Do you want to finance your education and finally to have the money to pay your courses, masters and even a program to work abroad? If the answer is “yes” you should consider doing a Student Crowdfunding Campaign.
But how is it how does it work? Where to start your project and how to raise the money you need?
We answered all the doubts about how to create and, of course, all the best practices for you to succeed with a Student Crowdfunding Campaign.
Click in any title above to go into a specific part of the guide you want to read.
📢 Part 1 – Crowdfunding for education: an overview
📍 Why should you use crowdfunding to fund your internship abroad or study program?
Alternative forms of financing are capitalising on the decreasing public trust in traditional financial institutions and services. There has been a marked boom in the use of crowdfunding in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. With an industry worth of over 10bn that continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down, crowdfunding platforms are an increasingly mainstream means of raising finance.
The crowdfunding model is changing the face of education as we know it. It is providing vital additional funds for students to help cover tuition fees and various projects in a time of unprecedented cuts to education state funding. Donation-based crowdfunding has also revolutionised the means by which alumni can donate to UK universities by making it more efficient and transparent.
To use an example, in the UK the commodification of learning has led to rampant profiteering whereby vice-chancellors’ average pay now exceeds 275,000 while nearly a half of British students struggle to get by with an average weekly food spend of just 24.32. Departments are closing, academic staff are being axed on an unprecedented scale, and tuition fees continue to spiral out of control. In the US, a familiar theme of underfunding and cuts defines higher education policy.
As well as worrying about whether or not they’ll be able to cobble enough money together to buy essential groceries for the week, students are compounded by fears over travel costs and being able to afford course materials and books. An inadequate policy agenda that fails to provide sufficient support has left young people saddled with huge financial pressures and anxieties during what ought to be their most formative years.
The consequence of such pressure is that many students, particularly those from low-income families, are falling by the wayside. An inability to be able to cover tuition fees, accommodation, transportation, food, child care and books and resources means we are seeing a significant number of disadvantaged students quit university before they graduate.
With the price of education and living costs continuing on their seemingly never ending upward trajectory, students are increasingly forced to think outside the box and are turning to alternative forms of finance in order to plug the gap.
Why use crowdfunding for education?
It’s an unfortunate truth that a higher education degree is as synonymous with accruing large swathes of personal debt nowadays as it is achieving academic excellence and hardwork (if not more so, particularly in the UK and US). Grappling with sky high tuition fees and living costs has become part and parcel of the student experience. But for those prepared to get a bit creative, crowdfunding for education represents a legitimate and effective means of raising money to cover costs and ease the burden that comes with studying.
While a part-time job might work for some students, if it encroaches on study time and results in you overstretching yourself then it could end up jeopardising your future. Scholarships and bursaries represent a great source of funding but are highly competitive and are few and far between. Having generous, monied parents sounds pretty handy, but alas…
But a benevolent Granny who’d love nothing more than to donate 50 to her favourite grandchild? Now you’re onto something. And that’s the great thing about crowdfunding for your education related expenses; not only does it contribute to the betterment of your own personal development and to society at large, but it’s a communally led effort working to achieve something positive.
Here are 6 reasons why you might want to take advantage of this groundbreaking tool:
#1 To raise money for your education expenses
Crowdfunding allows students to define their own future. Not having enough cash to afford essential course materials or groceries for the week doesn’t have to define your student experience. Students can use a specific crowdfunding for education to raise money for any educated related expenses such as for books, fees and accommodation.
#2 To intern abroad
Students are increasingly attracted to internships abroad. Like study abroad programmes, they offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and environment. Whilst you learn the local customs and language, you will also be gaining essential career experience that will help you in future employment. It really is the best of both worlds! If you’re not sure what opportunities there are for you out there, try this international work abroad program that contains internships and full-time employment opportunities.
If you’re not sure what direction you want to go in, you should consider career coaching. By matching you with a personal coach, you can receive one-on-one, expert support to help you improve your CV and LinkedIn profile. Your coach can also conduct practise interviews with you. We recommend this service for top international coaches who’ve spent years cultivating relationships with top employers and companies.
#3 To fund your study abroad dreams
If you’re a student looking to fund your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity abroad but are coming up financially short, you will inevitably ask, “Does this actually work?” Yes!
#4 Crowdfund for specific educational endeavours
Creative projects, volunteer trips, special sporting occasions are all important events that make the university experience so special. They all cost money too, sadly. Combining social media with your crowdfunding efforts can spread awareness about your project and make it economically feasible.
#5 To finance not-for-profit and charitable efforts
Universities provide a fantastic platform for students to improve local communities through volunteering and various organisations. By tapping into the willing investors of the public, young people can incorporate interested and altruistic parties in the process.
#6 To raise money for important research
With typical funding sources being squeezed, researchers are increasingly turning to crowdfunding to get their projects off the ground. Traditional funding bodies are becoming increasingly risk-averse, which means the allocation of grants tend not to go to more unconventional work. It also engages academics with the public to help improve general awareness.
Anyone can do it!
You don’t have to be loud or brash to successfully crowdfund. Quite often, you’ll find that it’s a great way to connect with people who really want to help and empower you on your journey. The prevalent line of thinking is that everyone is judging everything you do. Far more likely is that people are interested in what you are trying to achieve and will be inspired by your story.
Online fundraising is often stigmatised as just being a dolled-up version of e-begging but this lack of distinction is damaging. It only serves to hurts those with legitimate and urgent needs who pass up social funding because they don’t believe their cause is worth other people’s time and money. Thousands of education-related projects have been successful as a result of crowdfunding efforts and as it solidifies its position as a mainstream alternative finance, we can look forward to millions more in the future.
