[Podcast] – Episode 1: Home STREAT Home

In our first podcast series at Chuffed.org, we’re looking at social enterprise, STREAT’s first crowdfunding campaign, where they took a $4,000 donation, made it into an $80,000 campaign and built a $160,000 cafe. As this is our first go at podcasts, we’d love your feedback in the Facebook comments below. Enjoy!


TRANSCRIPT

Rebecca: This woman came to us really, really early. I think it was 2011. She just popped up in the middle of nowhere. She was doing her own cookbook. It was on different cafés and restaurants that were in Melbourne. It was called Flavours of Melbourne. And she saw our little food cart at Federation Square and she said, “I’d really like to feature you guys in there and put just a little forward to you and telling people about who you are.” So, even though her cookbook was featuring all these really high end restaurants and cafés, she put this story about us in that cookbook and then did a fundraiser for us at the launch of that cookbook. And that fundraiser raised $4,000. So, at the end of it, she came to me and said, “I’ve got $4,000 for you. It would be fantastic if we could make that money stretch even further. Imagine if we worked with you now to make your own cookbook. Because then, if you made your own cookbook, we could turn that $4,000 into lots more than that.”

So, the $4,000 in producing a cookbook doesn’t go very far. It’s a really expensive process. So yes, she was going to use it against the printing costs but we still had to come up with tens of thousands of dollars which we just didn’t have.

Prashan: For most of us, the idea of turning $4,000 into tens of thousands of dollars in the space of a few months sounds impossible. But when you’re on a mission, like Bec Scott was – what’s possible doesn’t really come into play. Today, the story of how Bec and her team turned that $4,000 into not ten, not twenty but eighty, thousand dollars – and how they created one of Australia’s most loved cafes in the process. I’m Prashan Paramanathan. This is our first podcast at Chuffed.org. Stay tuned.

In the early 2000s, Bec Scott found herself in Hanoi, Vietnam. She sat down at a café and ordered a quintessential Vietnamese dish – rice paper rolls with tamarind sauce. And as she waited for her rice paper rolls to come out, she noticed a postcard on her table about the café. Now most cafes find creative ways of describing themselves but this one used a phrase that Bec hadn’t really come across before – remember this is early 2000s – the café described itself as a ‘social enterprise’ working with homeless young people.

The next time the waiter came by, Bec struck up a conversation. The café she was in was called KOTO – an acronym for ‘Know One Teach One’  – and was founded by a Vietnamese-Australian, Jimmy Pham. Jimmy grew up in Australia but returned to his native Vietnam for the first time as a 24 year old. He was struck by the thousands of street kids – the ‘dust of life’  in Vietnamese – and like many of us, he wanted to do something to help. Instead of building an orphanage or starting a charity, Jimmy did something else – he asked the kids what they wanted out of life. Their reply – ‘we need skills so we can find stable jobs’.  So Jimmy started up what ended up as KOTO – a hospitality training program, housed inside a café/restaurant – where street kids could get trained in hospitality skills, work in the café and then graduate into a hospitality career.

As Bec was eating her rice paper rolls, the power of the model struck her – her rolls were training up a street kid and getting them out of poverty.

In 2004, Bec spent two years volunteering at that café in Vietnam – KOTO with her partner Kate Barelle. And then, in 2009, Bec and Kate landed in Melbourne Australia, took what they had learnt from KOTO, merged it with their love of South-East Asian hawker food and started STREAT.

It was humble beginnings back then – they just had two little coffee carts in Melbourne’s Federation Square. Actually, maybe ‘little’s the wrong word to use.

Ian: We had Coffee carts, so big stainless steel barbecues, basically, that were supposed to be mobile, but would take four guys or a truck to really shift.

Prashan: That’s Ian, who runs STREAT’s marketing team.

Prashan: So two ‘big’ coffee carts. Plonked out in the middle of an open square.  In the sun. In the rain. Fun times. After 6 months of that– a property group, GPT, offered STREAT an indoor location for another cart – in Melbourne Central. And they jumped at it. It was 2011, and STREAT was hitting a growth spurt. Then, in 2012, STREAT doubled in size, almost overnight. In one of Australia’s first social enterprise on social enterprise acquisition, STREAT bought two cafes and a roasting company. But that was just the start of it.

Rebecca: We, at that stage, had just moved beyond having two little food carts. And we’d just done an acquisition of a couple of bigger businesses. But we were still quite fledgling. We knew that we wanted to grow some more and we had, essentially, one of our landlords at one of our sites come and say to us, “You’ve been here on month-to-month lease since 2010. Please, we’d love you to sign up to a five-year lease.” But we just had no cash in the bank. We’ve never had any cash in the bank since we started, and so it wasn’t like we could just go, “Right, we need a couple hundred thousand dollars.” We just re-developed a site. We knew that we were going to need some extra money to be able to make that possible.

Prashan: The landlord that Bec’s talking about was the same one that had got them out of the sun and rain at Federation Square. Their indoor cart at Melbourne Central had gone well – their landlord was happy and wanted them to upgrade.  Instead of renting a space for their temporary cart, why didn’t they sign up for 5-years and build a café?

So it’s now early 2012, they want to start up this new café, they want to publish a cookbook, and they have $4,000 to do both.

You know that point in a story where someone makes an offhand comment, that changes everything – well, that happened.

One of STREAT’s early investors, Danny Almagor floated the idea of ‘trying crowdfunding’.

Rebecca: And I think he said it kind of as a throw-away line, and said, “Oh, well, if you decide to do one, we’ll chip in a little bit.” And I’d never really considered it before then but it made sense. It felt like we had written a lot of grant applications and it wasn’t like it felt like there was new grant money available. But the other thing is, as well, is that to get grant money takes a long lead time normally. We can wait up to six or nine months before submitting a grant application and then knowing at the other end if you’ve got the money. We just didn’t have the lead time on some of that stuff that we wanted. Yeah, we just started to think really creatively, and the more I thought about it, it just kind of made sense.

Ian: And Rebecca and I had a look, and thought, “Okay, maybe we could do something and try and raise five or 10,000.” Then I looked at it, I thought, “Wow, there’s a lot of work in that.” You really to have to run the campaign actively, day in, day out, for the campaign period. And I said to her, “Look, if we’re going to do this, I’m not going to do it unless we’re trying to raise 20 or 40 grand, or something like that.”

Prashan: So they had a target. Now they just needed a campaign for it. Should they go for funding for the cookbook? Or should they try and fund the café? Bec and Ian’s approach was of course: I wonder if we could do both?

Ian:  So I came up with this campaign, that basically, “How do we turn a cookbook into a café?” And that was essentially the one-liner that captures our crowdfunding campaign: “How do we turn this cookbook into a café?” At that stage, we didn’t have a cookbook, nor did we sort of have a café.

Prashan: the idea was pretty simple. Sell the cookbooks on a crowdfunding campaign and use the proceeds to fund the café.  That way, they get a cookbook and they get a café.

It was their first campaign, and they weren’t going to leave anything to chance. $40,000 is a big target. And they were running an all-or-nothing campaign. If they didn’t hit that $40,000, they’d get nothing. So instead of waiting until the campaign started, Ian did something that at first seems a little sneaky, but actually is really smart.

Ian: I wasn’t going to do it unless I knew I was really going to get to the 40,000. So I pre-sold 700 or 800 cookbooks to a number of corporates to underwrite the campaign. Basically, I had 20 or $25,000 worth of orders of cookbooks that I could feed into the crowdfunding campaign to make sure we got to our $40,000 target.

Prashan: What did that conversation go like?

Ian: The conversation with the corporates?

Prashan: Yeah.

