Planning Your First Campaign

Crowdfunding is both an art and a science. For every high-profile campaign that goes viral because of an emotive video or novelty appeal, hundreds of other campaigns reach their fundraising goals online simply by executing a well-made plan.  
 
Follow these steps to get your first campaign on track. For best results, we recommend you start between six to eight weeks ahead of the chosen start date for your campaign, but many organizations put together campaigns in the space of a week or two, and some take several months of preparation. This will depend on your staff's capacity to dedicate time to the campaign, and also on the magnitude of the campaign you are planning. If you are just trying to raise a few thousand dollars, you will probably require much less preparation time than if you are trying to raise $30,000.

1. Define your goals.

Ask yourself: what problem are you trying to solve? How will this project make a tangible difference? And most, importantly, why should others care? Crowdfunding works well for tangible projects that require one-off funding, or in which the impact can be clearly seen in a particular group of people.  
 
Once you are clear about what project you want to carry out and why (your impact goal), establish how much money you need to carry it out (your financial goal). Be realistic! Most projects on HIPGive have goals that range from $3,000 to $15,000, but your choice should be in line with your fundraising capacity. If you’re not sure, do the math: assuming an average donation of $70 (for example), a campaign to raise $5,000 would need approximately 70 donors. Does your organization have the resources and reach to attract 70 or more donors? If you conclude your chances are good, it’s time to move forward. If it is your first time crowdfunding, consider starting small—it’s better to exceed a modest goal than to struggle with the weight of an overly ambitious objective. 

2. Frame your project.

Crowdfunding is a very specific way of raising funds, which relies on inspiring individual donors to contribute their hard-earned cash. Once you have a clear goal that makes sense for your organization, it’s important to sharpen that goal and frame it in a way that makes it most attractive to individuals. Your project shouldn’t only appear important, it needs to generate an emotion too; by inspiring hope, compassion, or a sense of agency in which each donation counts, you can compel people to click on “Give Now.”
 
One of the easiest ways to make your project more attractive is to think about headline design—is the title of your project attention grabbing, actionable, or shareable? For example, when Terra Peninsular wanted to raise funds to support the conservation of San Quintin Bay in Baja California, they chose to focus on the human side of the story. “Cuidando la casa” ("Caring for the home") is a catchy title and shows the organization working alongside members of the local community to care for their home. Similarly, Ayuda a Corazón de Niño could have called their project “help sick children,” but instead they invited donors to “Help Keep our Children’s Heart Beating.” Browse other successful projects and decide what factors help make a project attractive to donors.

3. Create your project.

Setting up your project on HIPGive is as easy as clicking “Create” and following the simple steps to fill in the form and upload the materials you need to complete the online profile for your project. HIPGive is a rich platform in terms of content, so you can include narrative, photos, video, information about team members, and perks for donors. You don’t have to create your project in one sitting—you can save your progress and come back to edit later once you have all the materials ready. If you need inspiration, browse other projects and decide what you think works best. For more guidance, consult Creating your project on HIPGive: step by step guide.

4. Set up your communications strategy.

The single most important factor in your ability to meet your crowdfunding goal is your ability to run a strong communications campaign in which your request for support reaches as large an audience as possible. As in any communications strategy, the key questions are who, what, how, and when?
  • WHO do you want to invite to donate? (Your audience)  
  • WHAT should you say to them to encourage them to donate? (Your message)
  • HOW should you communicate with them in order to get their attention? (Your channels)
  • WHEN and HOW OFTEN should you communicate?
Learn more about Creating a Strong Communications Strategy here.

5. Get your team ready.

Crowdfunding is a collaborative undertaking and although your campaign will need a committed leader, the more people within your organization who share the workload the better. Here are a few key roles:
  • Campaign coordinator—the person who will lead the campaign from planning to execution to evaluation. It should be someone who is passionate and organized, and inspires other people to come on board.
  • Communications support. Video, photos, beneficiary stories, and letters from the President can all be included in professionally-designed donor emails and social media posts, so make sure you line up the right staff to help create appealing content.
  • Board members and senior leadership, who should be actively involved in promoting your project throughout the campaign to their own networks and contacts. Make it easy for them by explaining the rationale of the campaign beforehand and providing sample emails and social media posts that they can personalize and share. 
  • Donor outreach support. While general email campaigns and social media posts can help boost a campaign, nothing is more effective than one-on-one outreach via personalized emails, messages, and phone calls. The more people you have talking to potential donors, the better. 
Learn more about Building a Strong Team for your Campaign.

6. Promote, fundraise, repeat.

Once your project has gone “live” on the HIPGive platform you can’t just sit back and expect the donations to flow in—you’ve got to make the ask. Now is the time to execute your communications strategy and open the floodgates of communication. 
 
We recommend you use an editorial calendar to coordinate your communications schedule and make sure that emails, social media posts, messaging drives, and phone calls are made in an organized manner at key moments in the campaign and with up-to-date information. 
 
It’s also useful to have someone monitor social media and inbound contacts even more closely than usual to reply to questions, engage in conversations, and generally motivate people to donate. You can use the Update section on your HIPGive project page to share milestones that you’ve reached with donors and you can download your Funders’ List at any time to contact donors by email and thank them as soon as possible for their contribution.

7. Celebrate

After the campaign has finished, don’t forget to share the results across your communication channels.  Even if you didn’t reach your target, celebrate the donations that you did receive and explain the way the funds will be put to good use. Help your donors experience that warm “feel-good” glow that comes from having contributed to something meaningful and they’ll be happy to return in a future campaign. If you want to send individual thank-you's or follow up on perks that you’re committed to, you can download the Funders’ List from your project dashboard.

8. Learn

Crowdfunding is here to stay, so it’s likely this won’t be your last campaign. Set yourself up for future success by identifying successes and also learning points from this campaign. A brief team meeting is often the best way: the campaign coordinator can present the numbers but everyone can help brainstorm what worked and what didn’t. Maybe you didn’t reach the goal, but you gained new donors, new social media strategies, and have ideas of how to improve on your strategies. Write it down and you’ll be able to coordinate even larger crowdfunding campaigns in the future.
 
 
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