In fundraising, we talk a lot about raising money. Reaching a numerical goal is the measure of “success”. That makes sense, since money is what fuels projects, but receiving gifts is is only one piece of successful fundraising. Money does not exist in a vacuum and a gift does not exist without a giver. In crowdfunding, we call these folx Backers. Establishing a relationship with your backers is vital to the meaningful and lasting success of your projects.
In a previous post, we talked about understanding who your backers will be when planning a fundraiser. Now let’s assume that your crowdfunding campaign is live or just finished. The people who donate to your project really care about what you are doing. Out of all the many, many, many appeals they receive each day, they chose your project because they feel connected to you, your organization, or the mission of your project – or all of these! Sometimes, it’s clear to understand why someone has donated to your project, they are related to the youth going on a service trip, for example. Other times, you might never find out why they chose to support you, but trust that they donated because they felt a connection to you or your project.
How do you honor that connection and help it grow even stronger? Your backers are your biggest cheerleaders, they have proven that they care, so make sure to give them some love! Here’s some ideas:
- Let your backers know what’s happening with the project. That means during the fundraiser and afterwards when the project is underway and completed. It’s really frustrating to invest emotional energy and financial treasure in a project and never know what happened to that investment of care.
- Updates can be simple, no need to create a 20 minute high production video! A paragraph or two, or a couple of pictures is really great and will be appreciated.
- Post updates to your open campaign to build energy. You can post an update to your campaign page yourself or send the info to us and we’ll make the update for you. Need help figuring out what to say? Send us an email or schedule a conversation to talk it through. We can help!
- Send out updates on social media. Your backers will be able to share the update messages and attract others to join them in supporting your project. Fresh messages are very important to motivating likes and shares – which makes your campaign more visible.
- Include the joys and struggles – Be real. Share the excitement of project participants, preparations for the project, and reflections on what happened. Not every post has to be saccharine sweet, though. It’s OK if your project or fundraiser experiences a setback, that happens in life. People really do care and as long as you center the mission in what you are doing, backers stay engaged.
- We started posting updates on funded projects that authors send us – they are so inspiring! It’s never too late to send us an update on your Faithify-ed project (hint , hint!)
As you can see from the list above, updates are all about communication and relationship. Updates are a great tool and they don’t have to take a lot of time to have a big impact.
Now, the absolute, most important part of the backer relationship is thanking. People need to be appreciated and saying ‘thank you’ is one of the easiest and most effective ways to tend to backers. Make thanking part of your plan before you even begin your crowdfunding campaign, so you know who will take care of this essential piece and how it will get done swiftly. As fundraising consultant Kim Klein says, “Thank before you bank!”
- Thank backers for their gift quickly, ideally within 48 hours after receiving a donation. When donors receive a thank you quickly after their donation, they tend to increase their support. When they do not, they tend to decrease support. Support could be help promoting your open campaign through sharing it on social media or giving an additional gift.
- Thanking serves multiple purposes. First, it assures them that you received their gift. Second, it lets them know that their gift is of value to you. Third, it indicates that your fundraiser is well run, and is a good one to support in the future and share with friends.
- Know what contact information you will have. This will help you plan your thanking strategy. The Faithify website collects only the names and email addresses of backers. You can download a list of your backers at anytime from your Faithify Dashboard. You might have other contact information for backers from your own database, but be prepared with non-mail ways to thank folx.
- If you have phone numbers and/or mailing addresses, making a phone call is the quickest way to thank donors. Nothing is more personal, even if you are simply leaving a voice message. Short thank you notes work also well. Adding a few handwritten lines helps to increase the impact of your thanks.
- Emails can be a beautiful thank you. With a list of your backers’ email addresses, you can use services like Mailchimp to create dynamic and engaging thank you letters. Sign up for a free Mailchimp account to automatically build your own mailing list comprised of each of your supporters through your Faithify Dashboard.
- There are many ways to thank! Get creative with thanking. Here’s some ideas for free ways of saying “Thanks!”
- Create a special Thank You playlist of songs using Spotify. A playlist can be posted on your campaign page, social media accounts, or shared in an email. It’s a fun way to share the groovy feeling of gratitude.
- A picture is worth a thousand words. How about creating a graphic on Canva? We are big fans of this free, online design tool. Add text to pictures of any size, with the templates provided, then post it to your social media account or website.
- Shoot a thank you video. Use your phone camera to tell your backers how much their gifts mean to you and the project. Don’t overthink it – it doesn’t have to be perfect! You can load the video onto a streaming service like YouTube or Vimeo, or do a live video on your social media platform. If this is your first time, here’s some tips on the technical aspects of making a video with your phone.
- Respect backers who want to be anonymous. In any of these more public thank you methods, make sure you check the Backer list on your campaign page or the report we send to indicate who is donating anonymously. You can still say thanks, but do it in a general way rather than naming people.
- Whatever method you use, it’s never too late to say thank you. Sure, it’s best to thank backers within a few days, but thanking late is much better than not thanking at all!
Kim Klein has tons more info on thanking backers and other fundraising essentials in her excellent book, Fundraising For Social Change and check out our post discussing The Basics on Backers for your crowdfunding campaign.