Telling Your Crowd Funding Story
When writing your crowd funding proposal or application copy, and creating the crowdfunding pitch essentials needed to raise money from far-flung like-minded supporters, the key is organizing and writing a great narrative, with a compelling presentation.
Today over 1,000 online platforms like “gofundme,” “Kickstarter,” “Indiegogo,” “RocketHub” deliver $10 billion in critical funding to over 22,000 projects and causes each year—and the numbers are increasing. After you’ve picked the right crowd funding site for your project and done your homework on rewards, promotions, and incentives that work for your audience of contributors, you can write the pitch.
Key Elements of a Crowd Funding Proposal
Crowdfunding proposals are distinguished from other fundraising pitches primarily by:
- The nature of the presentation medium (far-reaching worldwide web platforms).
- The vastness of the audience (which is virtually anybody anywhere on the planet).
- Low contribution amounts (supporters can usually give any amount they can afford).
- Rewards or incentives offered to contributors (as opposed to fees, interest, or equity).
- The fact that each proposal is uniquely interesting, moving, or compelling.
Given these distinctions, it’s important to think through your crowdfunding pitch/presentation carefully. What are the key elements of a crowd funding proposal or pitch?
Your pitch will consist primarily of three components:
- A written narrative explaining your project.
- An accompanying video featuring you, which allows potential contributors to get a sense of who you are, your passion, heart, personality, etc.
- A defined program of rewards or incentives for contributors—designed to motivate supporters and engage them as participants in the enterprise.
The Crowd Funding Proposal Pitch or Narrative
Gaining potential contributors’ confidence and enthusiasm requires a well-developed and very thoughtful narrative, one crafted appropriately for the subject, the audience, and the platform.
A good crowdfunding proposal narrative anticipates and answers readers’ questions while telling the project’s story. If you leave readers wondering about pertinent issues they’ll lose interest. They won’t engage. Put yourself in their position—what would you have to know to feel great about clicking the “contribute” button?
Key questions to answer as you write include those about the project:
- What is the project, and why are you doing it?
- What is its purpose and objective?
- What’s unique about the project? Why does that matter?
- Why is completing this project important to the community?
- Why is the project’s successful outcome worth it to contributors?
Questions about you:
- Who are you, and why is the project important to you?
- What is your role in producing the project and governing its outcome?
- Who else is directly involved in managing or undertaking the project?
- What of your experience (or that of your team) will help complete the project successfully?
- What incentive/motivation do you have to get it done? What moves you to make it happen?
- How do we (contributors) know that you will follow through, work diligently, and use the funds effectively?
Questions about mechanics:
- What is your funding goal, how will funds be used?
- How do we know your funding goal is sufficient to fully accomplish the project/mission?
- Have you raised any funds already? Are you partially funding the project yourself?
- What happens if you raise more money than your stated goal? How will additional funds be used?
- What is the project timeline? Is the completion date estimated or fixed?
- What factors affect the completion date, what contingencies or unknowns are involved?
- How will you measure project results and progress?
- How will you keep the public and your contributors informed about your ongoing project development and progress.
- What communication or reporting will continue after the project is complete and the goal attained?
Questions about rewards and incentives:
- What rewards or incentives are you offering to contributors?
- How do the rewards work?
- What are the conditions of receiving a reward?
The written narrative should be clear and succinct, not rambling, confused or aimless. E.g., your project description is better if it’s under 50 words.
When telling your story and pitching your project ideas remember that you’re appealing to large numbers of widely diverse people for funds. So, stay focused, organized, transparent, and honest. Speak directly and with meaning and purpose. Avoid misleading statements, especially about the facts and your intentions. Your words, posture, and honesty are what make people trust you. Demonstrate confidence in your program and ideas and yourself, tempered with appropriate modesty and humility. Your crowdfunding page should allow readers to understand who you are without pretense.
Use Great Images — As a complement to your video, pepper the narrative copy with appropriate photos and other images to enhance and add a little depth and color to your words. These images can often convey what the words can’t. Eye-catching, appealing pictures, screenshots, and action shots depicting your project—and the people involved—bring your crowdfunding home page to life. As feasible, images should reveal, communicate, and reinforce the project’s key ideas and features. In crowdfunding narratives an image is truly worth a thousand words—quickly and effectively illustrating your points and ideas.
Use Catchy Headlines — Well-placed, descriptive headlines segment your content and improve your online narrative’s organization. Keep sections fairly short to help readers avoid getting bogged down in unrelenting text. Online readers are naturally impatient, so efficient, well-organized text (with a good dose of white space) works best to attract and keep readers’ attention.
High-Profile Endorsements — Securing the recommendation/support of independent individuals or organizations that your audience respects, trusts, and finds credible—especially people noteworthy for special knowledge or experience in your project area—is a real plus. Their testimony and dedication to your cause/purpose strengthens your message. Such 3rd-party endorsements can be more effective if your crowdfunding page also features a short video of the endorser reiterating and explaining why they believe your project is worthy of support.
The Value of Your Crowd Funding Proposal Narrative — Organizing and writing your crowdfunding narrative is a valuable exercise. It requires you to closely examine the plausibility and merits of your project—and all aspects of the program. Developing a crowd funding proposal narrative and well-designed page is your chance to jumpstart your worthwhile idea with an infusion of cash, simultaneously test broad public reaction to your ideas, and avoid the more cumbersome and elusive pursuit of start-up investor funds. This helps you gage how to approach future rounds of project funding and lay the foundation for doing so.
Crowdfunding lets you test the appeal of your project proposal or business idea and affords you opportunities for success, recognition, and public support that traditional funding paths do not. With crowdfunding, your idea doesn’t have to flounder while waiting for a small group of big-money types to recognize the merit of your vision. Instead, your crowdfunding page reaches millions of potential supporters who judge your ideas’ worthiness from a different—and perhaps more grounded—perspective. For a small contribution they can participate in your program’s success and make a difference.
Respect Your Audience — But, to work on platforms like “gofundme,” “Kickstarter,” “Indiegogo,” “RocketHub,” your crowdfunding presentation must still be interesting, thorough, substantive, and persuasive. You can’t expect success or a flood of backers if all you do is casually fill out an online crowdfunding application on the fly. You have to take it seriously, and respect the audience, if you expect them to take interest in your proposal and take you seriously. To stand out, your crowdfunding page and narrative must be done exceptionally well—which requires dedication and effort.
You want your crowd funding proposal narrative to shine. It has to stand out like a beacon, not pale in comparison to the many other worthy projects competing for funding. Give potential supporters the clarity they need to say “yes,” instead of moving on.