‘From now on, you will never look at the world map in the same way as before!’ These were the words from Sir Robert Swan, in his inaugural address to a group of 92 maniacs selected from around the world for the Climate Change expedition to Antarctica. Robert Swan, 62, is the first man to have walked to both the poles. I felt extremely privileged to have a seat with my name in the room.
This seat didn’t come easy though! I had to prepare myself on physical, emotional and most importantly financial fronts to get there. The expedition costed me USD 50,000 including expedition cost, airfare, extreme weather gear and insurance. And I wish, I could have found such a blog post earlier!
I had no prior experience in raising money but I raised the entire amount. A lot of my friends and family have been asking me, how I went ahead with the process. Hence, this blogpost so that all of us can follow our passion for travel without being limited by personal finances.
There are the three approaches to raise funds: Crowdfunding, Travel Scholarships and Brand Sponsorships. I tried my luck at all these three, failing miserably at Crowdfunding but succeeding in Travel Scholarships and Brand Sponsorship. Ironically, this post is specifically on my learnings on Crowdfunding. Sometimes, there is no better teacher than a failure! After my experience, I spoke to quite a few people who were successful at crowdfunding and learnt some best practices to succeed, which I am sharing below.
How to choose the right crowdfunding platform for your project?
- Project Niche: Some platforms focus on a specific niche, say medical health, entrepreneurship or specific country projects. Be sure to select the platform which aligns with the niche of your project. I browsed through the past campaigns on different platforms and then chose www.wishberry.com as some similar campaigns, had been successful on it in the past.
- Currency: The currency of the platform should be convenient for your target audience. If your audience is limited to a country, a platform with local currency is better. If your audience is global, a platform that uses USD will be better.
- Fee Structure: Each platform has a different fee structure.
- Setup Fees: Some platforms charge a minimum amount to initiate the campaign. In return they might offer some basic marketing support.
- Commission: Each platform has a different % commission varying from 3% to 10% of the total amount raised
Choose the platform whose fee structure is convenient for you.
- All or Nothing: Some platforms will give you money only if you raise the entire goaled amount. Else the money is returned back to the contributors. Other platforms will give you whatever amount you could raise.
Why I failed at crowdfunding?
- Target Audience: My biggest myth was, that unknown people will contribute money for my expedition. In a crowdfunding campaign, only people who know you will contribute for your cause. Your target audience is to your family, friends and professional contacts.
- Campaign Marketing: You have to be prepared to spread your campaign to your target audience through social media, Whatsapp groups, emails. This activity demands considerable amount of time. You should not hesitate to ask your contacts to donate money for your cause. I could not devote sufficient time and felt awkward in asking my contacts for contributions! Be consistent to push your campaign across your contacts throughout the duration of your campaign. Target to raise 10% of the goal in first 2 days to gain the initial momentum. To achieve this, you should speak to people about your campaign before you launch it.
- Strong Story: Your campaign should have a strong story and a clear message highlighting why people should donate for your cause. Examples can be, ‘The youngest girl trying to achieve something’, ‘The first person from a community to achieve something meaningful’, ‘A social cause that will help a wider community etc. If you are not convinced to donate money to a campaign similar to yours, chances are less that other people will be! I did not have an appealing social story.
- Video: Convey your story through an effective and well shot video. It need not be professionally done. A simple phone video will also do but your story needs to come out well.
Hopefully these tips will help you to run a successful campaign. Continue to dream big and I wish you all the best for your project!
Do leave a comment if you find these tips useful!