Ian: It’s like selling something you don’t have. So imagine that this is a cookbook in my hand Prashan, and your Chuffed logo is going to be on the front and your page about Chuffed is going to be on the inside. And, it’ll have Poe, and it will have recipes from our students but essentially I had a few PDF pictures of some recipes but that’s about all.

Prashan: The cookbooks that Ian was preselling weren’t just ordinary copies that you could get off the shelf. Ian had a very specific use in mind.

Ian: I designed them as a corporate Christmas gift. So if you were Westpac, or Red Cat, or Small Giants, or GPT, it was the perfect Christmas gift. They are actually real partners with STREAT, so then it’s very easy for them, and it’s very correct and true for them to give that book to one of their staff, customers, clients, and say well we support STREAT, and these are our Christmas gifts to you.

Prashan: With twenty- to twenty five grand under their belt, the task seemed more manageable, but STREAT had one more trick up their sleeve.

During the conversations with their landlord, GPT – the one that was trying to encourage them to sign up to a 5 year lease – Bec had managed to negotiate a little sweetener. I asked Bec to describe what that meeting was like:

Rebecca: So, what we were doing is sitting down as two partners, rather than sitting down as just a landlord and a tenant. They were wanting to make the relationship deeper because they already knew that we were adding a huge amount of value to their business.

So, we could have the conversation and say, “Well, what else are we bringing to the relationship? This is not just a lease agreement. If you are asking us to sign up for five years here, what are we doing together?

Prashan: GPT’s response? You know that crowdfunding campaign you’re running – if you hit your $40,000 target, we’ll give you another $40,000. That’s $80,000. Enough to get their café. Now all they needed to do was to sell enough cookbooks.

Now – we’ve run thousands of campaigns on Chuffed.org – and $40,000 is a big target in Australia. Go back a few years, when crowdfunding wasn’t really a thing – and $40,000 in social cause land was unheard of.

Plus, STREAT were running an All-or-Nothing campaign, which meant if they didn’t hit that $40,000 target, they’d get nothing. No money. No cookbook. No café.

So they originally had the idea for the campaign in mid 2012, they spent all of July and August getting all the recipes and photos and creating the cookbook. And on the 30th August 2012, they switched on their campaign. After all this prep, I asked Bec what Day 1 was like:

Rebecca: Yeah, it was quite nerve-wracking actually because we’d decided to go for a three-month campaign. And that’s a long time. Like that’s a really, really long amount of time to sustain a sense of immediacy and urgency. And what we knew is that you don’t just kind of launch and then kind of cross your fingers. That you’ve really got to be feeding the campaign, you got to give it content. You got to be saying thank you to people. You got to keep a momentum. And that momentum, it’s easy to watch a campaign and assume that somehow it just starts fuelling itself along the way but you’ve got to keep fuelling that fire as well. So I remember the amount of work that we were doing on social media or things just to keep it going. I remember having a shot at trying to get some celebrities involved by tweeting them and saying, “Hey, such and such. Have you heard about this? Can you re-tweet it?” But we didn’t get any of those celebrity endorsements stuff. I think at the time, from memory, I even tried some, I think actually Kevin Rudd was really big and being the social media hussy that he always was.

Rebecca: So like imagine if we could get Kevin Rudd to support it? But that never materialized so we certainly wouldn’t have built a campaign around the hope of that, even though we were holding at right to the end, thinking that someone might, some big celeb might get it. But we’d done a lot of pre-work to just try and make sure that it can get to that $40,000.

Prashan: Despite the social media hussies not getting on board, STREAT were doing ok by the middle of the campaign, but they were by no means home.

Rebecca: I still remember being weeks out, and thinking, “Holy crap, I hope we make it.” Even with that pre-work, we were still working hard to the end.

Prashan: And then, that magical day. The day they got to 40,000.

Rebecca: Oh, my god. So it wasn’t far from the end of the campaign and I just remember the immense relief like, “Oh, my god. I was relieved.” And I remember writing an email out straight away to everyone. Just everyone that we’d ever spoken to before and everyone on our database, and just thanking them, and saying, “We’ve done it.” There were a lot of office high five-ing. Yeah, it was a really good feeling. But then we just had to get on and build the damn site. So the campaign may have been successful, but then, all the hard work of actually building the site was starting. So it really was just chapter one of what was going to be a couple of the other big chapters as well.

Prashan: That campaign was now over three years ago – and in many ways it set the precedent that every social enterprise crowdfunding campaign would follow. It’s now completely normal to use a campaign to pre-sell product to pay for your setup cost – it’s what nearly every social enterprise crowdfunding campaign does. But being at the forefront of anything is tiring. I was curious, now that it had been three years, what Bec had took from  the whole experience? Did the highs and lows of the campaign turn her off crowdfunding?

Rebecca: As the chief fund raiser for the organization, I think I’ve got a pretty acute understanding of how hard it is to get every dollar. And so, it wasn’t like we got to the end and I thought, “Geez, let’s do heaps more of them and because they’re a lot of work.” But, so is selling a million coffees to make money, so is writing masses and masses of grant applications. So, what it probably did is just give me in my little tool belt of understanding of how different types of capital work, it just gave me another little tool in that tool belt to understand, “Oh, so that’s how that type of money behaves.” All the things that you’ve got to do to get that, to make something like that work.

Rebecca:. The other thing that was really positive though about it was, I think I had underestimated how much a crowdfunding campaign could give you visibility as an organization. So, it wasn’t just about the dollars that were coming at the other end. What you were doing is, you were creating a story and an energy around your organization. So I think, what happened is not only did we end up at the end with a new café, but they were a whole bunch of people who, even if they didn’t donate to the campaign, because we got some really good media about it, they saw us. They heard about us. And if you’re thinking about the average person is probably going to need to hear about you five to seven times before they actually open their wallets. It’s one more of those times that might be the first time they hear it but they’re hearing it in a way that’s got lots of energy around it. So for me, it’s about getting the story really clear, but knowing that there’s a lot of people that are going to see it that I aren’t going to support it, but they are just part of planting seeds. All of them may, over time, become supporters. They’re invisible now to you, but if you know that you got to keep planting a lot of seeds for any of those people to start to convert. Well, then, this is a really big way you can do that. The other thing is too that crowdfunding does. What it does is, it potentially starts to build a customer-base that might not have been there. So in our case, people that only ever had food with us they now had a cookbook that was going to sit on their shelves. All of our food’s got a very short shelf life but the thing that we were creating had a really long shelf life. So, I’m interested when I go in to places. I’ve been into people’s homes and seen our STREAT cookbook on their bookshelf, that’s all stuff that’s just there and visible. And I think about once again, it’s just about planting seeds, that it’s about creating an overall awareness of your organization in the campaign. A campaign can equally do that as it can bring about some funding, as well.

– FIN –

3 Top Tips from Edgar’s Mission’s $162,458 Crowfunding Campaign

In 2014, a small sanctuary for rescued farm animals in country Australia – Edgar’s Mission – launched a record breaking crowdfunding campaign raising $162,458 – their original target was $50,000. Together with the Edgar’s Mission team, we dissected what made their campaign successful and what you can do to replicate their success. These are our top three tips:

 

1. Build your online audience, before your campaign

If you like Edgar’s Mission’s Facebook page, it will become very clear, very quickly why people have such a strong emotional bond with them. Instead of taking the usual path of animal welfare organisations – focusing on the negative, shocking imagery of people mistreating animals – Edgar’s has taken a different tact. They focus on the positive stories of the animals that they clearly love. Their posts are personal, beautiful and uplifting.

This strategy has paid off as they’ve created a social media presence, where people enjoy interacting with them, which has allowed them to build up a sizeable, engaged audience. This audience, whether it’s on Facebook, email or Twitter can make the difference between a successful campaign or one that goes nowhere.