📍 What are the differences between student crowdfunding and crowdfunding?
One of the first mistakes students might do when they start a Student Crowdfunding campaign, is thinking that it works exactly the same as a standard crowdfunding campaign. And guess what? It’s not the case!
In a classic crowdfunding campaign, people or companies collect money to develop a product or launch a business. By producing something concrete, it’s easy to create content to promote your campaign, to find rewards related to your product and to get external backers. But this also requires more details, more communication and, essentially, more time. It’s one thing to do a crowdfunding campaign for a product, and another thing to run a student crowdfunding campaign for your personal goals like your tuition fees.
In this article, we will talk about some key aspects of a crowdfunding campaign and show the important differences that makes the Student Crowdfunding campaigns distinct, so you can avoid basic mistakes and make your campaign a success.
#1 PROJECT DESCRIPTION OF YOUR STUDENT CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN
The first big difference is the project itself, which is portrayed in your project description.
In classic crowdfunding campaigns, professional teams are in charge of the campaign — not students — and they run these campaigns to develop products, to launch their restaurant, to finance a music album, or a non-profit organization…etc. To introduce their project, they have to be very precise and descriptive in order to make an impact and get the trust of potential backers. And they have the means to do it with great videos, pictures, complicated illustrations and really long descriptions.
On the other hand, when you launch a student crowdfunding campaign, the product is yourself, and all the benefits of the campaign are intended for you and your personal goal. So your description has to be more personal and inspirational. You should talk more about yourself, your past, your journey, what you want to achieve and how the backers will be part of your adventure by contributing to your campaign. A simple video of yourself in front of the camera helps enormously to establish this connection.
Because this description is more personal, there is a risk of making it too emotional which is something you should try to avoid. You are not begging for money or asking for charity. As a classic crowdfunding campaign, your objective is to motivate the investors and show that your project is strong, but in a different way.
To sum up, a student crowdfunding campaign description is:
- simpler in its structure (you don’t have a professional team running your campaign)
- less formal, more personal and intimate, without being tearful
- the most important element of your project! It tells who you are, it’s your product!
#2 REWARDS : HERE IS THE MAIN DIFFERENCE
The biggest difference is definitely the rewards.
In classic crowdfunding, the rewards are pretty simple, they are directly related to the product or business people are trying to finance. For example, someone who does a campaign to finance the production of a new bluetooth speaker will mainly offer a discount on the product, whilst someone who wants to finance the publication of his book will offer a special edition, and others will directly offer shares of their company. It’s an easy way to find money and have guaranteed orders.
Don’t forget to thank your Backers.
“Remember, people will not finance your project for your rewards, but for you and your future. The rewards are only here as an incentive, a little something extra that entices them donate 30€ instead of 15€.”
In student crowdfunding, finding your rewards might be more complicated. It requires that you be more creative because instead of promoting a product, you are promoting yourself. So, you need to search for things you like to do, things that are easy for you to produce, and that people will still find nice and interesting. The more it’s linked to you and your personal project, the stronger it is.
The goal of your campaign is to raise money to help you in your student project, so the last thing you want is to offer rewards that have a high cost to produce (or to send). In classic crowdfunding, this is not as big of an issue: the whole idea is to sell a product, so it’s normal that the rewards have a cost. In student crowdfunding, you have to do your best to reduce that cost as much as possible. Remember, people will not finance your project for your rewards, but rather for you and your future. The rewards are only here as an incentive, a little something extra that entices them donate 30€ instead of 15€. For example, if you offer to send a postcard from your Erasmus country with a nice message plus a list of the 10 best places to visit in this city, people will find it really personal and might choose this 30€ reward instead of just giving you 15€ symbolically.
To sum-up, student crowdfunding campaign rewards are:
- more symbolic
- more personal
- free (or almost)
- more creative and complicated to find
#3 BACKERS : YOU HAVE TO FIND THE RIGHT ONES!
The types of backers are also different because they do not donate for the same reasons.
As we said earlier, even if you offer rewards, your backers will donate money to your student project because they believe in you and want to help you achieve your goals, not because they want a trendy waterproof bluetooth speaker with 22 hours of battery life. Therefore, backers won’t come to donate to your project spontaneously, you have to go find them!
Logically, you will attract less people and you will have to rely more on your personal networks, as explained in more detail here. But your backers will give you more money than what they get in return, and this is the main difference. Because student crowdfunding is based on solidarity – not charity – your backers will feel more involved in your project, so they might share your campaign with their own network, more so than classic crowdfunding investors. This is also why you have to keep your backers informed of your project and what you do next, because they don’t want to just receive a product and not hear from you anymore. If you maintain the relationship you’ve started with them, they will really appreciate it, and will be more willing to help you with future endeavors.
Student crowdfunding backers are part of your project, and will help you even more if you show them you’re grateful.
To sum up, student crowdfunding campaign backers are:
- not falling from the sky, you have to go find them yourself!
- less numerous
- more connected to you and your project
- more likely to help you communicate about your campaign
- from personal networks, the first ones especially
#4 MANAGEMENT & COMMUNICATION: THE SAME SPIRIT
No difference with this one!
Of course, you won’t have the same means as a professional team to create a communication plan with an awesome video and to manage hundreds of deliveries for your backers. But you won’t need to reach this level anyway.
The idea of student crowdfunding is to mimic the concept of classic crowdfunding, with the form of the project page and also the communication of the campaign. Just because you might be alone in running your campaign – no pressure – you don’t need to have something as perfect as what you can see on Kicksarter. But have a look at the best practices, get some inspiration, and adapt it to a more realistic and smaller student crowdfunding campaign, using easy tools for your communication as listed in this article.
