OwlCrowd Step-by-Step Guide
Your guide to launching a successful, sustainable, and fully funded OwlCrowd campaign!
Launching a successful crowdfunding campaign takes time and planning. But with forethought, strategy, and an active fundraising team, you’ll be well on your way to meeting your fundraising goal—and we want to help get you there! In this project guide, we offer helpful tips, strategies, and best practices for the pre-, active, and post-crowdfunding campaign stages. Should you have additional questions not covered in this guide, feel free to contact us at OwlCrowd@temple.edu.
Ready to get started?
The very start of the semester, or even over the prior break, is a great time to begin assembling your fundraising team, preparing strategies, and planning for a successful crowdfunding effort.
1. Assemble your team
First things first. Make sure your project has enough people actively involved to be successful. There is strength in numbers when it comes to crowdfunding. Be sure to:
Assemble your team prior to the start of the campaign to ensure buy-in and support from multiple students (and, by extension, their social networks).
Designate one person to lead the campaign—the organization’s treasurer, a team member who initiated the idea for the project, or simply a team member with an active interest in fundraising.
Set a meeting schedule to review campaign goals and strategies to maximize your chances for success and to give the team a chance to share ideas.
Of course, successful crowdfunding run by just one person isn’t unheard of, but we know you’re busy. And more people on board makes for more potential donors, more support—and, hopefully, more fun.
2. Set a funding goal
OwlCrowd campaigns can theoretically raise an unlimited amount of funds, but we recommend you stick with funding goals of up to $5,000. To determine how much you want to raise, calculate your project costs as realistically as you can, and consider adding a bit more to cover for margin of error or unexpected expenses.
3. Secure a FOAPAL
What’s a FOAPAL? It’s your student organization’s Fund, Organization, Account, Program, Activity, and Location number, and it’s essentially a financial account that allows you to secure funds through Temple University. The funds you raise through OwlCrowd will be administered through your FOAPAL, so it’s important to have one in place prior to the start of your campaign.
If your organization has been in place for a while, chances are you already have a FOAPAL. Check with your organization’s faculty advisor for information. If you don’t have a FOAPAL, in most cases you’ll simply need to fill out an online form to get the process started. You’ll need the following information:
Official name of the student organization
Names to be included on the account
A description of what you plan to use the OwlCrowd funds for (note that what you claim here must be what the funds actually go toward once your campaign is complete)
A copy of your organization’s constitution or bylaws
Once your information has been submitted, your FOAPAL will typically be issued in 7-10 days—so be sure to account for enough time to have it ready before the application deadline. Iif you still need help obtaining a FOAPAL, after checking with your advisor, please contact OwlCrowd@temple.edu.
4. Get your faculty advisor involved
Getting your organization’s faculty advisor on board with your crowdfunding campaign has a number of advantages. First, an advisor can reach out to his or her own social networks and influential alumni. Chances are, these networks differ significantly from the networks of the students involved. Also, faculty support can be helpful to brainstorm fundraising ideas and make sure project goals and budgets are clear and accurate.
5. Write a crowdfunding marketing message
An important first step in your fundraising push is putting pen to paper and writing down your project goals in order to clearly communicate them to those you’ll be asking for money. Make sure all team members are given your standard project messaging to ensure consistency in your communications. The messaging should clearly describe the project, its goals, who’s involved, and specifics around what your funds will pay for. Keep the voice authentic and personal (yet professional) and consider sharing it with other students and your faculty advisor for feedback prior to publishing it online.
6. Get off $0 before you even start
One of the most challenging aspects of crowdfunding is getting beyond $0. Human nature creates a tendency to follow the lead of others, so getting contributions early on is key to gaining momentum and getting your campaign off the ground. You can also fundraise much more easily for a project you personally support. Be sure to make a gift yourself and encourage the rest of your project team.
One strategy for doing this is to secure your guaranteed contributions on day 1, or even before your official launch. Get in touch with close friends, family and very loyal contributors—those you’re very certain will give to your campaign—before you launch. Ask them to commit to making a contribution on the first day of your campaign. Then, when others go to your page for the first time they’ll see that you’ve already raised some money, giving your project more credibility and increasing your chances of others jumping on board early.
7. Fill out the online OwlCrowd application form
That’s a lot of planning to start with, but it will set you up for a successful campaign. Now it’s time to dive in. Fill out the OwlCrowd application form online. Remember: The application submission deadline for the spring campaign is Monday, February 20, 2017. Let’s get started!
During your campaign, you really put the pedal to the metal. While Temple Annual Giving will include your campaign in its OwlCrowd promotions, you and your team must direct the bulk of fundraising yourselves. The more you put in, the more you’re likely to raise. To get you started, we’ve outlined a few strategies here that you can use to promote your project and spread the word.