Also, it doesn’t necessarily take a few years to do this – and you don’t need cute animal pictures. The important thing is to focus on content that people enjoy, rather than on what you want to tell them.

2. Choose the right project and market test ideas with potential donors

Like for most public fundraising, discreet, exciting, new projects work best for crowdfunding. The key in choosing the right project is to think about the audience that already loves you, and figure out what project will get them excited enough to tell their friends – in the online and offline world. If you can’t imagine one of your supporters excitedly telling one of their friends about it over dinner, it’s probably not the right framing of your project.

The other key thing that Edgar’s did was to test their ideas with potential supporters. This process ensures that you do create something that your supporters will enjoy and often results in creating some of your best advocates for your campaign.

3. Give, don’t take

What’s clear in everything that Edgar’s communicated to their donors was that they loved what they do and wanted to share some of that with their donors.

Rather than seeing the process as fundraising first, then reporting back later, Edgar’s continuously involved their audience with what can only be described as beautiful content – including photos, videos and stories of their residents, first-person narratives about what’s happening on the farm and their raw reactions to the support that their donors provided.

This continuous process of giving value to their audience, transformed the campaign from being about them needing something to being about them wanting to share something with people that they knew would enjoy it. The fundraising wasn’t merely ‘asking’ , it was a true ‘value-exchange’.

What’s clear from the comments on their Chuffed.org page was that their donors got as much, if not more, out of the experience of the campaign as Edgar’s did.

“Edgar’s Mission is one of the best programs I am aware of on this planet. They have influenced my life for the better and have given me much peace knowing they exist.”

– Deborah, a donor to the campaign 24/05/2014


Now Here’s The Full Story

 

Background

In 2003, Pam Ahern started up Edgar’s Mission, a not-for-profit sanctuary for rescued farmed animals located 70 km outside of Melbourne in Willowmavin, Victoria. Over the next decade, more and more animals found a home at Edgar’s until in 2013, it became clear that the 300 plus residents needed more space.

It was time to move.

Over the course of 2013, we searched out a new, bigger home and we also began our fundraising campaign. In April 2013, we launched our ‘Kindness Challenge’ – a community fundraising appeal where we asked our supporters and volunteers to fundraise on our behalf to support us to buy the new farm. These community fundraisers ended up raising about $150,000 – a good start in purchasing the farm, but not enough to fit it out.

By February 2014, we were able to enter into negotiations to purchase what would become the new Edgar’s Mission. At that point, we decided to change our fundraising strategy, to really involve people in the exciting part of the move. Our fundraising objective was clear – to raise funds to start setting up the infrastructure for the sanctuary to start moving the residents over as soon as possible. In addition we wanted to increase our donor base to help with the costs of running a new and larger sanctuary to make it financially sustainable in the longer term.

This was when we started thinking about crowdfunding.

1. The History – building up an online audience

Over the last 2 years, we had made a deliberate investment in building up our social media audience.

Our approach to Facebook was quite simple – try several different types of posts and see what worked. We told the animals’ stories; tried competitions; had theme days like #ThankGoatItsFriday and slowly did more of what people liked and enjoyed and less of what they didn’t.

The key for us was to keep it positive, not focusing on the pain, agony and mistreatment of the animals but on the joy, hope and fun that they brought to everyone. This approach applied with concerted, consistent effort started to pay dividends.

At the start of 2012, we had 5,500 likes on our Facebook page. By the start of 2013, that had leapt to 16,500. By the start of 2014, we were at 41,000 and by mid-2014, we were over 80,000. This audience – plus the email database we had started to build – would be the keys to our crowdfunding success.

2. Why crowdfunding and how we constructed our campaign

While there are more traditional ways to raise funds for capital projects, we decided on crowdfunding as it was the best way to raise funds quickly as well as actively involve our donors. Other ways of fundraising were very mono-directional, but crowdfunding allowed us to have an intimate relationship with our supporters during and after our campaign.

Our first choice was to decide which crowdfunding platform to go with. After looking at different crowdfunding platforms we decided to go with Chuffed.org because they were a social enterprise that was set up to run and assist non profits to fundraise.  There were no fees and credit card costs were the smallest compared to other platforms.

In terms of the design of our campaign:

  • We decided on a 60 day campaign, which is slightly longer than the average campaign length of 30-40 days, as we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time in case things didn’t go to plan
  • We wanted to use perks as a way to allow our supporters to participate in the new Edgar’s. In order to design perks that people would actually want, we held a meeting with 10 core volunteers to expand on our ideas for the campaign as well as perk ideas. We grouped individual ideas by theme then selected a specific number and matched them with perk values. This was extremely beneficial as many of the perk ideas stemmed from this meeting and a number of this group donated significant amounts early on in the campaign.
  • We were fortunate that one of our staff members, Kyle, was able to film and edit a campaign video which used our Founder, Pam, to tell the story of the campaign. We used video updates as a simple way to help connect our supporters up with our team and the campaign.
  • We decided on a ‘Keep what you raise’ style of campaign, rather than an ‘All or nothing’ campaign as we didn’t know how well we would do at that stage.

 

An example of a perk:

Edgar's Mission Perk

3. Launching and what do to do when things don’t go to plan

To make sure we were prepared, we had mapped out a rough timeline of different photos, videos and stories we could share to keep the campaign momentum alive but this plan had to change quite quickly as things didn’t quite go to plan.

On the morning of 26th March, we launched our campaign by sending out an email to our supporters with a link to the video and the campaign and later in the afternoon, posting on Facebook.

The response was astronomical. In the space of 3 days, 272 supporters contributed to our campaign, and we hit our initial target of $50,000, 57 days ahead of schedule. We were faced with one of those problems that fundraisers love to have – what do we do now?

Talking to the Chuffed.org team, we decided to set a new stretch target of $100,000 but were conscious to explain to supporters explicitly what the extra funds would allow us to do. We framed the stretch goal as allowing us to build the Edgar’s Mission that we dreamed of and that the animals deserved, which included building a goat mountain, an animal hospital and a magical duck pond.

4. Keeping momentum going

When we hit our first target, we sent out a second email thanking everyone for the amazing response. This email and the subsequent celebratory Facebook post spurred another wave of donations. By the end of our first week we had raised $66,000.

At this point, we decided to lie low for the middle of the campaign and push all our content in the last 2 weeks, instead of evenly pacing it out. The reason for that was that the momentum of crowdfunding campaigns is such that most donations come in the first 10 days and the last 10 days, so it made more sense to concentrate our effort and the break gave our supporters some breathing space from receiving campaign-specific content.

During the last 2 weeks of the campaign we launched a video of Edgar’s Mission Ambassador and Australian Cricketer Peter Siddle with his partner Anna Weatherlake at Edgar’s Mission promoting the crowdfunding campaign and in the last week of the campaign we launched the Polly Pig $10 Facebook challenge.

We have a very active Facebook page with many people following our animals stories and we wanted to give people an opportunity be part of the new sanctuary knowing that not everyone had the funds to sponsor a fence ($1000) or a shelter ($2500) – two of our high-value, highly-sought-after perks.

The Polly Pig $10 challenge was a Facebook-only offer, so that for a donation of $10 your name would be listed on a plaque on a structure at the farm. The more money that was raised (in total) the bigger the structure that would be sponsored. In the space of a few days, 438 people donated $10 and the renewed momentum prompted many higher value donations as well.

By the 14th May, 49 days into our 60 day campaign, we crossed the $100,000 mark. At this point, we decided against increasing our target again, as we thought it would lead to confusing messaging to our supporters.

Edgar's Mission Crowdfunding Campaign

The last few days were very exciting as we passed $150,000 and finished with a grand total of $162,458 with 1,787 supporters from over 14 countries making this the largest Australian non-profit crowdfunding campaign on any major platform, as far as we can tell.