To sum-up, student crowdfunding campaign management & communication is:
- the same as a normal crowdfunding campaign
- less complicated
- adapted to the project owner: a student
#5 FINANCIAL GOAL : KEEP IT REAL
When you crowdfund to launch a product, your financial goal is the minimum amount of money you need to start the production. If you don’t raise that minimum amount, all the money goes back to the backers.
Set a realistic goal
“A smaller amount will seem more realistic to reach so your backers will be more likely to donate, and you will feel more motivated”
Student crowdfunding is different than classic crowdfunding at its core. If you run a campaign to help you finance your tuition fees or your semester abroad, and you don’t manage to raise the full amount, you will still be able to raise the remainder by getting a loan, having a student job on the side or with the help of your parents. That is why we use the KEEP-IT-ALL model.
With the Keep-it-all model, even if you don’t reach the 100%, you keep the money you managed to raise. This money will help you achieve your student goal in one way or another. This is why we also advise you to not set a high financial objective for your campaign. A smaller amount will seem more realistic to reach, so your backers will be more likely to donate and you will feel more motivated. It’s more motivating to reach 40% of your goal after one week rather than 4%. Especially for high cost studies, student crowdfunding will get you a part of the money you need for your project, not everything. Take the time to explain the whole budget of the project, and what share of this amount you want to raise via crowdfunding.
To sum up, student crowdfunding campaigns have a financial goal that is:
- lower and more realistic
- complementary to your main source of funding
- all in your pocket (in the most of the crowdfunding platforms) – even if you don’t reach 100% of it.
That’s it, you know the main differences between student crowdfunding and classic crowdfunding. All you have to do now is doing it. To create and run a campaign is without any risk, you will just invest some of your own time, and will get donations in exchange, plus some significant and useful skills like communication, project management, selling, content creation, entrepreneurship.
💰 Part 2 – How to raise money
📍 The essential crowdfunding checklist to raise money for your education
Heard of crowdfunding for your studies but don’t know where to start? We put together a proven crowdfunding checklist for all would-be student crowdfunders.
The checklist is split into four Parts: Pre-launch, Launch, During and the End.
- Pre-launch: How to effectively plan a successful crowdfunding campaign
- Launch: How to launch your crowdfunding campaign and jump start donations
- During: How to manage and keep promoting your crowdfunding campaign
- The End: What to do when your campaign ends
#1 Pre-launch: Everything to do before launching your campaign and asking for donations
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
We all love being spontaneous, but preparation really cannot be missed when it comes to crowdfunding.
Spending time preparing for your crowdfunding campaign is essential to your campaign’s success.
It is definitely not a case of posting a link online and hoping people will see this and donate to you. You have to work hard to ensure every aspect of your campaign tells people your story and why they should support you.
This is the longest but most important part of the crowdfunding checklist, so if you are thinking of crowdfunding for your studies, make sure you read it through carefully.
Set your crowdfunding goal
When setting a goal for your crowdfunding campaign you need to think through the cost of your study programme carefully and jot down each part (cost of weekend intensive Spanish course = $500, accommodation for the weekend = $150). The goal needs to be both useful to you (so you can actually fund your studies) and realistic enough for you to actually reach.
Tell your story
Now that you have the goal set, it’s time for the most important part of your campaign: telling your story.
Your description of your crowdfunding campaign should include all the essential points: who you are, why you are crowdfunding, why this study programme matters to you, what exactly you need the money for, and how are you going to reach your goal.
You need to tell an honest and convincing story, and persuade people to support your campaign.
Set your Rewards
Crowdfunding are rewards-based platform, meaning that in exchange for donations you offer a Reward based on your skillset and interests.
Good at cooking? Reward 1 could be a Pdf of your top 10 recipes, Reward 2 could be a Skype cooking class where you make your favourite tagine, and Reward 3 a dinner party prepared by you for a group of 5.
It really depends on what you’re personally interested in. Don’t underestimate your talents and downplay your skills – no one expects you to be Gordon Ramsey, they just want to see you make a commitment to your backers. Get creative and see where it can take you!
Remember, backers can also just make a donation without purchasing a reward.
Create a Facebook page dedicated to your project
Creating a Facebook page dedicated to your crowdfunding campaign is an excellent idea, and you can create this as soon as you know you will be crowdfunding for your studies. You can post photos and explain a little about your campaign, and most importantly ask people to like the page and follow your progress. This will lay the groundwork for later on in your campaign when you start reaching out for donations.
Emails – start collecting them. Now.
Instagram DM’s, Tweets, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat – all great forms of social media communication, but still not as good as ‘old-fashioned’ email.
Email is THE NUMBER ONE TOOL in crowdfunding. People are more likely to click on your campaign page through a link you sent them via email, and that means they’re more likely to donate.
Before launching your campaign, you should already start to gather email addresses of your closest friends and family.
Research the right platform
If our handy checklist hasn’t convinced you, then here is a run-down of the other platforms on the crowdfunding market:
Crowdfunding checklist: pick the right platform!
Most platforms charge a commission rate of 5% plus a charge on each payment made to your project.
For instance, if you raise $5000 you will actually receive $4750 minus the commission on each donation.
Secure the first 10%
Before actually launching the campaign, you need to secure your first 10%. The first 3 days of your campaign are essential and your life will be so much easier if you work out where those first donations are coming from before launching. These donations will come from your closest friends and family, so talk to them before hand and ask if you can count on their support – all in exchange for your eternal gratification and a cool Reward!
Plan a marketing schedule for your campaign
Now you have all the essentials, it’s a good idea to plan a marketing schedule for the duration of your campaign. This doesn’t need to be complex; just break down your campaign week by week and jot down when you will send each round of emails. You can also plan when you will post updates on social media, and when you want to start reaching out to other networks.
