Crowd around

Do you want to help more crowdfunding campaigns come to life? We’re doing an open call for people that want to support crowdfunding, be it by offering their flash film making services at a special rate to copy writers with a passion for telling peoples stories. Every team needs support, and we want it to be as awesome and diverse as the Barnstoneworth FC, Waikato Sunday Soccer League 4th Division Champions 2013 crew below (one of our recent successful projects!).

Here’s an example of one of our crowdfunding campaign supporters:

Meet Connor.  He’s a film-maker based in Auckland and makes music videos with Candlelit Pictures. Connor first met the Candlelit crew when he pledged money towards their short film ‘Hold Your Breath’ last year. Now he’s collaborating with them on his own work, and on top of all this – he can help you make your PledgeMe videos too!

If you’re keen to get your name out there helping local crowdfunding campaigns fill out the form below. You (and your services) will get a shout out on a page dedicated to our crowdfunding support crews.

 

Met our match

We’ve met our match in the crowdfunding space… Matched funding.

It’s amazing the motivational power that comes from promising to match funds raised – if a projects goal is met. We’ve been toying with the idea of matched funding for a while, after seeing it work on a few individual projects last year (Back the Bull being the biggest example). This year we partnered with two organisations to run group matched funding campaigns, and now we’re hooked. We really think it’s one of the areas where crowdfunding is going to make a big mark in 2014.

Think group decision making meets pre-existing funding. So, what happens is if a project can meet it’s goal through the power of their crowd, they’ll double the funding they receive.

We’ve seen this work successfully for two groups of campaigns this year so far – one in the documentary film making space, and once for smart energy solutions in the capital. The thing we found so exciting in this space was the increase in success rates. ALL of the projects that made it into the matched funding campaigns met their goals, and exceeded them. Here’s a bit of debrief on the two campaigns run so far:

Loading Docs – Documentary Filmmaking

Last year, the Loading Docs team asked film makers what home meant to them, and the resulting 67 short doco proposals they received were so varied they almost couldn’t be compared – everyone had a different way of showing Aotearoa to the world.

From that bunch, 10 were picked to receive NZ on Air and NZ  Film Commission funding, and set to the task of match funding the rest through us over the month of February. The response was amazing – 3 projects were funded in a matter of days and all of the projects overfunded. Considering our normal success rate is 49%, the fact that all of the projects met their goals blew us away, and really showed us the power of both matched funding and a support team.

The docos funded covered stories from an intellectually disabled man, Wayne, owning a home of his own after 44 years of shared housing, through to what home means to a wide crowd in the queer community.

Watch all of the documentaries that were created here: http://loadingdocs.net/films

Smart Energy Challenge – Wellington City Council

Earlier this year, Wellington City Council teamed up with us and some of Wellington’s brightest social entrepreneurs from Enspiral and Generation Zero, to bring local Smart Energy projects to life. They wanted to find and support community-led projects designed to reduce energy use and increase clean energy in Wellington, and called it the Smart Energy Challenge.

Three projects came through in the first round – from putting solar panels on Aro Valley’s community centre, through to solar powered heating units, and a car share scheme in the city. Each project met and exceeded their goal again, showing that Wellingtonians are interested in different ways to power our capital. Wellington City Council matched dollar for dollar the target amount of each successful project.  “It was kind of like being at the horse races watching the projects”.

What do you think about matched funding?

Don’t forget the crowd in crowdfunding

We keep on reading articles that don’t seem to get the importance of your crowd in crowdfunding – so we thought we’d give you the top 5 reasons we think your crowd is the most important part of your campaign. Maybe even more important than you….

1. Your first follower is what turns a lone nut into a leader

That first person that pledges might be your mother, but they’ll also be the person that everyone emulates. They’re the first person to show that they believed in you. We think Derek Siver’s put it best, when he said that the first follower is an underestimated form of leadership in itself.

2. They’ll give more than money

If your crowd believes in what you’re doing enough to pledge – they might have even more to give. They’ll give advice, share your project, maybe even help you out with the skills that they have, or provide you with rewards to offer with your campaign. Some people seem to think that this money isn’t as smart as traditional investors – we’d like to counter that and say it might not just be smarter and more diverse, but also immensley more practical.

3. They’ll ask the right questions

Some research has recently been completed in Germany to show that consumer investors ask good questions because they actually use your product. So while they might not all be financial experts, they’ll know if your product sounds like something they’d use. And some accountants might be in that mix asking questions about your financials as well. You never know who will come out of the woodwork in your crowd.

“As is true with markets, transparency produces fairness.” Michael Bloomberg wrote in his 1997 book “Bloomberg by Bloomberg.”