What’s even better, nearly half of those who donated were first time donors to Edgar’s Mission.


Key Campaign Statistics

  • Total raised: $162,458
  • Number of donations: 1,787
  • Number of new donors: 800
  • Number of countries that donors came from: 14
  • Average donation size: $91
  • Largest single donation: $10,000

 

How Crowdfunding Saved The Sawtell Cinema

In July 2015, a small community group in regional Australia raised over $142,500 to save their local cinema. In this case study, campaign manager, Stephanie Ney, takes you through:

  • How they designed their ‘sponsor a seat’ campaign
  • How they used Facebook and networking to build a launch list
  • How they leverage offline channels for their online campaign

 

Background: The end of an era and a new hope

Seventy-Four years ago in a small town on Australia’s east coast, Doris and Alan Brissett purchased the local Community Hall with a grand plan to create the town’s first cinema. They added some wooden tiered seating, a projection room and the Sawtell Cinema was born. For three generations the Sawtell Cinema remained in the Brissett Family.

In that time, the cinema has faced many disasters. In 1955 the original building was destroyed by a mini-cyclone. In 1989 and again in 2009, floods damaged the cinema. Each time, the community stepped forward to support their local icon. But then digital projection arrived, and the cost to switch over was too much. The Brissett family put the cinema on the market in March 2012 and when no buyer came forward, in December 2012, the cinema closed.

Sawtell Cinema - the original building

For two years Sawtell Cinema waited for the community to show their support yet again. In January 2015, a group of local patrons stepped forward and purchased the original building with a grand plan to transform it into a 21st century cinema, but retain its quaint, historic feel.

The refurbishment would cost $1.4M. While most of that was raised privately, the patrons wanted to find a way to involve the local community in the saving of the cinema and to help them feel like they, too, were part of history-making.

They decided to run a crowdfunding campaign. In just over two months, the Sawtell Cinema blasted through its initial $75,000 target and ended up raising $142,500.

What follows is a step by step account of what they did, told by Stephanie Ney, who ran the campaign with Stephanie Hunt.

 

Preparation: Setting the stage

We started preparing for the campaign in January 2015, with the aim to do a soft launch of the campaign in June and an official event-based launch on 4 July.

The right campaign

The first step for the team was deciding what type of campaign we’d run. While we could have run a “capital appeal” type of campaign, and gone after pure donations, we found in our research, that the successful theatres/cinema campaigns used a ‘name a seat’ type program. For $X, donors got the perk of naming rights or sponsorship of a seat.

We wanted the perks to acknowledge people’s contribution and make them feel like they owned a part of their local cinema. As a bonus, we also designed rewards as a way to get the word out (through bumper stickers/t-shirts) and to get people into the cinema once it re-opened.

The Sawtell Cinema rewards and perks

Here’s what we chose:

  • $25: Join the “I Saved Sawtell Cinema” fraternity with the bumper sticker/choc top reward – redeemable when cinema re-opened;
  • $75: A t-shirt package, so people could see you were a supporter;
  • $150: double tickets to a screening at the cinema with David Stratton;
  • $500: A ‘name a seat’ plaque in the big cinema;
  • $750: A ‘name a seat’ plaque in boutique cinema;
  • $1,000: Dinner for two plus movie screening with David Stratton;
  • $2,500: Your silhouette painted onto the cinema’s ‘wall of fame’;
  • $5,000: A private screening/party for 40 of your closest friends in boutique cinema.

In addition, everyone who donated above $500 also got their name on the Honour Board in the foyer, under exclusive headings such as ‘A-listers’, ‘Directors’, ‘Cameos’, ‘Executive Producers’, ‘Producers’, ‘Patrons’.

A celebrity ambassador

One of our favourite ‘name a seat’ campaigns was for the Isaac Theatre in Christchurch, which had Sir Ian McKillen as its patron. We wanted our own, local patron.

Through an Armidale contact, we had a connection to David Stratton, and approached him to be the campaign Patron and he generously agreed. We leveraged David everywhere – he was the centrepiece of the video and he was in our perks. This not only helped broaden our media appeal, it helped with branding of what Sawtell Cinema is all about; regional, independent, quality films, and a community’s cinema.

The video

No crowdfunding campaign would be complete without an awesome crowdfunding video and we were lucky enough to have some seriously creative locals (Zakpage.com) film not just one, but a series of videos that showed how ‘cinema is part of everyday life’ featuring locals and our campaign patron, David Stratton

We released the primary 90 second video on Facebook in the lead up to the campaign and a new video each week of the campaign. We got Screenwave – an outdoor cinema company – to show 30 second versions before their Cinematinee screenings and we put up a longer 4-minute version on our website. Having locals star in the videos turned out to be just as important as having a celebrity – not only does everyone want to share a video that has them or someone they know in it, the video created a sense of pride and community.

Building a list

When we first started planning, we read How to Raise $15,000 in 50 hours by Rob Caslick which is a great starting point. It emphasised the importance of names and lists and developing an ‘inner circle’ of people to champion the campaign with you.

This is what we did to establish a list. We set up a Mailchimp account and decided that we’d focus on growing that database.

The first natural list of supporters to leverage was the old ‘Friends of Sawtell Cinema’, a group of passionate locals who banded together back in 2009 when the cinema flooded. Through the ex-President of the campaign, we contacted the 300 people on the list and invited them to join our mailing list (by clicking through on the email).

Other groups had formed since the gap was left in the marketplace when Sawtell Cinema closed, like the Coffs Harbour City Council who ran Coffs Movie Club and Screenwave, who were running fortnightly ‘Cinematinee’ screenings at the local theatre. We promoted our campaign to these groups, and they were issued with invitations to join our mailing list and be kept up to date with all the latest on Sawtell Cinema.

Next, we started a Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/savesawtellcinema. We were planning to keep it on the down low until we had prepared our database/mailing system, but it accidentally got shared and within 3 days we had over 3,000 likes.

We then had to convert the Facebook audience to our email list which we did by posting links to our email signup page regularly on Facebook. This is important because it’s a lot easier to miss a Facebook post than it is to miss an email.

We quickly set up our website at www.sawtellcinema.com.au and again, put more links there to join the mailing list. We also directed people to our website via Faceboook in its first couple of months.

Stars

At the same time, we developed our own ‘Inner Circle’ of people who would be our ‘stars’ and frontline in promoting our work (what Rob Caslick referred to as his ‘foot soldiers’ in this Chuffed.org Case Study). We selected people who were passionate about the cinema, culture and the arts and were well-connected in the community – the movers and shakers and key influencers of the Coffs Coast if you like. Their email connections with various groups helped build the loyal groups of supporters of the campaign and reach people who had the means and the commitment to donate.

 

Showtime: The launch that kept on going

The Unofficial Launch

Our official launch date was set on the 4th July 2015. A week prior, we opened up the campaign in a “pre-launch”. We sent out an email only to supporters who had signed up to our mailing list, and as a special reward, they got first dibbs on all rewards – important as the number of seats to be sponsored were limited. This was a great way to not only thank people who had signed up with us, but it also meant that when the official launch happened, we already had money on the total.

Facebook

Facebook is also the ideal platform to unveil something like the refurbishment as it happens and give our followers a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look.

To drive our social media campaign and assist with the workload, we set up a communications steering committee.

Our first Facebook strategy was to take photos of locals and ask them to share their favourite Sawtell Cinema memory or tell us why the Cinema was important to them. We posted these on Facebook – along the vein of the ‘Humans of New York’. This was not only easy, as everyone had a story they wanted to tell, it was very sharable. People love seeing themselves online – and this again assisted with building community.