Plan a launch event
Just because your campaign is online doesn’t mean you should turn your back on the real world.
Planning a launch event for when your campaign goes live is a great opportunity. You can invite your closest friends and family, talk about your campaign and your rewards in a relaxed environment and really set the scene for the campaign. Play some games, eat some food, and tell everyone about the campaign and how much their support means to you. I guarantee you this will be more effective and memorable than simply posting about it on Facebook.
Launch your campaign!
#2 Launch: How to launch your crowdfunding campaign and start getting donations
Once your project has been validated by your personal crowdfunding coach, you’re ready to launch your campaign.
Pick your launch date wisely
You really don’t want to be managing a crowdfunding campaign whilst swatting up on the Spanish Civil War or your French phrasal verbs.
Make sure your schedule is clear of important and stressful events like exams and coursework deadlines, so you can give your crowdfunding campaign the attention it needs.
Host a launch party
Just because your crowdfunding campaign is online doesn’t mean you can’t – and shouldn’t – take it to the streets. We recommend getting your campaign off with a bang by hosting a launch party. Invite your first round of backers – your friends and family – round for some music, games and a toast to your campaign. It’s a great opportunity to talk to them about the campaign and ask them to write down their email addresses.
Send out your first round of emails
Once you have clicked launch you should be sending out your first round of emails to your closest network – friends and family again. Include a photo of yourself and the link to your project.
Break the 0%
Getting those first donations on Launch Day is essential. Remember, the majority of donations come in the first 3 days and last 3 days of your campaign. Really capitalize on the excitement of launching your campaign to encourage backers to donate. Running a successful crowdfunding campaign really is a snowball effect; it starts small, but grows exponentially.
#3 During your campaign: How to keep motivated and keep promoting your crowdfunding campaign
Some say running a crowdfunding campaign is a lot like riding a roller-coaster, full of ebbs and flows, ups and downs, with donations flooding in to begin with, flattening out in the middle and then rising quickly at the very end.
Having not been on a rollercoaster since watching Final Destination 3 in 1999, I cannot comment on the accuracy of this analogy. But I can confirm that you need to be prepared for donations to slow down in the middle of your campaign. This doesn’t mean that you stop asking though. The middle part of your campaign is where you’ll lay the ground work to get that last flood of donations in the last 3 days.
So how do you effectively manage the middle part of your crowdfunding campaign?
Track donations and emails on an excel sheet
You need to keep track of everyone you email, the Rewards they purchase and the donations they make. This will help you when it comes to sending out those Rewards after your campaign is over, and will also help you chase up those people who said they would donate but have not yet done so.
Update your social media
You should be posting regular updates about your campaign on Facebook and any other social media platform you use. When making these updates remember to include photos and a link to your campaign page. You could also decide to spend 5 days pushing each of your Rewards, for example:
In Week 1, post a picture of the handmade small painting you are offering as your $25 Reward and ask people to purchase it
…and in Week 3 push your $100 Reward of a home-cooked meal for 3
Keep thanking people throughout your campaign for their donations and encourage them to share with a simple message. e.g. Thank you all so much for your help so far! Please share my project to your own Facebook pages and help me reach more people 🙂
Start to widen your search
Now that you have your first 35% it’s time to start widening your search and reaching out to people beyond your immediate circle. That means contacting school organisations, sports clubs, alumni networks and local newspapers or blogs. By demonstrating the success you’ve already had you can spread your story to more people and generate a greater buzz around the campaign. Find out more about contacting local media and organisations here.
With your money on its way, you can focus your attention on fulfilling your promise to the Backers who purchased a Reward. First things first, get organised! Create a simple excel sheet with the names and addresses of each backer, which Reward they purchased, when you plan to finish making it and when you can send it. Next you need to update your backers by email and let them know when they should expect their Reward.
Did you under-estimate how long it would take to make 100 hand-crafted scented candles? That’s okay! Just make sure you let people know as quickly as possible and manage their expectations. No one will mind as long as you keep them updated.
Thanking your Backers is essential!
#4 The End: Thanking donors and receiving your money – what to do when your campaign ends
Hold your breath and count to ten…
Once your campaign is over (45 days after launch), give yourself a huge pat on the back and congratulate yourself on putting in all that effort.
Now that it’s all over, there are a few more things you need to do before you can close the final chapter on your crowdfunding saga.
Manners maketh man. Make sure you say thank you to everyone who donated and supported your campaign.
Make a Rewards schedule and update your donors
The secret to a successful crowdfunding campaign is preparation and determination. You have to put in the effort before launch, and make sure you don’t get disheartened during the inevitable lag of donations in the middle of your campaign.
It’s not an easy fix to your financial difficulties, but if you decide to run a campaign it can be an excellent way to build a strong professional and personal network. Running a successful campaign is challenging, and this is actually one of its benefits. The skills you learn and the time you invest in financing your future give you invaluable experience to communicate to future employers, proving that when faced with a financial obstacle to your goals, you were able to overcome and excel.
📍 How to find crowdfunding backers and fundraise your studies
Your project has been validated and is online. Bravo! Now what? You may wonder where you’ll find your first donors, and who’s going to finance your crowdfunding project? You spent hours choosing rewards, writing a compelling description and making a video to present your project. But what’s the use of all that if nobody sees it? It’s time to find your crowdfunding backers”
It would be a shame if after so much effort your project remains at 0%. Don’t worry – we’re here to give you some advice.
No – the Backers are not going to arrive on their own, you need to go out there and get them!
