How to Launch a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign


Fundraising for your startup is never easy, but it’s even more complicated for female founders — especially women of color. Statistically, venture capital hasn’t been kind to women founders. Despite starting businesses 4.8 times faster than the national average, women only receive 2.7% of venture capital investments. And the numbers are even more dismal for women of color, who receive a mere 0.2%.

IFundWomen set out to change the game by providing a venture capital alternative: crowdfunding. Crowdsourced fundraising helps founders raise capital without giving up equity or going into debt. “Crowdfunding can be that bridge capital,” said IFundWomen founding member Olivia Owens at Nexus Louisiana Technology Park’s Dec. 10th Tech Park Academy.

Power Pump Girls founders Raina Vallot and Sherin Dawud shared their tips for successfully raising capital through IFundWomen’s crowdfunding platform. Here’s how they did it — and how you can, too.

Put in Work on the Front End

Owens said there’s more to a successful campaign than publishing it and waiting for people to find it. Here are four steps IFundWomen recommends for creating a robust and effective campaign — before hitting publish.

  1. Hone your pitch: be clear on your messaging and lay out how you’ll use the funds. Be transparent.

  2. Map your network: Who does your network consist of? Try to create buckets. One bucket might be potential users of your product or service while another might be fellow founders.

  3. Develop a rewards strategy: provide something of value, like products, services or content, to donors. Use your network buckets to customize reward offerings.

  4. Audience messaging: Develop messaging that is customized to the needs of each of your network buckets. You’ll market to each group differently.

Thankfully, taking these steps doesn’t pull time away from your startup. On the contrary, segmenting your audience and enhancing your pitch for each segment will support your long-term marketing strategy. Vallot and Dawud acknowledged that preparing for their campaign was much more work than they anticipated, but that it translated into value for their non-profit.

Create Value for Contributors

Since crowdfunding doesn’t result in equity, you need to offer something else of value in exchange for funds. Owens suggests that your campaign content be 80% value add and 20% selling. The Power Pump Girls fundraising campaign offers incentives ranging from branded merchandise to recognition on their social pages to free business consultations.

Overall, Vallot and Dawud spent less than $1,000 on their incentives, but the campaign resulted in a high ROI. They could dispense some of their rewards immediately (the recognition and consulting, for example). At the same time, items that had to be manufactured (like the merchandise) would be ordered once a final number was reached. Be transparent with your donors about when you will distribute their rewards.

Vallot and Dawud also used their campaign messaging to provide valuable or inspirational content, such as sharing women’s stories in an email campaign leading to their fundraising campaign’s launch. “How well you can tell your story is how successful your business will be,” Vallot said.

Tap Into the Power of Your Network

Your network is your crowdfunding campaign’s key to success. Base your initial fundraising goal on your direct network. It’s much better for your optics to raise the bar later with stretch campaigns than not to hit it at all, Owens said.

Leverage your network early with pre-marketing before you launch. Start with an email campaign to create early buy-in. “People believe in people, and they want to support what you’re doing,” Dawud said. Start with an incognito launch to a targeted network group most likely to contribute, Owens recommended. That way, when you launch, there are already funds in your campaign. This creates a better buy-in. Take your campaign offline, too: Share what you’re doing with friends and people you meet.

Finally, leverage your network’s network. Create and build relationships through your campaign, and learn to feel confident pitching people you may not know directly. Equip people in your network with tools (like social media templates) for sharing your story and your campaign. By leveraging their extended network, Vallot and Dawud successfully generated interest in the Power Pump Girls campaign from high-profile companies like American Express and reshares on social media by celebrities like Zooey Deschanel.

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