We also shared photos of the old cinema and had a ‘Sawtell Saturday’ section sharing beautiful nature photos from our community. As a bonus, people started sharing their own special photos of Sawtell Cinema, which were easy to repost.

Media/PR

Media support was very important, particularly for those not on Facebook. We established a number of media partnerships, including community and commercial radio stations, ABC Coffs Coast and Arts Mid North Coast, the local paper, Coffs Coast Advocate, plus sent regular media releases to a range of newspapers, radio and television stations.

Community radio station 2AIR FM were particularly supportive, and in the lead-up to the crowd funding campaign gave regular hour-long interviews with various people involved in the campaign, including the architects, designers, steering committee members and crowd funding campaign team.

Offline

The week leading up to the launch, we decided to accommodate offline donations so people could pay by either cash or cheque on the day, as many of our audience are not web-savvy and don’t feel comfortable making online contributions.

The mechanics around this meant preparing forms at the last minute for each reward level and having to manually enter donations to the ‘back-end’ of Chuffed.org during the day. This was important as many of our rewards were limited, and so it would have been disastrous to sell one offline that had already sold out online. On launch day people also requested to make electronic funds transfer directly to our bank, so we had to quickly set up a system to accommodate this as well.

These tools then let us do a number of things offline.

We went out to various social groups and networks and gave live presentations on what we were trying to achieve. With the Chair of the Investor Group, we spoke at breakfasts, lunches and dinners with Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, Probus, social groups, business networks – encouraging them to support the campaign.

We had our local Post Office take offline donations across the counter throughout the campaign and this greatly assisted particularly the older market who deeply loved the cinema take part in the campaign. Over $10,000 was raised through the Post Office alone.

In May the Investors held an Auction to sell some of the old equipment and features of the cinema that would not be used in the refurbishment – including all the old seating. We decided to open the cinema the day before the auction as a Community Day so people could come in and have one last look at the cinema before the renovations began. The Auction also gave locals the chance to pick up a piece of Sawtell Cinema history – and we ended up raising $10,000 towards the refurbishment, plus saved money in removing, relocating or ‘dumping’ the old fixtures. It all added to the inclusivity. This event by itself got broad media coverage on radio, print and television.

More broadly, we thought it was important to have a visible presence around the community, so we produced some marketing posters and flyers that were distributed to cafes and retail outlets across the region. Huge movie size posters were framed in the display windows on the outside of the cinema, promoting key events such as the Auction, the Facebook campaign and the crowd funding campaigns and rewards.

Without a doubt, all these offline strategies paid off. Of the $142,500 raised, $57,800 came from offline donations.

The Official Launch Event

We decided to do a live launch event on 4 July during the annual Sawtell Chilli Festival which attracts up to 10,000 visitors to the main street of Sawtell. We thought this would assist with media interest plus give us an opportunity to physically sign people up to donate to the campaign on the day. We opened the doors to the cinema foyer one more time and a group of our ‘Stars’ volunteered on the day, all modelling the limited edition ‘I Saved Sawtell Cinema’ t-shirt.

Local computer business, Coffs Computing, provided iPads so our volunteers could assist people with making donations. We fitted out the Box Office as a photo booth and photographed and interviewed people after they made their donation for Facebook content. The architects, g2 architects, provided a live computer aided design walk-through of the new cinema so people could see the vision and understand what they were signing up to support. The result – we ended up having a motza of a day, making $22,000 in donations on just that one day.

Once the campaign started, we sent regular updates to the Inner Circle; had a regular spot on 2CHFM updating progress and encouraging support; almost fortnightly interviews on ABC Coffs Coast; and many features in the local paper. The Facebook campaign started thanking our supporters, including individuals, groups and businesses, and giving milestone updates which were widely shared. And we made the local news a couple of times.

 

The Results

The Sawtell Cinema Crowdfunding Campaign results

We could never have guessed the success of the campaign. We thought it would be fabulous to reach $50,000 in total and yet, in four weeks, we reached our target of $75,000. We re-set the target to $125,000, which meant we would be able to buy the new screens & curtains as well as the seats, but again, I didn’t actually think we would make it. But make it we did. In the last 10 days or so of the campaign, we pulled in $30,000 – taking the final amount raised to $142,500.

Maybe even more extraordinary was how far the story spread – we ended up with donations not only from across Australia but also from around the world, as far afield as Turkey, France, Japan, UK and LA. In total, 480 people donated to our campaign. And our story was picked up by the Sunday Telegraph, and many online arts and film hubs, such as Regional Arts NSW, Arts NSW, ScreenNSW, Create Australia and Inside Film.

 

Crowdfunding: What is it and how can it help my charity fundraising?

Girl with hand up

A definition, introduction and 101 for not-for-profits and charities

The traditional definition of crowdfunding goes something like this:

Crowdfunding is the process of funding a project online by collecting small amounts of money from a large volume of people

While there are a lot of flavours of crowdfunding the most important components are:

  • A project that needs to be funded (not an organisation);
  • A fixed goal that needs to be raised; and
  • A timeframe that the fundraising campaign runs for

The problem with this definition is that it’s misleading and makes people think that to access the crowd of funders out there, you just need to put your project online and do no work. That’s why we came up with a better definition. One that reflects how you get to the crowdin crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding (verb): A marketing campaign targeted at people who love you… which if you do well, spreads from your friends to their friends and from them to the crowd

Crowdfunding for non-profits - how your campaign gets promoted

We like this definition of crowdfunding better, because it emphasises:

  • That crowdfunding is all about marketing
  • That crowdfunding is social i.e. you access the crowd via people you already know talking to their friends
  • It makes it clearer what you need to do to succeed

 

So if I’m marketing to people I already know, how is this different to emailing my list a link to my website?

While it might not be immediately obvious, how you run a direct email campaign and the experience donors get is totally different to a crowdfunding campaign. Here’s three differences:

  1. A direct email campaign is designed to get a small percentage of people on a large list that you already own to donate. Crowdfunding is designed to get those people to donate AND to tell their friends about the campaign. That means that if you have a starting list of 1,000 people, a direct email campaign limits your maximum number of donors to 1,000, whereas a crowdfunding campaign could well attract donors that are not on your list.
  2. The fixed goal, timeframe and project nature of crowdfunding means that donors get an engaging experience that they want to come back to to check the progress of the campaign.
  3. A direct email campaign is about a charity (you) talking at a large volume of people (broadcast marketing). A crowdfunding campaign is about your supporters talking to their friends (social marketing).
  4. (Bonus) You’ll very rarely get press about your direct email campaign. Heaps of crowdfunding campaigns get written about – you can check out a few from Chuffed.org campaigns here.

 

Ok, got it. So where does crowdfunding fit into the charity fundraising landscape?

So roughly speaking, you can split charity fundraising into two buckets:

  • Relational Fundraising: large value, low volume (Government, High Net Worth, Trusts/Foundations, Corporates)
  • General Public Fundraising: low value, large volume (Face-to-face, Direct Mail, Direct Email, Telemarketing, Events, Peer-to-Peer)

Crowdfunding belongs squarely in the ‘General Public Fundraising’ bucket and in a non-profit, it’s usually led by the same person/people who looks after other public fundraising campaigns.

While crowdfunding is heavily project focused, increasingly smart non-profits have found ways to running regular crowdfunding campaigns to fund their ongoing operational costs – but that’s a whole other post.

Crowdfunding: how the best animal welfare organisations fundraise

At Chuffed.org, animal welfare is one of our biggest categories. Dozens of animal shelters, advocacy organisations and protection groups have crowdfunded their projects with us. Today, we wanted to share with you how they did, in the hope that it might inspire you to do the same.

