Essential Ingredients for Growing Your Community
“What are you going to do to galvanize your network and find others outside of your network with an affinity for your project” — Kathleen Minogue, Founder, Crowdfund Better
Step 1: Plant the Seeds
The first step to rallying a crowd for your crowdfunding campaign is to start with your own network. Create a list of everyone you know and how you know them: Are they colleagues from work? Church? Clubs? Civic groups? Family? Friends? Social media? Contacts on a mailing list?
By creating a segmented list, you will be able to target your communications to be more personal and relevant to each specific audience.
You will also want to group your network based on their likelihood and capacity to support you, their potential to become champions for your project, contributors of sponsored rewards and other ways they might help. Identify early supporters who you know will donate to
the campaign and the estimated amount they will contribute. These contributors will help you create early momentum and reach the desired 30% commitment before you launch.
Step 2: Nourish the Soil
Once you have your network organized, you can begin nurturing your contacts by communicating regularly, sharing your excitement about your story, asking them for feedback and ideas, and making a point to engage with them. Author Gary Vaynerchuck describes the strategy this way, “Give, give, give, and then ask.”
Start early. Give your audience information, communication, and an invitation to participate long before you ask for anything.
Identify individuals who will act as “Campaign Champions.” Champions agree to actively promote the campaign and re-share campaign updates and social media posts throughout the duration of the campaign—reaching people outside of your initial network.
Step 3: Grow the Crowd
Identify and mobilize affinity groups. Affinity groups are people linked to you by a common interest or purpose. Consider all the affinity groups (informal and formal) that you belong to.
- How will members of these affinity groups benefit from your campaign?
- What might they gain from your efforts. What can you offer them? (Sponsorship opportunities, co-branding, matching donation opportunities)
- What are the affinity groups of your team members? Strategize how to best reach out to each of them.
If you’re planning to break outside of your first-degree connections, you’ll need a specific plan to spread your message even farther! How can you engage local media outlets, influential publications, blogs or organizations that would be interested in covering your story.
4. Celebrate Your Harvest!
Watch as those roots take hold and your affinity groups spread the message of your Why.
A turnip makes a great metaphor for affinity groups. The big tap root is like the core network of the Campaign Creator—friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors. The smaller roots are like all the groups connected to the core that might have an interest in the project.