Building Your Project
Recognizing that crowdfunding is a relatively new funding paradigm, it is important that you
recognize the marketing implications of the elements that comprise your project profile. Here,
we offer a guide to follow for building your FundaGeek member and project profiles in order to
maximize the effectiveness of your campaign.
Read the Project Guidelines First
The first step is to review FundaGeek Project Building Step by Step
The guidelines will help you organize your thoughts when building your member and project
profiles by giving you an understanding of what data elements are required.
Complete Your Member Profile
In order to attract potential backers, you should fully complete your Member Profile so
people can get to know you. This is done by selecting Manage Member Profile
your My Account
Your Contact Name
is private and never displayed on our site, but Display Name
is displayed and associated with your member account in a number of areas. It makes for
better transparency if you use your real name as the display name. Your Bio
should be rich with details about how you’re qualified to carry off your project –
including educational and professional background. You should also provide URLs – your
personal or company website, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn page, Twitter account, and
if you’re a researcher – your academic web page. To add a touch of familiarity, upload
a picture of yourself as your Member Thumbnail image.
One big mistake that project owners tend to make is to be invisible to backers outside of
FundaGeek. Do not make your project detail page your only point of contact (the Send Message
link). Instead, make sure you include an e-mail address in your profile so backers can
contact you directly. You can create a special e-mail account just for use with your
FundaGeek campaign, for example: firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t just include your Twitter
account, or the address to your blog. If a backer has to take extra steps in contacting
you to ask questions, you’ll lose possible supporters.
It is amazing how many project owners try to use monikers for their Display Name, fail
to include an e-mail address, and provide a blog address that is “read only.” Backers
will feel like you’re hiding from something so why would they want to pledge you their money.
Creating Your Project Profile
Start up the New Project Wizard
process by clicking “Create a Project” on the
homepage. The wizard will get you started by allowing you to enter the primary elements
of your profile, but you likely won’t be done quite yet. Don’t be concerned if you
realize that some of the project details you’ve entered should be a little or a lot
different from what you’ve already done. You can always select the Manage Project Profile
tool in your My Account
menu in order to continue working on your project profile.
Even after your project is approved and posted, you are able to go back and make edits
to your project profile and change anything EXCEPT your Goal Amount, Funding Period, Pledge
Amounts and Rewards.
The most important part of your profile is the “headline.” Its purpose is to stop the
eye to keep the potential backer from moving on. When a headline is successful and stops
the eye, then the first sentence in the content will determine if the reader goes any
further, or instantly leaves. Five times as many people read your headline than your
content. Quite simply, people won’t stop their busy lives to read your content unless
you give them a good reason to do so. So a good headline promises something new and a “benefit.”
Relating the “headline” element to your FundaGeek project, it is your Project Name
and Project Thumbnail
image that catches the eye. The first thing that a potential
backer is going to see when finding your project is its name. Give your project a catchy
name, try and think of a name that will “stick” with them that is easy to remember. A good
project name is usually short, just a few words.
The equivalent of the “first sentence” of an ad is your project’s Short Description
When you create your short description, it is very important that it is EASY to understand
and that people are able to “get it” right away. People viewing your project may be
unfamiliar with it or its subject area. You want to pique their interest in what your project
is all about.
Your project name, thumbnail image and short description are combined to create your
which is what a potential backer will see first on our homepage.
The backer will view your project capsule in our catalog along with all other active
projects and your goal is to create enough interest with these first three elements that
they click on your project to go to your project detail page. The project capsule is also
what comprises your Project Widget
Write for the Widest Possible Audience
It is critical for the success of your campaign to describe your project in simple terms
that the lay public can not only understand, but also get behind enough to pledge your
project. This is particularly important for research projects which normally involve
highly technical terms.
Use simple words. Do not use jargon or acronyms. Use words that are shorter and familiar,
they’re easier to understand. Write as if you are writing to someone in middle school. Your project is amazing and really important, but if no one can understand it, they won’t back it.
In The Influential Fundraiser
by Bernard Ross and Clare Segal, the following example is given:
: "Prenatal mortality through maternal HIV transmission is 35%.”
Easy to understand
: "1 in 3 babies born to mothers who are HIV positive die within six months if the illness is passed on at birth."
Use numbers rather than percentages whenever possible. It's easier for the mind to understand.
When creating your project’s Full Description
, use short sentences, aim for no more than 17 words. That’s what the professionals say is easiest for humans to read. Keep your paragraphs to a few lines. Anything longer is not likely to be read online.
Tell a story, people can relate to stories, especially stories of other people. They are easy to follow and interesting to read. Stories are a wonderful way to evoke emotion – a major motivation for backing a project. Describe why the project is urgently
needed, what the project will solve or provide, and what will happen without the project. Turn the reader into a hero by backing this project and making it available.
Include pictures in your Full Description. It makes for a more appealing presentation when you embed images in your project’s description rather than have an all-text profile. Examples of compelling images might be a picture of your product, sketch of your prototype design, a group shot of your team, anything else related to your project.
Project Video Makes a Big Difference
On your project detail page you need to bring your project and yourself alive to backers.
It has been proven over and over again that the most important component that creates
the greatest response from potential backers is a short video. It’s a great way to tell
your story. The video doesn’t have to be a professionally prepared, expensive video at all.