1. The new shelter campaign

Edgar's Mission

When Edgar’s Mission ran out of space at their former sanctuary, they knew they needed to move. The costs associated with fitting out their new site though were immense, and so they turned to their crowd to help them out. In the space of 60 days, 1,800 people from 17 countries raised over $162,000 (their original target was $50,000!). The trick to these campaigns is to design great ‘sponsorship’ perks. For $500 you could sponsor a perch in the chicken barn; for $1,500 you sponsor the duck pond, and so on. These types of sponsorship perks work well because people love being able to “own” a bit of the sanctuary you’re creating – think Farmville except in real life.

Other great examples:

2. The injured animal campaign

Animal Shelter Campaign

When the team at Maneki Neko Cat Rescue get a new cat come in that needs surgery, they fire up a campaign on Chuffed.org and turn to their audience for support. As the support comes in and the surgery progresses, the Maneki Neko team do an amazing job of telling their donors about what happened to the cat that they saved – it’s an intimate blow-by-blow account, often from the surgical theatre, that gives donors an unheard of peak into exactly what happened with the money they donated. This post-campaign story-telling is key for these types of campaigns and its the reason that donors keep coming back for more.

It’s worth noting that although each individual campaign isn’t huge, in total Maneki Neko have set up 13 campaigns with us, raising over $20,700.

Other great examples:

3. The advocate campaign

Animal Shelter Campaign

When things need to change in the animal world, it’s nearly always animal welfare organisations that need to lead the charge. Many of us have been horrified by the practices used in the greyhound racing industry, but the team at Animal Liberation Queensland decided to do something about it. They set up billboards at the main train station and then turned to their supporters to help keep it up. The $10,500 they raised helped keep the billboards up, exposing 105,000 people a day to their crucial message.

Other great examples:

  • Humane Research Australia raised $10,400 to put up a billboard encouraging a ban on primate experiments
  • Aussie Farms Inc raised nearly $20,000 to fund the documentary, Dominion, to expose the way that animals are mistreated through various industries

If you think your organisation could do something similar, just get in touch at info@chuffed.org or just click on the button below.

[Video] – The basics of crowdfunding for non-profits and social enterprises (25 min)

In this 20 minute webinar, Chuffed.org CEO, Prashan Paramanathan, takes you through the basics of crowdfunding for your social cause project.

We cover the five crucial steps for crowdfunding success:

  1. Choosing the right project
  2. Setting a reasonable target and timeframe
  3. Designing compelling perks
  4. Building your audience
  5. Promoting, promoting, promoting

 

Watch the video here (27 min)

What are the most successful perks/rewards for my crowdfunding campaign?

Perk Soft Toy Bear

We get asked a lot about perks and rewards and how important they are for crowdfunding success? Do I really need to offer perks? Won’t it stop people being philanthropic?

Our answer to these? Perks help. A LOT.

The reason for this is that perks give people a way of participating in your campaign. They tap into selfish motivations as well as benevolent motivations. And they let you access your supporters’ spending purse, not just their philanthropic purse — you can guess which of these is bigger.

So what perks should you offer? 

Well perks tend to fall into three categories:

  1. Pre-release products or services: ‘Selling’ products and services via crowdfunding is probably the most common type of perk. Whether it’s tickets to your eventmembershipsCDsbee-hives or even crepes, forward selling products and services is a great way to get people involved in your project.
  2. Unique experiences: Most social cause organisations don’t realise it, but they are nearly always an amazing repository of wonderfully special, unique experiences. It could be dinners on a rooftop gardenworkshops on a farmtickets to an opening party, or even locating a tattoo on a founder.
  3. Special recognition: An oldie, but a goodie. Getting their name on or sponsoring a part of a project is still popular among some crowds. The key here is being creative on what can be sponsored. Edgar’s Mission had barns, rocks, rakes, posts, shelters and even a mountain.

 

So, how do I come up with perks for my campaign?

This might sound obvious, but the easiest way to come up with perks is to co-design them with potential donors. Edgar’s Mission ran a workshop with some of its key volunteers prior to its campaign to come up with their perks. Spacecubed did the same with their members. It’s best to have a hypothesis on your perks as a starting point, as well as the levels you need perks at (normally $25, $50, $100, $250, $1000, $2500, $5000)

 

Some other considerations

  • Perks which are directly connected to your campaign, which let people participate in your campaign/project are far better than unconnected perks (eg. Amazon gift cards,
  • Having an early bird offer on your perks is a great way to build momentum. Spacecubed – a co-working space in Perth – released a very limited number of highly discounted memberships in the first 24 hours of their campaign
  • Some perks (like drugs, illegal stuff, raffles) are not allowed. Make sure you check our terms to stay on the right side of the rules.

How to raise $15,000 in 50 hours – includes email templates and tools

Rob Caslick

In early 2013, when we were on the hunt for our very first crowdfunding campaigns, I met up with Rob Caslick in a rather unglamorous hotel lobby in King’s Cross, Sydney. Rob was an engineer by day but at night transformed into volunteer-extraordinaire, running a weekly Organic soup kitchen for 50 people at his parish church.

We chatted about a potential campaign for the soup kitchen, but it wasn’t until November that year when Rob approached us about a Refugee Rooftop Garden he wanted to crowdfund, that we really got down to battle planning.

Rob launched their campaign on December 2. In 50 hours, he’d hit his target of $15,000. By Christmas he’d raised $30,000, been featured in the Sydney Morning Herald and ABC Radio, and was fielding calls from the 7:30 Report and TV celebrities wanting to be part of the campaign.

Here’s how he did it – in his own words

_______________________________________

HOW TO RAISE $15,000 IN 50 HOURS

To say that the Refugee Garden had a long incubation period would be a massive understatement. I had been talking up the idea for 12 months to anyone who’d listen but it wasn’t until a meeting with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), which is located directly above the Soup Kitchen I ran, that the idea for the Rooftop Refugee Garden idea really became a reality.

Then of course there was the issue of money. We had planners cost out the project and the absolute minimum we needed was $15,000. We did the usual thing of applying for grants, but when they didn’t work, we turned to crowdfunding.

The team at Chuffed talked us through exactly what we needed to prepare to make the campaign a success and since I have a military background, I thought I’d theme the campaign as a military battle.  It added an element of humour to the campaign (at least to me).

Here’s my battle strategy.

_______________________________________

Tactic A: Multiply myself with foot soldiers (worth $5,000)

By myself I could only raise so much, but with 10 of me, we’ll clean up

After stripping my Gmail contact list and realising I had about 500 people to send the campaign to, it became pretty clear that only sending the campaign to that list was going to be a failing strategy. The team at Chuffed suggested that I needed a list closer to 3,000 people to make the campaign work and the only way to do that would be to recruit more people to the cause.

Step 1: Recruit your soldiers

I knew foot soldiers for this campaign were going to come from three sources:

  1. People involved in the project:  I  had the full project team commit early – the landscape architectural company produced a budget, the structural engineer looked for drawings and started to comment on how much weight we could hold.  All of these people became automatic soldiers.
  2. The super keen-beans: While I’d been talking up the project to anyone who’d listen, I kept note of the ones that got excited. They also became automatic soldiers.
  3. General recruitment: One month before launch date, I sent this recruitment email to my 500 Gmail contacts:

Sat, Nov 9, 2013 at 6:41 AM

Subject: Rooftop Garden update and Invitation to tour Wayside Chapel Rooftop Garden

Hello team,

We are about to launch a crowd funding campaign to raise the funds to build our garden above JRS. I am looking for some campaign soldiers. You get a free Refugee Garden T-shirt and all I ask is that you send out an email to all your work colleagues and friends on December 1st. Asking them to donate to our project. The email will be a link to the campaign website (www.chuffed.org) where we will be hosting our campaign.

I met with Indira Naidoo who set up the Wayside Chapel Rooftop Garden yesterday. She has invited us to tour the garden with reverend graham long. They have a great garden with bees and indigenous herbs.