#1 FAMILY CIRCLE
WHO? Your parents, your brother, your sister – anyone! Why not get back in touch with that cousin you used to make prank phone calls with when you were 13? How about that great aunt who gave you wool gloves with daisies for Christmas a few years ago? Or your dog? (No, not your dog).
WHEN? During holidays, reunions, family gatherings…
HOW? This is the time to show off your talent as a speaker. Prepare a nice PowerPoint to explain your project or showcase your video. You can do this between cheese and dessert. But not after, ok? Digestion comes after dessert and it’s not easy to engage people’s attention once they’re in nap mode.
For example – during the gathering, you could put together a list of everyone’s emails and send them a message with the link to your campaign a few days afterwards. To make this process even easier, we’ve already created some email templates for you – find them here.
By reaching out to your family circle you should easily get your first 20%-30% of donations. Remember – the first week of your campaign is the most important!
#2 FRIENDS CIRCLE
HOW? Listen to Marie du Deffand – prepare a personalized message to all your old friends. Be sincere and clearly communicate your project because this is the key to your project’s success. Your crowdfunding campaign is not just about funding, it’s about sharing YOUR story with your audience.
WHEN? This is why it is important to consider your network of potential Backers before launching your campaign. Consideration is important. You’re relying on a link to an existing relationship. You, the promoter, know that the backer is not expecting a return on investment but becomes involved in your project because they believe in you.
By effectively reaching this second circle, your project should be able to reach 50%.
#3 GET CROWDFUNDING BACKERS ON SOCIAL NETWORKS
Facebook is useful too! (And other social networks)
Your rewards could be offering a private cello concert, yoga session, a vegan cooking course, or even a personalized caricature. Having trouble thinking of reward ideas? Check out this article.
WHO? People who share your passions!
In any case, the interest groups that exist on Facebook and other social platforms give you a great opportunity to introduce yourself and promote your project with people who share the same passions as you.
HOW? By creating your own hashtag or customized bit.ly link makes it easier to share with your social network and spread your project across multiple platforms. You can even share these with your supporters before the launch of your campaign, so they can follow the progress once it’s live.
Have you ever heard the saying “Success breeds success”? The same applies to your crowdfunding campaign – the more Backers you have, the more Backers you will get.
One of the biggest challenges you will face during your crowdfunding campaign is identifying the Backers who will help you reach 20%. If each Backer shares your project with their network, the number of potential Backers multiplies exponentially! (Yes, crowdfunding is also for those who like Maths).
Best of luck on getting crowdfunding backers on your campaign!
😁 Part 3 – Best practices to promote your campaign
📍 How to crowdfund: overcome the fear of asking for donations
You’ve fine-tuned your campaign, created a video, added rewards, and are ready to launch – what happens next? It’s time to promote your campaign, contact your Backers and start to get those crowdfunding donations. If the thought of asking people for money makes you feel anxious, embarrassed, break out in a cold sweat or all of the above, you’re in the right place. We totally get it – asking for money is uncomfortable, nerve-racking and can sometimes make us feel like we’re begging. Take a deep breath and don’t worry – we’re here to help you successfully learn how to crowdfund.
Crowdfunding is based on two fundamental aspects – the power of social sharing and people’s desires to help friends and family. When a campaign is shared via email or on social platforms, the crowdfunder is essentially asking their network of friends and family for a crowdfunding donation. Though it seems straightforward enough, the prospect of asking others for money can be intimidating, complicated and awkward. Part of this can be attributed to cultural stigmas and taboos where personal finances are considered private and conversations centered on money are viewed as impolite. Some people are afraid of possibly damaging relationships by asking for donations, are afraid of being ‘annoying’ or are plain afraid of being rejected. For others, approaching people outside their personal network who have more financial means can bring up their own insecurities about money.
The key to overcoming the fear of asking for donations is to embrace this aspect of crowdfunding by adjusting your mindset. You don’t have to be completely fearless because chances are you may always feel a little bit uncomfortable asking others for money. Think of crowdfunding as a two way street — in exchange for a contribution, you are offering people an opportunity to engage in social change and participate in something you are passionate about. This component of solidarity is what differentiates student crowdfunding from traditional crowdfunding. Instead of crowdfunding to develop something concrete like a product or launch a business, you are promoting yourself and your educational goals. Some find this particularly challenging as they are unsure of how to promote their campaign in a positive light, especially when there are so many other causes that may seem more ‘worthy’ of donations. But, by becoming an advocate for yourself and for your campaign, you will stop apologizing and will become more confident in the merit of your cause.
Now, maybe you’re thinking – sure, all this sounds great in theory, but how does this help my crowdfunding campaign? To help you get started, we gathered tips from identified the five most helpful insights they shared. Ready? Let’s go!
#1 Be Prepared: Do your homework and choose the right Backers
Make a list of people you think would be interested in contributing to your campaign, starting with those in your immediate network, followed by those in your outer networks (professional colleagues, relevant organizations, schoolmates, community members, etc.). Do a little research to get to know your audience – what would be the best method to contact them to promote your campaign: in person, with a phone call, through social media, or email? Put yourself in their shoes – what would motivate you to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign? How does it feel when you donate to someone else’s cause? This is the opportunity you are offering to potential backers. Approach your networks with purpose and keep in mind that people remember the why of your cause and not the what.
#2 Master Your Story: Confidently pitch your campaign to get more crowdfunding donations
Before you begin asking for donations, you must be able to clearly define what your campaign is about and what you are asking for. Preparing a succinct narrative will not only make it easier to reach out to your network, but it will also show potential backers that you are genuinely committed to your campaign. Use visual tools or create a video to help explain your purpose or ask a willing friend to invest some time in helping you practice your pitch.
