Here at Faithify, we don’t see an unsuccessful campaign as a failure.

We value faith-full risk taking.

Crowdfunding is public. Very public. In the traditional paradigm, fundraising is shrouded in secrecy: Contribution figures, funders, even ideas are pitched in private and never see the light of day. Crowdfunding is different. It opens the windows and lets the world see and participate. BUT that also means if you don’t reach your goal, the world can see that too. Ouch! But this is actually a good thing…Why?

If we are going to achieve great things, we need to take risks! Rather than being stuck in feelings of guilt, publicly sharing our learning raises our collective wisdom.

The only failures are the ones we don’t learn from. How might we use an unsuccessful campaign to build our resilience?

You may have been taught that resilience was something that you either were born with or not, like the color of your eyes. Current resilience theory tells something quite different- we all can learn strategies, characteristics, and practices that help us bounce back as individuals and as organizations.

What lessons can come out of a “failed” campaign?

  • Timing:
    • Even the most perfectly written and publicized campaign will not be successful if the timing is wrong. About 60% of backers are people from your extended community. For example, if your community usually goes on holiday during the summer, that’s not a great time to expect them to pay attention to your campaign.
    • If your project needs to be funded by a certain date and your campaign ends well after that date, people may not be motivated to get your campaign to the goal. Give thought to your campaign’s timing in the context of your project and your community.
  • Backers:
    • Invest time before your campaign launch to build up backers. Line up several people who can donate right at the launch, midway, and at the end of your campaign. Ask several people to amplify your campaign page link on social media.
    • Download the list of people who pledged to your unsuccessful campaign and ask if they would support a new campaign. These could be your devoted partners in spreading the word on a new campaign.
    • Here’s more in-depth discussion of Backers and Mobilizing Networks for Rapid Response.
  • Goal:
    • Perhaps your goal was set too high? We advise people set an aspirational, yet attainable goal. You can launch your campaign again with a smaller goal. Consider breaking your project in to phases, each phase a different campaign. You can always go over the goal or create a Stretch Goal.
  • Publicity:
    • Marketing is the most important part of a crowdfunding campaign, it’s the only way you’re going to convince others to support your campaign and give you their money. Ask the people in your community what messages did and did not resonate. Enlist a few tips from our publicity article, Be Like Bamboo.
  • Platform:
    • Crowdfunding won’t be the right option for all projects. Sometimes it’s best to find an alternative. Chalice Lighter grant programs exist in several regions. (Each region’s Chalice Lighter program is run a bit differently, contact your regional staff for details.) The UUA administers several Grants and Funds, and the UU Funding Program has funded many innovative UU projects.

Resilience theory tells us that hope, bravery, and zest are key to overcoming adversity. Organizations that are transparent about their sometimes rocky road to success are healthier. Use open communication to let your community know not only your successes, but also your challenges. Sharing innovative ideas is like oxygen. It gives life to more, and better, ideas. Instead of failures being hidden away in feelings of shame, they can be learned from and embraced.

A Few More Resources on Resilience:


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