The tour needs to be a Thursday and I have penciled in November 28 at 5pm. Let me know if you would like to be involved.

Rob Caslick

Four weeks out from the campaign, we’d recruited 15 foot soldiers.

Step 2: Engage your foot soldiers like crazy

These 15 foot soldiers were pure gold. They were our first donors and our biggest evangelisers. I wanted them to feel part of the inner circle – like they were part of the team, not like I was asking them for something.

We did three things with them:

  1. Three weeks out, we sent out the campaign to the soldiers and asked them for feedback.
  2. Two weeks out, we  personally called every soldier and ran them through what the attack plan was.
  3. 7 days out, we leaked the video to the soldiers and updated them on the great contribution of other soldiers so far.  The email was really the first call to action.  We asked the soldiers to send out the link to all of their friends now and be ready for battle on the next Monday – Launch Day.  I made it super-simple for people to share the campaign by actually typing up an email for people to use.  Honestly, it felt a little controlling but I thought it would help to maintain a unified message.This is the email we sent:

Date: Tue, Nov 26, 2013 at 6:47 AM
Subject: St Canice’s Rooftop Garden for Refugees – “Meet James”

Hello Soldiers,

Thanks for offering to go into battle for the Refugee’s Garden in Kings Cross.  The campaign runs for December and January,  but our target is to raise $15k by Christmas. This gives us about three weeks starting Monday December 2.

We need to go in hard.

We have selected the finest 15 soldiers.  Your campaign mission is to raise $1000 each and/or send the campaign link out to 500 people.

We have had a lot of support so far.

1. Corporate Katrina Torres has designed a cool tshirt for people who donate $50

.  Sargent Christine Manfield (celebrity chef and author) has offered to cook for the first 40 people to donate $150. Dinner will be in the garden mid Feb 2014 (no pressure).

3. Lieutenant Danielle Zorbas has put together the attached campaign video.  Thanks also to Frances Yeoland for her graphics, Dappled Cities for the music and Mr James for being part of this campaign.

VIEW 3 MINUTE VIDEO HERE

Your first mission: Please can you send out an email to your friends, colleagues and clients this week, with a link to this video introducing them to James and establishing the need for the garden.
For convenience I have typed up the below email for you to copy paste.  (Feel free to amend to suit).

The campaign goes live on Monday December 2.  We will ask you to send a follow up email on Monday afternoon to officially launch the campaign and to start collecting donations.

Feel free to call me with questions or comments.

A sincere thank you again for being part of this.

Rob Caslick

____________________________

 

Dear ????

Meet James.  A new resident of Australia.  From arriving by plane, James had to wait almost 5 years for his refugee application to be processed. He suffered depression and anxiety.

His story is common.

To help James and other Asylum Seekers living in Sydney we are building a garden. The aim of the garden is to provide a place of meaningful and familiar activity.  An opportunity to give back to the community by growing foods for the soup kitchen below.  An opportunity to start engaging with the community and improving conversational skills.

Please watch and share this 3 minute video we have created.

http://youtu.be/60585gUgzi0

Our goal is to raise a total of $15,000. All help welcome.  Our campaign starts next week.

We are offering the following perks to donors:

1. Donate $50 and receive a Refugee Garden t-shirt,

2. Donate $75 and receive tickets to the cocktail opening of the garden,

3. Donate $150 and receive tickets to Dinner in the garden with Christine Manfield $150 (40 tickets only) date mid feb

4. Donate $250 and receive 1 x Garden Membership (Cocktail + Dinner + Tshirt)

5. Donate $2000 and be an official Garden Sponsor (4 x garden memberships plus recognition on plaque. Plus invitation to future harvest events)

6. Donate $5000 and be an official Garden Founding Partner (4 x garden membership plus greater recognition on plaque and invitation to future harvest events and free hire of the garden for corporate event)

 

Please help raise awareness by sharing this video and campaign with others.  I will email you again on Monday when the campaign goes live

Regards

Soldier A

 

You’ll notice that I quite explicitly talked about the actions that other soldiers had made. This was deliberate. Talking up the contribution soldiers have already made, inspires the other soldiers to action.

If we had more time we would’ve had a launch party with the soldiers. By the Friday before launch, I had soldiers calling me up asking me when the damn campaign would open – all their friends were already asking them how to donate. To keep the momentum (and the suspense) up, I sent out this email to the soldiers:

Date: Fri, Nov 29, 2013 at 5:59 AM
Subject: Early Success

Soldiers,

Well done.  Our preemptive strike has been successful.

Many people are already emailing me wanting to donate.  Once the campaign goes live donations are simple.

The plan now is to finalise our online crowdfunding campaign.  I plan to do this on Saturday.

On Monday please be prepared to send out your emails again.  Studies suggest that people are more ‘giving’ after lunch.  I aim to send some out at about 130pm. Tuesday’s after lunch are also a good time.

Rob

 

Step 3: Launch hard or go home  

“Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.”

– Sun Tsu: The Art of War.

The first three days are do or die. If you don’t get to 30-40% in your first few days, you’re dead in the water. Since we didn’t really have our own list to launch to, launch day was all about getting the foot soldiers revved up. Again, I used the pre-written email tactic to make it super easy to share:

Date: Mon, Dec 2, 2013 at 7:05 AM

Subject: It’s almost time

Soldiers, Time to break out the face paint.

The campaign goes live at 1pm. Our campaign message: We understand Christmas is a time of giving. If you give to one charity this Christmas, please give to us.

Here is the link to our campaign. https://www.chuffed.org/project/rgkx/

From 1pm, please also copy the link into your social media or press share/like when you see others have done it. I have typed up the below email for you to send. Feel free to amend to suit or create your own.

A sincere thank you for your support in the campaign so far. See you on the other side!

Rob Caslick

__________________

 

Dear Friends/Colleagues,

It can take five years for a refugee application to be processed. This means five years in limbo without work permits and without meaningful, five years of vulnerability, without family and friend support networks.

We are building a rooftop garden for these asylum seekers. But our rooftop garden will grow more than food; it will grow opportunities. Opportunities for refugees to participate in familiar activities and grow traditional foods. Opportunities for meaningful activities during periods of uncertainty. Opportunities to increase self worth. We understand that Christmas is a time of giving.

If you give to one charity this Christmas, please give to us. It’s not all about giving, in return for your donations, we are offering t-shirts, a dinner with Christine Manfield, a cocktail reception and garden memberships.

Click here for more: https://www.chuffed.org/project/rgkx/

Soldier A

 The result was extraordinary. We raised $4,724 in our first day. A third of the way there.

Step 4: Keep the momentum going by keeping your soldiers updated

The momentum of Day 1, spilled over to Day 2 and by the end of the day we were just shy of $7,000. Thanks to Tactic 2 (below) by Day 3, we hit our target. At each milestone, I emailed the soldiers to keep them excited – everyone loves to be part of a team that’s winning.

Here’s the email after Day 2:

Date: Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 5:50 AM
Subject: Almost half way

Soldiers

You have fought well.  In just over 36 hours we have raised $6734.  We have only 7 tickets to Christine Manfield left!

This afternoon back up arrives.  An email goes out to the entire Parish of St Canice’s. If you yourselves were going to purchase tickets to Christine [one of the perks] please do so before 2pm.  If you can’t and would like me to put a ticket aside for you, let me know.

Rob

And here’s the Victory email, where we decided to raise the bar:

Date: Thu, Dec 5, 2013 at 5:36 AM

Subject: Victory – $15,000 raised.

Soldiers, you have fought a great fight.

Together we raised $15,000 in one of the fastest social crowd funding campaigns in Australia. Congratulations, to each one of you.