#3 Be Prepared to Hear the Word NO: How move on from rejection
Fear of rejection can be a major source of anxiety for many, but in the end, remember that no is just a word and it is an inevitable part of the crowdfunding journey. Think of rejection as an indicator of success because it shows you’re making progress towards your ultimate goal; hearing no gives you more opportunities to find someone who will say yes. Don’t stress too much– the more you ask, the easier it’ll get.
#4 It’s Not Personal: Don’t judge those who decline to contribute
If someone declines your ask, it is not a reflection on you nor does it mean that they are not sympathetic to your cause. There could be a million reasons why they are not able to donate and it’s important to keep in mind that you are not entitled to anyone else’s money. Even though they are unable to contribute at that moment, it doesn’t mean they can’t help in other ways. Ask if they know of anyone who might be interested in your campaign or if they would be willing to spread the word by sharing it with their networks – you may be surprised by their response!
#5 Show Gratitude: Don’t forget to say thank you!
Even if a person is unable to contribute, a simple thank you goes a long way maintaining a relationship. For those who do donate, offering rewards are a way to show your gratitude and can also serve as another way to keep your campaign at the front of the Backer’s mind.
The more comfortable you get talking about your campaign and putting yourself out there, the easier asking for donations will get. The cost of not asking is far greater than a rejection, because it undermines any efforts towards your ultimate goal. Remember to be positive and try to find the silver linings in every interaction — each time you reach out to a potential Backer, you create the opportunity to receive meaningful feedback, improve your storytelling, and spread your awareness of your campaign. We all have to start somewhere – don’t let self-doubt sabotage your campaign and just go for it!
📍 Promote your campaign with a crowdfunding video!
Boost your project’s chances of success with a crowdfunding video!
There’s no doubt about the effectiveness of a crowdfunding video to promote your campaign. This is your project’s window to the world and is the first impression your Backers will get of your campaign. In fact, projects with a video are 20% more likely to succeed than those without one.
While there are other factors such as a strong campaign description and consistent promotion plan that will contribute to the success of your project, a campaign video is one of the most powerful ways to tell your story.
Lights – Camera – Action!
#1 Crowdfunding Video Basics
Research shows that the most engaging videos are usually less than three minutes long. If your video is too long, viewers might lose interest and not finish watching.
On average, it takes a person about 15 seconds to decide if they will watch a video or not. Give it a try – look up campaigns on Kickstarter or Indiegogo and watch a video. Pay attention to yourself – did you get bored quickly or did you watch it until the end? If you watched the complete video, ask yourself why. If you didn’t make it all the way through, at what point did you get bored? Why? Keep your responses in mind when creating your own video.
#2 Content – What should you include in your video?
Crowdfunding is about people and connections. Your Backers want to know what, and who, they’re supporting. The great thing about making a crowdfunding video is that you have the ability to show and tell.
- Introduce yourself and tell your story. What are you doing? Why are you doing it?
- Show us your life – your campus and you hard at work!
- What is your objective?
- Tell your Backers how supporting this project add value to your education
- Be transparent – what will the funds be used for? (i.e. Tuition, school materials, student housing, exchange program fees, etc.)
- Finish with a strong call-to-action (CTA) – this is a direct statement to your Backers asking them to do something. Think about what would you like them to do after watching your video. Do you want them to donate? To share your project with their network? Let them know! Make sure your CTA is clear and straightforward.
Do’s and Don’t’s of crowdfunding videos.
#3 The Do’s and Don’ts of Crowdfunding Videos
If this is your first time making a campaign video, we recommend to keep the following in mind when talking about your project:
- DO: Speak directly to the camera – this helps create the human connection with your viewers
- DO: Be genuine and honest, people will be more willing to donate if they feel like they can trust you
- DO: Show your passion! If you believe in your campaign, so will your Backers!
When making your video, there are some things you’ll want to you’ll want to steer clear of as they could hurt your chances of success:
- DON’T: Be negative – avoid talking about what will happen if you aren’t successful.
- DON’T: Beg for money – you only need to request openly and honestly. Avoid phrases like “even a dollar” at all costs!
#4 The Ask
Asking for money can be an uncomfortable experience – we totally get it and you’re not alone! A video can help you to reduce your ask-anxiety because you only need to ask once n your video. This way, you can focus on directing people TO your page rather than worrying about asking for money on each social media post, or with each email you send.
A majority of your future communications promoting your project will focus on getting people to watch your video. Your video will serve to convert these simple “viewers” into “Backers”. Don’t forget to be humble, positive, and grateful. Most importantly, don’t forget to thank people in your video for the pledges they are about to make!
#5 Free Tools
These days, you can find a variety of free tools to make and edit videos online or through the app store – here are some of our favorites that you can use to create your crowdfunding video:
- Quik – This straightforward video editing program allows you to make quality videos quickly.
- Animoto – Free app available for download on iPhone and Android. Animoto makes video editing quick and simple with straightforward customization options.
- Lightworks – Powerful editing software aimed to create professional quality videos.
- Pexels Videos – This fantastic site offers a variety of free footage that you can download and incorporate into your videos.
To sum up, a crowdfunding video can greatly enhance your campaign’s chances for success because it gives you the opportunity to connect with your Backers in addition to making it easier to promote and share your campaign. By following the tips in this guide, you’ll be on your way to making a stellar video in no time!
Get creative and have some fun!
Get Creative and Have Fun!
📍 Crowdfundings rewards: how to come up with great rewards to fund your goal
Choosing good crowdfunding rewards is essential to a successful campaign.
Crowdfunding is a great way for students to raise the additional funds they need to continue their studies, avoid student loan debt and embark on their dream educational projects. It works by getting a crowd of people excited by your project.
