Indiegogo Success: Tips from a Campaign in Progress (Including Kickstarter vs Indiegogo)

Along with my fabulous co-authors (Daniela Papi, Claire Bennett, and Joseph Collins), I just launched my first Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Indiegogo is part of an emerging trend of crowd-funding that is now being used by nonprofits, for-profit startups, writers, and artists. We’ve raised about $8000 in 50 days, and gained a great deal of visibility and support for our project.

Check out the campaign, a fundraiser for our book and videos about effective international volunteering.

Since so many of the readers of this blog are creative, entrepreneurial types, I thought I’d share some tips from the campaign so far. In short, crowdfunding is not easy, but it can democratize the process of raising money, and put the Fun back in Fundraising.

Here are my tips; I welcome your additions and I will answer all questions posted below.

1. Indiegogo vs Kickstarter: Indiegogo for NGO.  Indiegogo is much more flexible than Kickstarter. Campaigns are less restricted and you do not have to raise a certain amount before your funds are released. (But you do get a lower processing fee if you meet your goal.) Also, Indiegogo campaigns can support an ongoing project, or personal goal (such as tuition or travel) where Kickstarters have to have a tangible creative output (such as a book, video, or product). Kickstarter has a lower minimum goal — under $50 — but Indiegogo has a minimum goal of $500. But with Indiegogo, you get funds released to you even if you do not meet your goal.

2. Video and photos. A good video is vital. Doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be engaging. We invested in a professionally made video that I am really proud of, but a smart young person with a Mac might be able to help you out if you don’t have a video budget. The Kickstarter website tells you how to make a simple, fun video at the Kickstarter school. In fact, I recommend Kickstarter School and Indiegogo resources for campaigners for anyone planning to try crowdfunding, even if you use another platform. Bre DiGiammarino, Education Vertical Director of Indigogo told me that good photos also help move campaigns forward.

3. Team effort. Aim to have a team of people involved from the beginning. The more stakeholders you have, the more people sending to their friends and family. Make it a group project, not an individual project. Your team members should be added to the campaign page with their bios. The team might include you, your key staff (or best interns), your videographer, and your best friend who loves what you do and wants to give some extra help with outreach. If you are working on a solo project such as a book, I suggest making an ad hoc team just for your crowdfunding campaign. Maybe a friend will offer a creative donation of time for a premium, for example – a personalized drawing or poem.

4. Don’t rely only on kindness of strangers. Friends and family typically provide 30% of funding — in our case, probably more like 90%. We are deeply grateful for the many friends who have supported our book. Thanks, y’all!

5. Think premiums. It’s all about the rewards (premiums for donors). Strangers will support your campaign if they like your premiums. Think of things easy and cheap to fulfill (such as a PDF recipe or an easy to mail temporary tattoo), yummy things, and creative things for higher donations. Perhaps a foodie friend will offer to cook a meal for someone who makes a large donation. I am offering Stand Up Paddle lessons as one premium — nothing to do with our mission, but a fun reward for the right person. It seems like good premiums under $100 inspire the most donations.

7. Be Searchable. For Indiegogo, make sure you have key terms in your title (such as Book or Video) since the search feature is a little clunky and the title is all important. In Kickstarter, the categories work a bit better, especially for writers.  Even if you have an international team, you might want to present your project as US based for Indiegogo.

8. Don’t rely on Facebook. For your outreach strategy, include email, not just Facebook. Facebook seems to have a algorithm that hides Indiegogo postings from some of your friends. Very annoying. To get over that block, tag people when you post about the campaign on Facebook. And ask Facebook friends to repost, and friend your campaign.

Our campaign is a fundraiser for a book and educational videos to make international volunteering more effective. Take a look at our Indiegogo campaign, watch our fabulous video, and let us know what you think in the space below.

What are your tips for crowdfunding success? What are your favorite indiegogos or Kickstarters, and why?

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About Zahara Heckscher

Writer, educator, social justice advocate. Co-author of How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas (Penguin, 2002) and forthcoming Volunteer Travel Reimagined: The Learning Service Guide. Instructor at The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD and co-inventor of The Poetry Game. Mom, wife, cancer thriver, advocate for a world of justice.
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