No doubt, there will be more battles to fight. But with the huge support we have had it gives me confidence and courage that we are on the right path. I look forward to sharing the journey with you.

As a thank you, I have added your names down for a t-shirt and a ticket to the opening cocktail event. The intention is to leave our campaign live and go for $20k. An additional 5k will allow us to build a pergola with hanging vines and a seated area for reflection.

A huge thanks to our friends at Chuffed.org. They have mentored me in this campaign and also provided us with a $1,000 bonus. (2,000 if we get to 20k). Enjoy your day.

Rob Caslick

 

Tactic B: Leverage the influencers – people who care about the same things that you do but have far wider reach (worth $8,000)

The second part of our battle plan took a very similar approach to the first, but with a different audience – the influencer organisations. We had been working with quite a few partner organisations at the Soup Kitchen for quite a while and I knew they were extremely influential in the food industry.

Two months prior to the campaign starting, I began engaging with two large influencers (Food Connect and Feather & Bone) about the campaign. I asked them if we could add their logos to our Chuffed page to add credibility and weight to our campaign and then asked if they could send out the campaign to their mailing lists.

Here’s an example of the email I sent:

Date: 27/11/2013, at 12:26 PM

Subject: F&B Logo

Hi Grant and Laura,

The campaign for the garden will go out to quite a few people next week.  I was thinking to put the Feather & Bone logo as a supporter of the kitchen and garden.  Is this ok with you?

Rob

 

I can’t overstate how important the support of these influencers was to our campaign- and in particularly the email that they sent out. They multiplied our reach several fold, celebrated our victories with us, and added credibility to the project.

Click here to read the email that Feather & Bone sent out to their mailing list.

And here’s what happened when these two influencers sent out their emails:

The Welcome to Australia team (a refugee support organisation) also helped by reposting our campaign on their Facebook page – the post received 455 likes and 28 shares.

All these influencers had one thing in common – they all cared about an issue that we also cared about. Luckily for us our campaign hit two big issues – food and refugees.

Our main lessons

So, all in all, here’s my top 5 things I think you need for success:

  1. Listen to the guys at Chuffed.  Without doubt their advice helped us raise more money.  They have done this many times before and actively helped us better engage our audience. They did everything from helping us write emails and media releases to campaign strategy advice to fielding calls from the media.
  2. The campaign is won or lost before it begins.  It is all about the four weeks prior to the campaign and how you launch. If you don’t launch hard, you won’t make it.
  3. Multiply yourself.  Allow other people to own your campaign.  Don’t just ask people to donate, ask people to treat the campaign as their own and have them raise funds for you.  The more ownership they have the more money they will raise.
  4. Engage the influencers.  Our campaign had a huge kick once the influencers told their audience.  The best influencers are people who already support you, but next in line are people that care about the same issues you do. Involve them early, make it easy for them to share your campaign, and you’ll be amazed how much their support will mean.
  5. Confidence matters. When you communicate to your soldiers, you have to remain in control and remain confident of success. You don’t start a battle by telling your soldiers ‘if we’re lucky we might win this one’.

And finally, running these campaigns is hard work, particularly if you’ve got a day job! Just check out the times those emails were sent! But it’s also extremely rewarding – we didn’t just raise $30,000 for our garden, we built a whole community around it.

That’s the power of crowdfunding.

– Rob Caslick

5 steps to writing an awesome non-profit crowdfunding pitch

Girl Writing

Every day we get a whole heap of crowdfunding pitches from non-profits and social enterprises, which vary from the very good to the very crap. We’ve seen it all, from the three-line-’people-will-get-it’ pitch to the boring-10-page-grant-application pitch (hint, both miss the point).

To make it easier for you, we’ve broken down crowdfunding pitches (and any non-profit pitch, really) into these 5 steps and given you an example from a real campaign:

1. Context – Set the scene Zoom right out and set the scene for your audience. Many of them will already know this, but it moves their brain into the right frame to introduce what you’re doing. In 2010-11 Australia had 54 396 applications for refugee status, mostly from conflict-torn areas,
2. Issue – Explain what the problem is in the current context 

 

Normally there’s something broken in the current context or there’s an opportunity – whichever it is, tell people what the issue is, before you tell them how you’re going to solve (or take advantage of) it.

But we take forever to process their applications – more than five years in some cases. This means five years in limbo with nothing meaningful to do, and five years of vulnerability, without family and friend support networks.
3. Solution – What are you doing to solve the issue? 

 

This is where you talk about what you’re going to do. Keep it simple and specific. Avoid non-profit buzzwords that no-one really understands (seriously, don’t do it).

We are building a rooftop garden for these refugees to volunteer at.
4. Impact – How will what you do change the world? 

 

Here’s where you talk about how what you’re doing will make a difference.

Our rooftop garden will grow more than food; it will grow opportunities. Opportunities for refugees to participate in familiar activities and grow traditional foods. Opportunities for meaningful activities during periods of uncertainty. Opportunities to increase self worth.
5. Ask – How much do you need and what are you going to spend it on? 

 

And always end with an ask. Be clear on how much you want to raise and what you’re going to spend it on.

We need $15,000 to build the garden and we’ve got some awesome perks for those who help us raise the funds.

And that’s it. You can use this same flow for your pitch video too. Simple.

How to increase your donation page conversion by 1500%

Girl looking at ipad

We’re obsessed with conversion metrics at Chuffed. Seriously, we A/B test everything. Colours/sizes/positions of buttons, call to actions, payment flows – they’re all constantly being improved and a result we’ve increased conversion 15 fold. That’s not a typo. And we don’t mean 15%.

Here’s how we did it and how you can apply it to your own donation page:

1. Don’t make people create an account before they donate

You know that thing when you click ‘Donate’ and you get redirected to a ‘Create an account with us’ page.

If you’re doing it, stop. Right now.

Ok, confession time: when we first started, we copied every other crowdfunding site and made account creation compulsory before you could donate. Big mistake. When we redesigned the site in October 2013, we completely removed the account creation step and conversion dramatically improved.

Turns out that this new flow:

Donate -> Enter your payment details -> Thanks for donating

Works several times better than this flow:

Donate -> Create an account -> Enter your payment details -> Thanks for donating

(Actually most crowdfunding sites use this flow, which is even worse):

Donate -> Confirm donation -> Create an account -> Enter your payment details -> Thanks for donating

Oh, and we still create accounts for people, we just do it while their donation’s being processed.

2. Make the donation button red

Ok, so there’s nothing magical about red, what’s important here is that your donation button should stand out from the rest of the page. If people are looking for it, don’t make it hard for them to find it. The easiest way to do this is with colour contrasts – make most of the page a dull colour, and make the donate button a bright colour.

We tried a range of colours on our page and we found that red increased conversions by about 50% from our original green.

3. Be transparent – tell donors where their money’s going

I sometimes think we’ve been so smashed around about administration costs in the NFP sector that we’ve taken to talking in obscurities about where money is going to be spent.

One study* that we came across said that only 4% of charity websites actually tell people what their donations would be spent on.

We strongly believe that telling people at the point of donation what percentage of their money is going where actually helps conversion. We believe in it so much that instead of hiding fees seven levels down on our website or in some obscure section of our Terms & Conditions, we decided to make it clear on the payment page what goes to the charity and what (if anything) goes to us.

Here’s a shot of what it looks like:

A final note

Every page is different and it’s difficult to know exactly what’s going to increase conversion on your page, so it’s absolutely critical to guess, test and update (and then do it over again). We use Visual Website Optimizer to do all our A/B testing but there’s other great tools like Optimizely and Google Content Experiments that have relatively cheap plans.

*Source: Donation Usability: Increasing Online Giving to Non-Profits and Charities, Jacob Nielsen