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District Clay

Starting An Indiegogo Campaign...and Not Sucking At It

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We are hoping to start an Indiegogo campaign soon and are looking for some advice. We would like to start in the next month (although not ideal). Our goal is around $10,000. We are raising funds because we recently expanded and also because we are looking to give our students and teachers new equipment, a ceramic gallery, and also starting our non-profit classes for under-served families.

 

Any tips and tricks you guys have found?

 

Things to think about: 

 

-Rewards for supporters

-Non-profit involvement (we are currently a non-profit whose goal is to give free pottery classes to families in the area)

-Marketing and Social Media plans

-Any other monitoring or tips specific to Indiegogo

 

Let us know! We love your knowledge. 

 

Also if you want to check out our website to get a better idea of our studio click HERE

 

Thank you!

 

-District Clay Peeps

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I had a look at your social media accounts and your website, and a couple of potential points, from someone standing well out of the situation:

Your social media following is pretty small for a crowdfunding endeavour, across all platforms. That by itself doesn't have to be a huge problem, BUT they're not very engaged. Which is a big problem if you need to be pulling on people's heart strings enough to want to contribute. Unless you have a big, enthusiastic mailing list, you need to get people more excited about what you're doing. This leads into my second observation: Your mission statement is kind of vague. You have a number of initiatives you're trying to start that have once sentence mentions, but no meat to the story. I have no idea what you want these funds for. That's not going to compel me to give you my hard earned dollars, unless you get a lot more specific. If you tell me, for instance that the funds will be going to purchase necessary equipment for you to start an after school clay program for disadvantaged kids, here's my $25. It's not much, but that I can get behind. And if you can get a lot of people to give you $25, it's easier than trying to land larger donations.

 

These are just my observations from your web presence: you may have bigger plans that you're articulating elsewhere, but they're not really specific enough online yet, and I live far away, so that's all I can see.

 

Also, I want to address that you said you're worried about appearing overbearing about calling attention to the fact that there is not for profit involvement. Your mission is very specifically to raise funds. That means you have to tell people about it. A lot. And often. That's your job here. People that are going to be annoyed by the message aren't going to give you money anyways. Yes, they will likely unfollow you on social media. That's normal, and actually desirable. People who are inclined to give you money for your worthy cause know that's what your purpose is because you've told them your amazing story, and will donate. They'll even probably feel good about it, because of that non-profit bit. Loose the shame about it. People that want to listen, will. Those who don't, weren't going to hang around anyways.

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I realize that last post might sound super harsh. I want to say that I think if you're building community IRL, those points are all fixable with a professional-grade plan. But starting fundraising efforts before all those things are fixed (particularly the engagement part) will make your life difficult.

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This all makes sense thanks so much Callie. I started working for District Clay a few months ago and have attempted to start up some new content but I think your correct about the engagement part. It is so difficult in this day and age to create "viral" and constantly engaging content. I personally think we need more unique videos but it's not always the easiest to do. We just hired a Social Media Manager so hopefully we can get some more followers through her attempts. 

 

The non-profit part is just tricky to me concerning the legal aspect. In the campaign we would 100% be very specific as to what the money is going to help fund. I think we should include the non-profit but we aren't able to use the non-profit funds for all of our construction and moving fees (we have recently expanded) and so that is the reason why we are torn about whether or not we want the whole campaign to go to the non-profit. 

 

As far as next steps, what do you think we can get going soon in order to make this a success (and quick we only have less then a month)? All your advice is great and I will definitely digest it in the next few days so we can move forward. Let me know if you can think of anything else. Thank you!

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"Our goal is around $10,000. We are raising funds because we recently expanded."

 

I hope you have a better reason for a fund-raising campaign than that statement. Perhaps you should not have expanded if you could not afford the cost of expansion. I was associated with a studio in the DC area that went under for that very same reason . . . more space under lease than he could afford.

 

And what is the urgency of your need to get it underway in less than a month? Don't understand that part.

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I think you need more specific reasons for the 10,000.Why are you wanting to expand ?and who would be served by that?What's involved and why?

I would want a though explanation on the non-profit like who is paid and who is not.

I am on a board of a non profit which I helped form. The clearer info the better.

Why the rush and whats going in the space.Details are whats needed before asking for $.

 

It took me some time mousing around to get your location-about 3,000 miles from me.

How about more efforts with your users on fund raising?

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Just a few comments to add. Hope this may be helpful.

 

If your web site is still "Under Construction", say so. It is disappointing to get 404 "page not found" messages (your timeline) or nothing happens with "click here"--as is the case for the 4 artists whose work we are invited to see, but cannot.  

 

Be very upfront about where/for what the money would go, in specific detail. Do not co-mingle funds with your 501©3. Do one or the other. It is better to say something like "your donation does not go to the non-profit, but it is essential to supporting the program". Then list exactly what you will use the funds for--including overhead/administration if that is the case. Don't apologise but don't hide it either. (My former career was heavy on non-profit development and writing grant/fund raising proposals, so I am responding from that perspective.)