1. Invite friends and family to a kick-off event
Who doesn’t love a good party? Consider throwing a crowdfunding kickoff event for friends and family to rally the team and give supporters the 411 on what your project’s all about, why it’s so important, and how much money you hope to raise—as you raise a glass and toast to the start of your campaign.
How to do this? First off: Don’t stress. Your launch party needn’t be complicated. A party at your favorite spot on campus or a gathering at your organization’s regular meeting location may work just as well as a sit-down dinner catered by foodie friends. Choose what works for you, but keep it fun and stress-free. You want people to walk away excited, not exhausted.
2. Reach out to your social network regularly
Quick question: Do you have Facebook open on your laptop right now? If so, open that tab and give a shout-out to your crowdfunding campaign. There’s no time like the present to plug your fundraising efforts. And do it often! You already know how social networking works. Now you just need to use that know-how to ask for money for your cause. Keep in mind the following social networking strategies:
onsider writing a boilerplate Facebook update and standard tweet with a link to your crowdfunding page, making it easy for team members to post and tweet updates. For example: _____ days into our fundraising campaign for __________. $______ raised and $_______ left to go. Contribute, share and help us get there! We’ve got ____ days left!
Include a simple, personal message about why the campaign means so much to you and your organization. It will help keep things authentic and gain “likes” and possibly contributions. GoFundMe advocates for this—and so do we.
Share and share alike. Ask team members to post and tweet at regular intervals, and have the team lead take charge of sending them email and text reminders to do so.
3. Consider creating a fundraising video
Video content is among the most popular media types for sharing on the web. It goes without saying that creating a video for your crowdfunding campaign can go a long way in gaining attention for your project. What might not be so obvious is that a video needn’t be expensive. In fact, self-made smartphone videos can still make an impact.
4. Send emails to prior donors and social networks
If your organization has run an OwlCrowd campaign in the past, it’s worth checking in with previous donors. Send them an email thanking them again for their previous contribution, and give them the details about your new project and how it will help advance your organization even further. These previous donors may be interested in seeing your continued success, especially if you let them know how much their prior gift helped you. Be sure to also send emails to your wider social network; you can include more details here than in your social media posts.
5. Set up incentives for contributors
Consider offering gifts and incentives for donors at various levels. For example, those giving up to $50 receive a social media shout-out, while those giving $500 or more are invited to a campaign-end celebration dinner. The ideas are limitless and the levels are yours to set.
6. Ask early donors to share with their networks
When you get those early contributions in, be sure to thank the people behind them. And then ask them to help you spread the word. Your early donors do a great job of helping to set momentum. Your campaign will start gaining the trust of would-be donors as you raise funds, and the support of those who give early on will add to this trend. Remember: It should be very easy for those donors to help you put the word out. Send them an email that they can easily copy and paste to their own network, or simply request that they “like” your Facebook page or share your fundraising video.
7. Hold regular meetings to assess progress
As things get moving, check in with your team. Get everyone together to see how things are going. What percentage of your goal have you raised? Has everyone reached out to his or her network? Does the team post regularly? Are your social media posts being shared, getting “likes,” or getting comments? If you’re seeing positive movement, discuss how you can take that momentum to the next level. If you’re not seeing much success, start investigating where your efforts are falling short and how you can pick up speed.
8. Push the tipping point
Near the end of your campaign and oh-so-close to your goal? You’re at what crowdfunding experts call “the tipping point.” Now’s the time for the hard push to get you to 100%, or even beyond. Now is not the time to relax or be shy about asking for money. You’ve earned it. Make absolutely certain that your whole team is putting the word out on social media and in emails to let your network know that you’re so close—and these last donors are the ones who will get you to your goal. These are the contributors who love to be the heroes at the end of the story. So make sure they know you’re out there.
Once your campaign’s over, it’s time to celebrate. And then, time to put those funds to work. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you make the best use of your dollars—and keep the trust of your donors.
1. Keep records of how your funds are spent
Remember the project budget you made before your campaign? Dig that back out and get started. Now you can begin putting your funds to work for your project. Be sure to keep track of how close your actual costs are to your estimates, and where all your contributions are spent—both planned and unexpected expenses. You may need these records for tax purposes, depending on how your organization is set up, and this information will also come in handy for future planning and fundraising.
2. Share your success and thank your donors!
Once your OwlCrowd campaign concludes be sure to share with your donors that you were successful in reaching your goals. Thank them for the part they played in ensuring the success of your project. Consider using social media as well as personal outreach like emails to spread the news.
Success. Temple Made.