Not too long after college, I took on the side project of co-founding a media production company and recording studio. Which was A LOT of fun. I gotta admit, this project turned out to be an extremely rewarding and important experience in my life. My successes - and failures - in the music industry taught me a lot about how social media is changing the way we do business. For the most part, the people and organizations that have the resources (talent and capital) are the examples everyone else looks up to. But it’s clear that the big players are experiencing the game-change too. For example, a lot of music artists and labels try to establish relationships with radio station DJs to gain airplay and increase record sales. But think about it..when was the last time you consistently listened to the radio? Don’t get me wrong - those relationships are still valuable. But it’s a fact that fewer and fewer people are relying on the radio as their primary source for new music. How much do you think we’ll listen to the radio 10 or 20 years from now?
Now for unsigned - and even some signed artists - they must not only create great music but also promote themselves and their music as a brand. Which is very hard to do. Major labels have million dollar budgets to spend on marketing and album promotion. An up & coming artist has few if any dollars to spend on promotion. So what’s an artist to do? Flip the funnel.
The lessons I learned from the music industry apply directly to the nonprofit space. Both scenarios deal with people and organizations fighting to spread their message - with little to no resources in comparison to the major players. When we compare nonprofits to musicians, and their supporters to fans, you’ll see that building and engaging your donor base can be done the same way as building a fan base. (Illustrated by our buddy Seth Godin…one of those ways includes flipping the funnel.)
Flipping the funnel is the idea of giving your fans a megaphone and letting them broadcast your message to their own friends and supporters. Artists jumped on this bandwagon early with the advent of mixtapes and street teams. And before social sharing there was simple file sharing. So while record labels cringe at the idea of having music given away for free - Artistic instinct supports that many free listeners is far more valuable than a few paid listeners.
Some of the most successful artists of the last 10 years got their start by giving the majority of their music away for free. This is a perfect example of “flipping the funnel”. Rather than trying to control what your fans or supporters do, you give them the power to control, share, and respond to your message. Yeah sure - this does go against what traditional corporations and business schools teach us about corporate communications. But it seems like going against the status quo is highly rewarded today. File sharing, the broader internet, and social media are examples of how the times are changing. This message applies directly to nonprofits. If you put your message directly in the hands of those who care about it, you have just enabled them to spread your cause.
This is the true power of social media. Allowing your supporters to do just that, support you. Rather than spend millions on a Super Bowl ad, why not generate some awesome and free content that people will WANT to share with their friends? With the power of social media, those shares can reach thousands – if not millions – with simply the click of a button. Do you know of any examples of how organizations are flipping the funnel? Share your thoughts and fill us in….we’d love to hear from you.
Oscar Winberg here, the intern, aka Distraction Jackson. I’m currently studying business at NYU and I’ve been interning here at WeDidIt for about 5 months. Being an intern at a startup is unique. I feel that I get to be a part of many things that wouldn’t be possible in more traditional internships at bigger companies.
Here at WeDidIt the day-to-day is never the same, and that is the nature of startups. One day I will be writing a blog post and another day I could be researching potential marketing opportunities, or haggling with FedEx for the best package size. The best part about startups though, in my opinion, is that you get to work and engage with all the people who make the decisions. As I’m writing this, Ben, cofounder, is sitting next to me and Su, other cofounder, is across the room. There are not many internships that gives you such a close relationship with the people in charge and I’ve learned a lot from them.
WeDidIt as a company is at a really exciting stage in its life and I’m super excited to be here and help all these guys out. In the process, I’m getting valuable experience that I can translate to future jobs and work relationships.
In the meantime, I will be working hard here at WeDidIt to make sure it will be a success, both for the team, who are hardworking, dedicated, and great guys, and for the non-profits WeDidIt help launch fundraising campaigns for. The future is exciting here at WeDidIt.
One of the easiest ways to measure an online video’s success is by counting the number of times it’s viewed. Online videos with millions of views get such high exposure for a variety of reasons. Some videos will get exposure no matter what - these are videos that come from sources that already have a large audience. They’re generally well-produced, high-budget, and are made with a very distinct purpose. For example, when YouTube posts Obama’s State of the Union address, it’s going to get more than a couple hits. Same goes for Bieber. Other videos have to earn their audiences - these are videos that come from unknown sources but, because of the video content, are shared and watched all over the world. These videos are generally low-budget and have very little production value.
The crucial distinction between these two types of viral videos is that the first kind is made with the intention of reaching an enormous audience, while the second kind reaches a large audience inadvertently. This distinction is critical because it’s difficult to leverage inadvertent exposure. This is why the early heros of YouTube - although being some of the most viewed humans on the planet - don’t really reap the benefits of their fame (you’re probably outta luck borrowing money from the stars of Chocolate Rain, Charlie bit my finger, David after the dentist, etc.)
However, the divide between the two types of high-exposure online videos is becoming more blurred. Unknown filmmakers and video producers can make online videos that intentionally have a low-budget, home-made feel and are intended to go viral. For the average would-be-video-producer, this is great news. These are what we’ve been calling DIY videos - they’re cheap to make, you can do them yourself, and you can drive your audience to take some sort of action after watching them. To make a successful DIY video, you should have a few things in mind. First is if somebody starts watching your video, why are they going to keep watching it? You need to keep the content coming. The second thing to remember is that you’re asking your audience to become active towards your cause at the end of the video. Why are they inspired to do that? Why are they going to answer your call to action? There’s not much point in having a ‘Charlie bit my finger’-style video and at the end tacking on ‘btw u shud don8 2 my nonprft!!!!!!’ There needs to be a connection between the video content and the call-to-action. This is the difference between your video gaining exposure and your exposure gaining you donations.
