by Brian Lindvall
2014 President – Voices of Gotham
A few months ago, our chorus decided to put together an online fundraising campaign. It has been an incredible learning experience, and we were pleased to find that it was not only effective, but much easier to set up than we ever anticipated. You can check out our campaign here:
Our campaign officially comes to a close on January 31—and we still have a long way to hit our mark—but we have already learned a great deal about what makes for a successful online campaign, and we'd like to share that knowledge so other Society chapters can benefit.
[EDITOR'S NOTE, 2/1/2014: We are proud to say that our campaign exceeded our goal amount by 22%! Thank you to everyone involved for their contributions and kind words!]
Here are seven tips for any chorus embarking on an online fundraising campaign!
1. USE A PROFESSIONAL FUNDRAISING PLATFORM!
Using a professional platform instantly raises your campaign's credibility. There are several trusted platforms with tried-and-true templates and systems for not only managing donations, but tying those donations to "Thank You" gifts automatically. There is a fee for this level of polish and credibility, but many services offer great discounts for not-for-profits. [Recommended platforms: Indiegogo; Kickstarter]
Note that there are fundamental differences between how these platforms work; if you don't hit your target financial goal on Kickstarter, for example, you do not receive any contributions. Indiegogo, on the other hand, allows you to keep all proceeds even if you don't hit your goal (although the fee is substantially lessened if you do!).
2. CREATE A VIDEO!
Fundraising campaigns with a video raise, on average, 122% more than those without (according to Indiegogo). Even a no-frills video explaining your chorus' needs goes a long way toward making your campaign compelling and shareable. Plus, as a singing organization, it is the absolute best way to showcase your talent and make a case for a donation!
Our video was a real labor of love, and we had an amazing time making it. Have a look and think about what your chorus' unique message might be.
3. USE YOUR MEMBERS' SKILLS!
If you are feeling more ambitious about your campaign video, do yourself a favor and ask your members if they have any hidden talents. By asking that very question, we put together a team that included multiple branding/marketing creatives and directors, a broadcast journalism major, a motion graphics animator, and a professional cameraman and documentarian. And as for talent? Your chorus may not have a documentary filmmaker in its midst, but I guarantee you will find 20 guys clamoring to give an on-screen interview! All told, this video was produced completely through volunteer efforts; the only chorus expense was a pack of AAA batteries for the microphone.
4. MAKE YOUR CASE!
Tell your audience exactly what your chorus plans to do with the money, and don't hesitate to mention the minutiae. It takes a lot to successfully run a chorus—rehearsal space, copyright fees, coaching, riser storage, costumes, props, travel and registrations—and a non-singer may not realize that. Give your audience real world examples of your needs to justify your "ask."
5. OFFER GIFTS!
Motivate your audience with tangible rewards. Odds are you have a great big pile of merchandise in storage (chorus t-shirts, water bottles, albums, etc.). Use it as an incentive for your donors! Don't have merchandise to give away? Get creative! For a donation of $50, our chorus is singing a personalized song featuring the donor's name, uploaded to YouTube for all the world to see. For $500, we are providing the donor with two prime tickets to our upcoming show!
6. ALLOW ANONYMOUS DONATIONS!
Some people don't want the spotlight; they just want to help! More than half of our donations have been anonymous contributions. This also allows for a wonderful opportunity for an individual, corporation, or group to offer an anonymous "matching gift"—a huge motivator to your donor base. In the days leading up to your campaign's official launch, why not reach out privately to anyone who has expressed the desire to contribute, and put together a "matching gift" challenge together?
7. USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO GET THE WORD OUT!
Now that your fundraising campaign lives online, it is incredibly simple to share it via Social Media like Facebook and Twitter. Ask friends, family, and community members to get the word out. There's no telling who you'll reach!