you can do with other phone gadgets, also” / “you’ll discover new uses for your phone, like other phone gadgets also do”) and USP (Unique Selling Proposition, something which is specific just for your project; example “with this gadget and with this only, the following happens: “).
- You need to answer to comments quickly, you need to engage in conversations online, you need to knock on doors. The message will not sell itself, you need to put some effort into spreading the message to people who are interested in it.
A related article: So, you want to help people. You’ve got an NGO. What’s next?: Olivian Breda.
Final note: I post things related to NGOs here: ONG in Romania – Yahoo Groups.
2016.02.11, update: SAPTE SERI – Articol – POVESTEA Lampsterului.
2017.05.17, update: VIDEO Ce sa faci si ce sa nu faci cand strangi bani pe internet. O americanca, doctor in strangere de fonduri, ne-a vorbit despre crowdfunding in Romania – HowTo – StartupCafe.ro.