The example I want to leave you with is one that we came across recently on THE FUTURE OF PUBLISHING. My mom’s an author and I grew up with my nose in books so for me this video is extremely important. It’s short, extremely low-budget, it convinces you of its message, and I’m yet to show it to somebody who didn’t want to share it themselves. Keep it in mind when you’re brainstorming for your own call-to-action videos.
….2 words. Interesting Rewards.
Our friends at Kickstarter have paved the way for us crowdfunding enthusiasts. If you’re unfamiliar, Kickstarter is the most popular stage where creative/artistic projects can find funding through an online platform. What’s great about Kickstarter is that creatives are encouraged to reward their backers (donors) with a gift or token of appreciation. We’ve seen this donation-reward system have incredible success on Kickstarter, and wanted to dissect why this system works so well.
Let’s briefly take a look at the 5 most successful Kickstarter projects (to date):
Goal: $125K, Raised: $928,771 from 5,358 backers
Goal: $15K, Raised: $942,578 from 13,512 backers
Goal: $57,750, Raised: $1,254,120 from 14,952 backers
Goal: $75K, Raised: $1,464,706 from 12,521 backers
Goal: $400K, Raised: $3,336,371 from 87,142 backers
For projects focussed around a deliverable, you can have amazing crowdfunding success if you reward donors with something they actually want. These campaigns went viral because they compelled people to share and donate with the hopes of receiving the proposed deliverable (e.g. the watch, the new video game, speakers, etc). Yes, people will donate from the goodness of their hearts, but that isn’t sustainable. It sure isn’t sexy. So let’s give people a reason to donate. And reason to share your campaign with their friends and family. You can do this by offering interesting rewards in your crowdfunding campaigns that galvanize people towards action (specifically sharing and donating).
Now, I understand that as a nonprofit organization, you may not have access to sexy products/gifts to reward your donors. That’s okay! Your rewards don’t have to be tangible items…they can simply be creative ways of saying ‘Thank You’ to your donors (e.g. hand-written thank you note, short video message, dinner, personal blog post). Nonetheless, the team at WeDidIt is making it easy for you to find rewards that your audience will both LOVE and appreciate :)
So as Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android approaches Kickstarter History with their ground breaking project (already raised over $3MM with over 30 days left!), think about how your organization can give people a reason to donate if you too want crowdfunding success.
Creating your own crowdfunding campaign can be very exciting. Finally a chance to be creative and show your organization in a light that inspires action! True. We’re all looking for new donors and volunteers who believe in our cause. But developing a crowdfunding campaigns poses a new set of challenges that many don’t realize until it’s too late.
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Let’s review the common elements to an engaging crowdfunding campaign so that you folks can get your ducks in a row wayyyy before launch day. Your “To Do” list:
Define your type of fundraising - General Operating Funds vs Project-based
Are you raising money simply to keep the lights on, or are you fundraising for a specific project or initiative. These things matter a lot when crafting a clear message to your online audience. Moreover, project-based fundraising tends to be a bit more sexy, allowing for a more engaging fundraising campaign with a deliverable. Either way, decide this early and plan your campaign accordingly.
Define your central message - Using a short video or a compelling photo/image
The powers of a compelling video message cannot be understated. Here’s the perfect opportunity for you to show donors exactly why they should believe in you and donate. It’s also your best opportunity to include the most relevant details related to your crowdfunding campaign (e.g. your story/mission, how the money raised will be used, exactly how each donation helps, enticing rewards, etc). Pics and images can also be used, but they won’t give you nearly the kind of viral-ness we’ve seen in these campaigns [Ipod nano watch, DoubleFine Adventure)
Determine your promotional strategy - Social media, traditional media, direct connect
If your organization has the resources…platforms like facebook, twitter, Google+ and other online networks should be a part of your promotional arsenal. However, there’s something quite personal about an email or phone call that give organizations who keep an updated email list a great advantage. Overall, we must remember that the only way people are going to donate to your campaign is because you’ve put it in front of them. Whether it’s your adorable grandmother or a popular blogger, you have to actively put your campaign in their hands if you want a chance at having them donate or at having them share the campaign within their own circle of friends/family. Nonetheless, any coverage in print or broadcast radio/TV will widen your potential audience dramatically, so be sure to identify every possible angle for promoting your campaign so that you can reach new donors most effectively.
Hopefully, I haven’t simplified developing a crowdfunding campaign too much. Let me know if you have any questions and perhaps we can map out what a potentially fundraising campaign would look like for your nonprofit.
The benefits of online giving are two-fold. First, raising funds over the internet is generally cheap and without risk. The second hidden benefit is the potential to reach out to new donors and supporters. This potential has immensely increased with the ease of online sharing. If donors give to an organization that they support, then they are likely to share their donation with their friends by posting it in their online social network. How will this bring in new donors and supporters? Let’s refer back to the Millennial Donors Survey.
If you already have a compelling cause, you will be happy to know that a compelling cause is what motivates 85% of donations. But, how do you turn your compelling cause and initial donations into a viral fundraising campaign? 52% of those who gave to an organization were prompted by a family member and 42% were prompted by a friend, creating what we call donor sharing. If people are already attracted to your cause, they will want your cause to be successful so that their donation can actually make a difference. If the donors share the cause with a family member, they are helping ensure that their donation goes to a successful campaign by broadening your pool of potential donors. Their desire to share broadens your donor base and your support network. This is the hidden benefit to online giving and donor sharing. With traditional donations, you can only hope that the person who made a donation spreads your cause through word of mouth. With online giving, sharing your cause with thousands of people is only a click away. Getting people to actually donate and share is the tricky part, but it is something I will cover soon in an article about crowdfunding.Source: millennialdonors.com