You gather a large group of people – friends, family, colleagues, strangers – around your campaign, tell them about your passion and why you’re motivated to fund this programme, and ask them to donate.
Where most students fall short is here, during ‘The Ask’. For lots of students, overcoming the fear of asking for donations is their biggest obstacle in reaching their goal.
It can be overwhelming to think about asking each backer for donations. That’s why Rewards are so helpful!
By offering your backer something in exchange for their donation, you can expel the feeling of ‘begging’ and work on marketing your rewards instead of asking for money.
Coming up with great crowdfunding rewards is an opportunity for you to be creative and capitalize on your talents.
It also gives Backers the option to choose between making a donation and purchasing a reward. If you come up with some cool rewards, you give your backers an incentive to donate.
So, where to start?
#1 Match your skills
A good cook?
Offer a Skype cooking class or a PDF of your best recipes.
Fluent in German?
Offer a German Skype course, a translation of a document, or a PDF of the essential phrases any tourist needs in Germany.
First of all, take a few moments to think about your skills and how you can apply these to an attractive reward. Start from your degree and studies, and then work backwards to your hobbies and interests. There’s bound to be plenty of useful skills you can offer backers.
#2 Think about your insider knowledge
Everyone loves an insider’s tips on their city.
This is something easy – and fun! – for you to research and produce. Include on a PDF or a google map all your secret spots to go for coffee, brunch, scenic walks or shopping. Think of the top places you would take a date, go for a drink with a friend, go vintage shopping etc. The next time your backer travels to your city they’ll have some great places ready to visit!
Give backers an insider tip of the best bakery in the city.
#3 Digital is easy
Digital rewards are the easiest for you to produce and deliver.
We’re talking about PDF’s of recipes, digital photo postcards, a Skype class, etc. If you offer rewards that involve packing and postage, such as a handmade gift, limit these rewards to 10 or 20. You don’t want to be in a position where you promised 100 people a handmade mug, and now you have to make and post them all.
#4 Live experiences are great
Once you move from digital rewards to IRL experiences, your rewards prices start to rise.
Offering a personalised reward is excellent, as you can charge a lot for it and it won’t take up too much of your time. Limit these rewards in accordance with the time you have on offer.
A live experience could be:
- a tour of your city, where you point out a few sightseeing spots
- a coffee meeting, where you discuss your project
- a presentation, of your project or studies, depending on the interest of the backers
Give your insiders a tour of your city!
#5 Get the gang together
This kind of reward is fantastic, as it’s something you’re probably doing on a weekly basis anyway. Consider organising a party, inviting everyone through a Facebook event and charge them $30 each to attend. You take care of the food and provide some entertainment, and everyone has a great time! This way you take advantage of the group momentum, and raise a large chunk of your donations in one night.
Get the gang together for a big meal.
Pricing your Rewards
So now you have some ideas for rewards, it’s time to think about pricing.
You need to offer a range of prices, so that you can cater for all budgets. It’s helpful to think of specific people in mind when setting your prices. For example, would your best friend be able to afford a reward at $100? Maybe, maybe not. Or perhaps your parents’ close friend is more likely to go for this reward? Think about real people and what you think they’d be able to spend.
We recommend creating rewards for these 7 levels:
That way you provide plenty of choice without overwhelming backers.
Remember that a reward at €150 needs to be more valuable than one at €15, so consider pricing your more personalised rewards at a high price. After all, they’re more special!
Example 1 of Rewards structure:
Let’s look at Marta’s rewards for some inspiration. A HR specialist obsessed with gluten-free pistachio ice cream, she was crowdfunding to study a Master’s degree in Transpersonal Psychology.
As a native Spanish speaker and a passionate cook, she was able to tap into these skills to offer some great Rewards!
Take a look:
€5 – a thank you on my Facebook page
€15 – a personalised thank you electronic card
€25 – tips to build a great CV (so you can land that dream job!)
€50 – Gluten-free and dairy-free recipes (because they’re delicious!)
€75 – Translations from English to Spanish and vice versa, 1500 words max
€100 – Free couchsurfing (especially useful to those of you visiting Madrid in the future!)
€150 – A home-cooked dinner for two (restaurant standard food for you and your friend to show my appreciation!)
Marta successfully raised over €1000
Example 2 of Rewards structure:
Tiffany successfully raised 100% of her €1500 target to study at the Conservatoire of Rome.
Her project was to study music, so her rewards had a music theme too!
€5 – Piccolo – a thank you on my Facebook or blog page
€15 – Medio 1 – A monthly update of my studies (so you can keep up-to-date with my progress)
€25 – Medio 2 – The best pasta recipes (so you can cook like a real Italian!)
€50 – Grande – A weekend guide to Rome: where to eat and visit
€75 – Molto Grande – A video of my first concert in the conservatoire
€100 – Molto *Molto* Grande – A one hour Skype class for violin lessons
€150 – Concerto – a one hour personal recital
Tiffany reached 100% of her target!
Last Tips for your Crowdfunding Rewards:
- Include 7 Rewards: this is the perfect number of Rewards to ensure enough choice, but not too much as to overwhelm your backers
- Start at a low price and finish high: this means there is something for everyone, not excluding the lowest or highest donations
- Include a $25 Reward: this is the most popular Reward level and will attract the most Backers
Crowdfunding rewards are all about applying your skills and creativity. Be confident in your ability to offer something useful and attractive. Since you and your project are unique, your rewards can be too! And remember, think about how you will deliver these rewards once you reach your goal!
