Note to reader: I wrote this because many people I know want or have started crowdfunding events or campaigns, but they often don't explain the whole concept of a campaign. We hear about how including a photographer is essential to the campaign budget, but often we don't see the full impact or why... Here are the best practices that I've seen used in crowdfunding!! Enjoy these tasty tips!
Most of us know social media is a powerful tool for building movements and awareness campaigns. Authenticity and planning are the keys to bringing out its full power. Try to have a strategic plan set about three months before the launch date. This plan should identify the goals and measurements of success.
The plan might take up to six months to a year to define. In your planning group, define what that success is.
Is success more followers or subscribers, or is it a particular action you want readers to do, like donate money to an international organization focusing on women’s education in a divested community?
What are the elements of a strategic plan? In this case, it’s the vision of what you want to raise awareness for and the organization's mission. Try to define the objectives for this event or engagement, strategy, and approach. The strategy includes having an outreach/marketing plan.
Who should be part of the strategic planning? You and a couple of representatives of the organization that you want to impact and people from a local organization that you want to help. Determine the mission, and clearly define why you want to bring money or awareness to this organization and its mission. What will success look like and feel like (vision)? Will you end with a live party video? Will you end it with a sister-city proclamation? Or a simple but elegant picture slideshow? Determine your objective; this will help you eliminate if the event is only virtual or a hybrid.
The strategy needs to include an outline audience type (are they rural older folks or young gay people who like coffee shops). This process of understanding the audience should be detailed to the point of knowing their habits and demographical traits. This knowledge will help you know what your audience will relate to when writing the campaign. From this audience, look for individuals who will be your ambassadors: these individuals should have a strong following and be considered trusted leaders. Ask them ahead of time for their commitment.
Ensure you develop an “ambassador kit” so these spokespeople have all the correct links, actions, pictures, hashtags, and language for the campaign. Include launch dates and freebies like comp tickets, discount codes, and whatever they need to help them talk confidently and enthusiastically about your event or campaign.
The first step is determining your approach or how you will reach your audience. This includes the outreach campaign, a marketing budget, or a campaign. I recommend setting up the central web presence: will it be a Facebook page or a website? Will it be a YouTube live show or an invite to Zoom? Even an in-person event requires a website, landing page, or “online anchor.” This is when you execute your marketing plan, using the tactics you made in the margins of your notebook! Use radio, and print, and remember to leverage your partners' web presence; this will help you keep your marketing costs down.
Associating your campaign with a national heritage month, for instance, National Women's Month or various national months regarding health, are good leverages to put out a PSA on your local and international channels. These months occur at different times in other countries; it is critical to be mindful of that. Use the existing web presence of the designated month to be the host of your event. Even if the event is in-person, you can still generate awareness on a national scale by incorporating the web presence with captioned text or interpretation or translated text.
Now for fun! What medium will you use?
The approach of your campaign or how your campaign is celebrated should follow your targeted audience's likes. There are so many ways to do this; I encourage you to be as creative as you and your partners can be. I’ve seen art shows, symbolic envelopes, blog hops, Twitter highlights, in-person events, YouTube videos, editorials, and Zoom panel talks with a pre-show mail engagement and Facebook/Instagram post series.
From my extensive experience, I have found that if you decide to do a virtual campaign, you should add a tangible object to your most engaged or high donors or partner agencies. I have found this to be extremely helpful when creating a function or donation drive. And never underestimate the power of getting a mailer! Older communication modes (like print and radio) retain their power and can reach people through meaningful, intentional communications.
Step three ends and last-minute things to think of:
In this development of the outreach phase, you will want to include a photographer and graphic designer in your budget. Branding and having a clear message will help you be able to establish this campaign and execute it again in the future. Protip: Do not release the same date on each platform; try to layer it and release teasers, blog posts, and news articles before the campaign to welcome your audience into the idea of what you are about to do.
Do not forget to tag your partners and supporters, and organizers. Include posts and pictures that give people a behind-the-scenes look at building the campaign. Even if it’s a plate of donuts, remember that people like to see people. I know we are all camera shy, but there are ways to work around that, such as a picture of people’s hands or pictures of people not looking directly at the camera. Animated people are wonderful, but I warn you that this can be seen as not authentic.
All of the pre-work takes time, and often, on the day of the event, the day goes so fast that what stays with you are the valuable stories you hear during or after the event. That is so important to capture! Protip: have a specific and separate team to handle the details of the day of the event. These workers will take care of your AV, food, or other needs and have pre and post-meetings with them so that you can take notes on what you will need to do differently next year.
My last tip has to do with your inspiration!
Remember to have fun and keep something close to you that is special for you in this campaign. In my work, I have made posterboards, surveys, and photo collages to help me stay engaged or to come up with new ideas. It can be the logo or some pictures, but keep that on your desktop. It will help you push through when work is demanding.
Ultimately, remember that central mission. If you are centering causes for women of color or other divested populations that is a is a noble cause, understand that women of color have survived with or without your help.
They need a hand up, not a hand out from an empty well. If you understand your audience and present their true needs, accomplishments, and culture, your assistance will be felt as an authentic commitment.