 

Frankly, the simple activity of "doing good works" is not going to cut it for Indiegogo fans. Assess whether you really have a shot at generating the traffic/interest to come close to a 10K goal; It looks bad when an Indiegogo campaign is launched and then comes no where near goal-it sours people who gave, even if they get a refund. You might even consider a less competitive Go Fund Me campaign.

 

I would definitely offer a nice small ceramic gift for all contributors-tiered in value based on the size of the donation.

 

I also note that while you have a general philosophy, you do not have a succinct, clearly articulated Mission Statement. Any non-profit should have one, but very few know how to compose them correctly. here is one way, which I hope may be helpful:  

 

A mission statement should say:

 

1.  Who your group is.

2.  What you do. (the business of the group)

3.  What you stand for. (the values of the group)

4.  Why you do it. (the purpose of the group)

 

An effective mission statement is best developed with input by all the members of the group or organization. The best mission statements tend to be 4-5 sentences long. A good mission statement will provide the prospective donor with an automatic "justification" for parting with his/her money for the cause.

 

 Sample: The XYZ Advisory Group, founded in 2003 by Bingo and Bango, is an educational resource for systems of health care in the "skid row" district of Los Angles, California. The Group seeks to help improve the lives of homeless children with special health care needs (CSHCN), by helping their families reduce the costs of health care through direct services and targeted referral.

 

Who: The XYZ Group

The business:  Educational resource for systems of health care for CSHCN

The values: Improving children’s lives and helping their families.  

The purpose: Provide information and referral regarding financing the cost-of-care for CSHCN

Adapted  from tgci.com (The Grantsmanship Center), How to Write a Mission Statement.

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Thank you everyone for your responses. 

 

Update: The link for our website on Facebook has been fixed. Hooray!

 

Again I am all new to this and just learning as I go so this has all been very helpful. The campaign will be very detailed to include all of the items that the funds will be helping to cover and we will create a better mission statement for sure. 

 

As far as the time thing we actually pushed this back a few weeks (were going to launch next TUESDAY....ah). We determined it was best to move it back to be able to better elaborate on our plan before launching. 

 

Although we have already expanded (and completely financially stable to do so) we are looking to implement a few new things to the studio that will give great benefits to the students and teachers we have. 

 

We would like to be able to get a new kiln, we are building a gallery (first ceramic gallery in DC!), and as said before we have started a non-profit to offer free classes to under-served families and youth. We are partnering with a few schools in the area to achieve this.

 

These are just a few but the studio is doing it's best post-move to incorporate some new things and with the campaign we will be able to continue to elaborate on our long-term plans.

 

I realize the urgency of this seems crazy but we have actually been planning this campaign for about 2 months now. We have a sub-committee dedicated to determining proper rewards, incentives for our students to get their friends and families to donate, and also the content and social media timeline for the whole shebang. 

 

I guess the main question we have been hoping to get clarity about would be what are some things in the next month that you all think could boost our success for this? We want to be able to do as much as possible beforehand so during the campaign there are less hiccups. Let me know if you have other thoughts but these are all great so far. Thank you!

 

Sincerely,

District Clay

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You might want to drive up I-95 and talk to the folks at Baltimore Clayworks -- a very successful (as you likely know) non-profit.  They are likely to be more than willing to share lessons learned.  Also, the Art League in Alexandria does successful fund-raising. 

 

I am not sure you are ready to start your campaign . . . seems to be drive more by timing than having a well-thought out plan.  Get your plan right, then execute.  As noted, your social media presence is not large and, most likely, only encompasses those involved in pottery/ceramics.  That is not a strong/deep pocket base from which to raise money.  And most potters social media friends tend to be . . . other potters, so forwarding to their friends may not help a lot.  A crowd-sourced fundraiser is likely appropriate/good for single need items, e.g., a kiln, but they are not good sources for sustaining recurring costs, such as low/no tuition programs for the underserved, operating a gallery.  For those, you need a committed donor base that will give money annually, not one time.  Otherwise, your efforts will be a flash in the pan. 

 

Your next hire should be someone with successful experience in fund-raising/donor development for non-profits.  No clay experience needed, just good non-profit business and fund-raising acumen.

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you do sound naive.  the FIRST pottery gallery in DC?  sorry, that is not quite right.  i have been around for many years and have visited several of them over that time.  you are not unique.  learn from others who have experience with building this kind of venture.  you are dismissing as not worthy of mention the work done at a number of places in the city, Glen Echo comes to mind first.  Hand gallery in georgetown may be gone now but it was a stable business for many years.  Appalachian Spring is still there.  

 

what makes you think you are unique?  answering that might help you resolve your mission statement.

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That's great advice. I definitely know we need to expand our social media so we have hired a social media manager to handle that (just this week). I have been doing our social media for about a month but you can't do everything in that time frame. We will definitely plan this out more and determine a better goal to work towards. Large donors and supporters is in our long-term plan but since we just turned into a much larger operation we are only beginning to get a grasp on what we need and can do. 

 

Thanks again!