📍 7 common crowdfunding mistakes
Have you ever been so excited to go somewhere you haphazardly threw on an outfit only to realize later that your shirt definitely does not match your pants? Yeah — we’ve been there too. Coincidently, we’ve witnessed a similar occurrence in the crowdfunding world with users who rush to publish their campaigns. While we may not be experts in fashion, we do know a little something about crowdfunding. In this post, we’ve rounded up the top seven crowdfunding mistakes users commit – and how to avoid them – so you can create a solid campaign and be on your way to success.
Let’s dive in!
#1 Rushing the Project Creation Process
Of all the crowdfunding mistakes we’ve witnessed, rushing to publish a campaign without taking time to plan it beforehand is the biggest. The pre-launch preparation time is essential to set realistic goals, create a well-developed campaign description, as well as a clear call-to-action.
Setting Unrealistic Goals
Setting a realistic financial target is tricky business. We’ve seen campaigns set high, unrealistic goals as well as projects with low, albeit more attainable goals when they could have aimed higher. Because the needs of each crowdfunder are unique, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula to determine an amount that’s right for you. For more information on goal-setting check out our post for a guideline on determining your financial target.
Develop your Project Description
Your Backers are the keys to your campaign’s success so it’s important to develop your campaign with them in mind. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how your project is relevant to them and why they should support you. Pay attention to the way you structure your story so they can easily understand what you’re trying to accomplish. If your audience understands your objectives and the why behind your campaign, they will support you.
Create a clear Call-to-Action (CTA)
If focused too much on monetary goals, project owners can fall short of communicating a clear CTA to their audience. A well developed CTA will inspire Backers into action. State how much money you want to raise and then ask your audience to donate.
#2 Not including a campaign video
This is another one of those big crowdfunding mistakes you’ll want to avoid, and let’s face it – people are busy. A video is a great tool because it serves as a summary of your campaign for those who don’t have time to read through your project. Videos are more persuasive than text, easy to share on digital platforms and can help you build credibility.
Your video should be short, concise, and with simple language that the general population can understand. An effective crowdfunding video also gives your campaign a personality and makes it more human. Many project owners underestimate the power of a human connection. People are more willing to support a project when they feel they can relate to and trust the campaign owner. In the video, you should introduce yourself, your campaign, your objectives, rewards you’re offering and conclude with a clear CTA.
#3 Not enough or lackluster rewards
This is another one of those crowdfunding mistakes we see often.Rewards act as tokens of appreciation to incentivize your Backers to donate. They can take various forms depending on the project owner and their available resources. Good campaigns offer a variety of incentives – typically between 5-7 rewards at different price points to appeal to all levels of Backers. Design your rewards with Backers in mind – try to be creative and avoid offering the same type of rewards as everyone else.
#4 Not generating pre-publish Buzz
A portion of your project preparation time should be dedicated to acquiring donation pledges before your campaign launches. Ideally, by the time your project is live, you should have at least 10% of it already funded. This can be done through promoting your project to Backers in your first circle, i.e. your friends and family. The earlier you build momentum for your campaign, the higher chances you will have for success. Start building your community of supporters now so that your audience will spread the word about your project.
People outside of your immediate network will be more willing to donate to a project that shows signs of success. It’s much easier to start off with a bang than to struggle to reach it at the end of your campaign.
#5 Not promoting your campaign through social media
In the world of crowdfunding, no campaign ever promoted itself or became an overnight success. We’ve seen several great campaigns start off strong only to fizzle out by the end of the first week. Don’t let this happen to you! Like we said earlier – it’s important to plan your campaign and this includes a promotion strategy. You’ll need to keep the momentum going to stay in the forefront of your Backer’s minds and to expand your campaign’s reach. Promoting through social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube is one of the most effective ways to get noticed. Chances are, a majority of your Backers will be active on at least one of these channels. Take advantage of the power of your own social connections as well as the social connections of your Backers! If you’re not present and promoting on social media you’re missing out on opportunities to secure additional Backers.
#6 Not communicating with your audience
You are responsible for communicating with your audience throughout the duration of your campaign. People will naturally be curious about your project and will ask questions – don’t ignore them! These are potential Backers who are interested in your project and are likely trying to eliminate any doubts before donating. Likewise, if someone makes a donation, be sure to thank them immediately! Whether it’s privately or publicly on social networks, be sure to show your gratitude.
Moreover, After your campaign has finished, don’t stop communicating with a Backer once they’ve made a donation to your campaign. This one of those crowdfunding mistakes that can be easily overlooked. Thank your Backers when they donate as well as at the end of your campaign as well, regardless if it was fully funded or not. You never know if you’ll need their support in again the future! You’ll also avoid appearing as though you’re only interested in their money. Who knows, a previously unknown Backer could open doors for new opportunities in the future or become a lifelong friend!
#7 Not updating Backers
Updates don’t have to be long or complex – a quick post, tweet or message regularly will keep your audience informed about your campaign’s progress and keep your momentum going. Don’t be afraid to get personal and address your audience directly! By doing so, you can keep your Backers engaged and address any questions or concerns immediately. When done properly, a motivated Backer may even surprise you by going above and beyond to ensure your campaign’s success. The more you involve your Backers in your campaign, the more they’ll be willing to share it with their networks!
In the end, while the concept of crowdfunding is relatively straightforward, creating a successful campaign is a little less so. It requires time, planning, and consistent effort from the project owner to achieve their goals. Before you jump in, you’ll want to take the time to define your goals and expectations. Once you have a clear idea of what these are, it’ll be easier to communicate your objectives to your Backers. Now that you know the most common crowdfunding mistakes users commit, you’ll be able to steer clear of them when creating your own campaign.
Ready to begin?
Before reading this guide, you are ready to crowdfund your education, even if it is a study project or to cover your expenses to work abroad, wich we believe it is also part of your education and of your development.