Some of the most successful crowdfunding projects have simply presented a video of the
project owner just sitting in front of their smart phone or web cam. Here are some
important elements to include:
- Introduce yourself and discuss your background
- Explain your project and why the world needs it
- What problem will it solve or benefit will it provide
- Show a picture, sketch or mock-up of your new product
- Explain why you need the funds and how the money will be used
- Share and show your passion that is driving you to create the project
- Bring it all alive to a potential backer and rally their enthusiasm
At the end of your video, call the backer to action. You can explain the rewards you’re offering in exchange for pledges and ask them to pledge and to share your project with others they know.
With a crowdfunding project, the “call to action” that you seek from a potential backer is to make a pledge for a reward. There are 3 reasons why people make a pledge on a project; they need or want the reward, they have a passion for the project or they like the project owner. The most important of these 3 reasons is “they like you.” If they don’t like you, they won’t trust you. If they don’t trust you, they won’t be inclined to make a pledge and back your project.
The video provides you the opportunity to reach that point with a potential backer. They will start to feel that they know you and like you and therefore trust you. When you’re creating a video for your project remember that the first 5 seconds of your video is your Headline. You’ve got 5 seconds to get their attention, peak their Interest and stop them from clicking away.
Once you’ve created your video, the best approach is to host your project video on a site like Youtube or Vimeo, and embed it directly in your project’s Full Description rather than upload it as a Project File. It is important to embed your video near the top of your Full Description in order to catch the eye.
In order to convince potential backers to back your project you need to provide a compelling series of rewards. It is true that some will wish to support your project without any reward at all, but most will opt for a reward. Your creativity in coming up with rewards is very important. Rewards don’t have to cost you a lot; in fact they shouldn’t since the more you spend fulfilling rewards, the less money you have in developing your project. The most popular rewards are those that make the supporter feel part of your team, and in an important sense they are since their money is making the project possible. Although rewards selection is intimately tied to the specific project, here are some general ideas you can use:
- Signed limited edition of sketch of product, etc.
- Presale copies of your product once completed.
- If you’re building a subscription service, provide 3 months free access.
- Add the backer’s name to a special web page, “Our new product was made possible with the help of the following supporters.”
- Periodic Skype conference for backers to get an update on the project.
- Add the backer to a private e-mail list from the development team as they work on the project.
- For local backers, an invitation to a launch event.
- Logo products such a t-shirt, mugs, bumper stickers, etc.
- Consider digital rewards. Offering backers items like downloadable prints may save you time and money.
It is important to provide a wide variety of pledge denominations, from the very low to high (the
minimum pledge is $5 and the maximum is $10,000). Give the backer enough choices to match what they
can afford. To fund a $10,000 project it might seem like a good idea to provide only a $500 and
$1,000 pledge amount, but that isn’t a good strategy. Crowdfunding history has shown that the most
popular and successful pledge amounts are $25, $50 and $100 amounts when included with the larger
pledge amounts that are occasionally selected. In fact, statistics show that $30 is the most
successful pledge amount of all!
If you only can offer a limited number of a particular reward, say a pledge amount of $500 for an invitation to ride on your new orbital vehicle, then fill out the Maximum field in your Pledge tab; only 10 people can fit in the spaceship! Leaving the Maximum field blank means there is no limit for that reward.
Walking a Fine Line with Funding Goals
Crowdfunding can be a tremendous resource for getting a start-up off the ground, but you need to be
realistic in your funding goals. You can’t necessarily expect to raise $1 million in 60 days. Even
highly visible political campaigns would have trouble doing that using similar social network
Your campaign period (Goal Days) should match the Goal Amount; a longer period is required for a larger funding amount, and shorter period may be acceptable for a smaller funding amount.
Things to Remember!
- When writing about you and your project, be yourself! Passion and excitement are infectious, so communicate yours at every stage.
- FundaGeek projects are about more than money. They’re about engaging a like minded group of people around an idea and bringing it to life together. Don’t plead for help or beg for money, instead invite participation and involvement.
- Begin by defining your project. Develop a strategic message about your project and deliver it upfront. What are you raising funds to do? Having a focused and well-defined project with a clear beginning and end is vital. Be specific with your goal. Take your time. Choose your funding goal. Calculate your budget: what’s the minimum amount of funding you’ll need to complete your project? Did you include, besides the actual costs you will incur in completing your project, the PayPal fees (around 3%) and FundaGeek fees (5% or 9%) that will be deducted from a successfully funded project before you receive the funds? You must also calculate and include in the goal amount the actual cost you will incur in fulfilling your required rewards to your backers. For an example of how you can calculate your Goal Amount click HERE. Assess your network: FundaGeek is not a magical source of money; outreach comes from the creator’s own efforts and begins with his or her community.
- Figure out how much money you need to complete the project as promised (while considering how much funding you think you can generate), and select an amount close to that.
- Rewards are what backers receive in exchange for pledging to a project. Every project’s primary rewards should be things associated with the project itself. Rewards ensure backers will benefit from a project just as much as its creator (i.e., they get cool stuff that they helped make possible!). Provide rewards that people want.
- Shoot a video. Rule #1 for FundaGeek videos: make one! There are few things more important to a quality FundaGeek project than video. Videos make projects infinitely more compelling, and you don’t have to be a video expert to make a good one. Simply be personable and talk about your project. Put yourself in front of the camera for a few minutes so that people know who you are; making that personal connection is key. Show people examples of your work and use any fun visuals you can think of. Shout it from the rooftops.
Now that you’re ready to tackle your project profile and take steps toward its completion, please take a look at our Simple Steps for Project Owners document available HERE and our Promoting Your Project document HERE.