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Guest JBaymore

 

 

Your next hire should be someone with successful experience in fund-raising/donor development for non-profits.  No clay experience needed, just good non-profit business and fund-raising acumen.

 

I've sat on 3 non-profit Boards.  This stuff is NOT easy.

 

They can hire Lee as a consultant.  She has experience in this kind of stuff (as you can tell from her post above).

 

best,

 

................john

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I guess the main question we have been hoping to get clarity about would be what are some things in the next month that you all think could boost our success for this?

#1...stop thinking small.. you keep referring to a very closed knit circle--- such as ---    ( not an insult, just trying to jar your mind set.)

 

incentives for our students to get their friends and families to donate,

..which you already stated are under served.... which I assume to mean low income families. They are not going to be able to help you (much.) God bless you for reaching out to them.

 

think BIG

 

We are partnering with a few schools in the area to achieve this.

Make contact with one key person from each school, and impress on them in very clear terms what your goals are.. Then ask them for letters ( on school letterheads) for a commitment, and more so an endorsement.....which means they are on board with you.

 

Armed with those letters, you contact your local governmental office and ask to be put on the schedule of the next monthly council meeting. You present your mission statement in detail, along with a brief description of the fund raiser, along with a web site for people to go to.  ( get everything in place before you do this.)

 

Why:

Because local newspapers always have reporters at monthly city council meetings. They will either put a small snippit in the column about the meeting: OR they will write an article about what you are doing.... they LOVE human interest stories.... Now you have free publicity.

 

Next.

Armed with the letters and the a copy of the newspaper story you schedule a meeting with several local banks. Banks love attaching their names to local projects they think will attract new customers. They use it to bolster their image in the local community.. ( Hey look, we are good guys.)

 

You ask them for a sponsorship. Which means they get to print a nice banner to hang up in your work studio, so the whole world knows it was them. The caveat in asking for a sponsorship---- money!. Oh let me think here...... perhaps $10,000 to start.

 

Remember though... they want something out of the deal too.  Their 10K sponsorship is nothing more than advertising to them. So have your ducks in a row before you walk in. Have a paper trail of the community awareness before you walk in. The letters from the school, the city council, any newspaper articles, a space set aside on your website for your new sponsors :) ...on the home page by the way.

 

Business has its own set of political rules: need to learn them. You give them community exposure around the premise of helping under-served kids: and they give you annual sponsorship....... you win, they win.... how it works.

 

Legitimacy: letters of endorsement, city council nod of approval, newspaper articles, visits from local dignitaries ( need to do that too): they all give your program legitimacy. Your main sponsors get web site main page exposure, and you keep another section just for letters, articles, etc. Get the local mayor, police chief, fire chief, congressmen, senators, prominent business or civic leaders to visit your shop. Then take their pictures and plaster them on your website as well. The more legitimacy you can establish, the bigger the donations, the more momentum in fund raising, and much less hesitation about giving there is.

 

NOTE: when you get senators, congressmen to visit: be sure to schedule it when children are there ( its called a photo op). and make sure your local newspaper knows they are coming and when: it called exposure.   EXPOSURE = DOLLARS

 

Nerd.. 

 

I just asked a bank for $25K for a memorial project I am working on..  I meet with the full board next month... but that was after our city council bought it up in their meeting, and my presentation.... Our local paper will be interviewing me shortly.... then I will hit another dozen businessmen and community organizations for $50k... then maybe ole Auggie Busch 3rd will give me $100K..  I know the game.. played it a few times.. I started out working with the local museum, now the county museum is getting involved. After the local VFW found out, they contacted me. Now I will contact the American Legion, Rotary Club, Kawanis, KC Hall, and whoever else I think can help.

 

THINK BIG !!!!!!!!

 

----set up an advisory board (volunteer) of well known businessmen, school board members, councilmen, museum members, politicians,: this also lets people know you are legitimate.

This post will self destruct in 24 hours.

MatthewV, LeeU and Marcia Selsor like this

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All great ideas. Thank you so much for your insight! 

 

We will definitely be doing those type of things as long-term goals because they can't all happen right away but definitely things we hope to start soon. 

 

District Clay is still pretty new and we technically only have 1 owner, and 5 teachers so definitely not a large operation by any means but more publicity is definitely what we want. We are attempting to build relationships in our immediate community first and then will venture out to do more. 

 

I am just a volunteer in my position (I also have a full-time job on top of this one) so we currently don't have the means to do a lot of media coverage but hopefully soon we will. We definitely have the non-profit, a board of directors for that, and fundraising sub-committees but still just trying to get a grasp at the general business systems that need to be put into place. 

 

Thank you all for your thoughts and we will 100% use a lot of them in getting this business off the ground and in the public eye. 

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history of organisation and achievements to date.

Mission statement ,

Organisers/committee and their cvs

Strategic plan goals and objectives

Action plan, engaging Community and linked to above

Future aims linked to above

financial situation clearly laid out

Then ready for council meeting.

This documentation allows newcomers to see the exact position and type of org. They are entering support for, or engagement with.

Needs total membership input, tabled for all to see and approve of.

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