4. They’ll love you – and if you’re sticky enough – that’ll spread (not like an STD)

This is a chance for you to rally your crowd around you. It’s your chance for Great Uncle Jim, Aunty Margaret and your best friend from high school to all give you some help, and get something in return. It’s also the chance for your engaged customers who tell all their friends about what you make to get involved. They’ll be along for the ride, and maybe even bring some of their crowd along too. The social cohesion around crowdfunding is often under-estimated, but it’s the secret sauce that makes this different from pure financial plays or simply buying a CD.

5. They’ll keep you real

There’s nothing like your bestie or your mum to keep you real. They’ll push you to greater things, but also question your plans and expectations with real honesty. And that transparency and honesty will keep people engaged even when things aren’t going well. But what you need to remember is that communication is key – just keep people updated folks.

The importance of your crowd resonates across all types of crowdfunding. Without a crowd, you won’t get your funding. And that crowd always starts really close to home.

An unboring Board

Often when people hear the words “The Board”, eyes glaze.

They picture bland suits. A faceless, omnipresent entity that crops up every once in awhile in conversation – as in, “The Board vetoed this decision last Thursday.”

But, please – deglaze for a moment. Because that is definitely not how our board rolls.

We really want you to see the brilliant personalities and expertise that lie behind the names of the Board roll, because each member of the PledgeMe board was meticulously hand-picked to bring their savvy heads and extreme passion for business and community to the PledgeMe table.

These folk are here to make things happen for you, so with much pleasure, we introduce our unboring Board!

Anna Guenther, Founder & Chief Bubble Blower

Super Skills:

  • Breathing life into crowdfunding brainchild PledgeMe, and nurturing this 2-year-old every day to help Kiwis fund their very own brainchildren.
  • Certified crowdfunding academic/swot – Loves crowdfunding so much, completed masters thesis at Otago University on the topic of crowdfunding with a focus on what motivates people to pledge.

What she brings to the PledgeMe table: A background in economic development and major events at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and grant administration at a research institute affiliated with Harvard and MIT.

Pet passions: Singing to Pat Benatar in the office, wearing her panda onesie, coffee, and helping people out (not necessarily in that order – and not all at the same time).

Crowdfunding Soundbite: “I’m passionate about crowdfunding – and how it empowers creators to include their communities earlier in their journey. Our potential move into equity crowdfunding just strengthens our mission of helping Kiwis fund the things they care about!”

Anake Goodall, Director (though, we call him Obe Wan Anake)

Super Skills:

  • Former CEO of Ngai Tahu; developed intergenerational asset allocation programme around its $700 million portfolio.
  • Currently serving on the boards of Meridian Energy and social enterprise accelerator, the Hikurangi Foundation.
  • Strongman background in both public and private sector as a union delegate, credit union founder, iwi authority and startup champion.
  • Governance guru* – currently holds a range of governance roles in commercial, government, social enterprise and philanthropic entities .

What he brings to the Pledgeme table: A huge brain for strategy and development. Anake doesn’t just think about what we should be doing this week, or next month – we swear, he has a hundred-year-plan mapped in his head.

Pet Passion: Especially interested in organisations that are taking the lead on a low carbon, re-localised, sustainable and resilient future; very passionate about communities realising their collective aspirations. He also loves photography, and can often be found with his camera in hand.

Crowdfunding Soundbite: “It’s really exciting to see crowdfunding remove one of the biggest constraints to innovators evolving and going to scale. Creative ventures have just slipped the leash!”

Nick Lewis, Chairman of the Board

Super Skills:

  • Polymath-esque background in engineering, finance, entrepreneurship, education and mentoring.
  • Co-founder of Wellington boutique investment bank, Woodward Partners (having done time at JP Morgan).
  • Serves on the board of Creative HQ, the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s business incubator that brought the business accelerator Lightning Lab to NZ.
  • Frequent guest lecturer at Otago University’s Masters of Entrepreneurship programme (“Where I first met PledgeMe’s unstoppable entrepreneur, Anna Guenther!”).

Pet passion: Calculators and suits aren’t Nick’s only tools – he’s also pretty powerful with his pen. Much to his wife Diane’s dismay, he took a sabbatical to write his first novel a few years back (a thriller), and he still stretches those creative writing muscles with us!

What he brings to the PledgeMe table: As an entrepreneur, banker and investor, Nick has spent most of his career at the intersection of companies and the financial markets that fund them.

As a result, he’s naturally passionate about how PledgeMe provides a platform for Kiwis who want to support projects they find worthy or (license pending) invest in businesses they find promising.

Crowdfunding Soundbite: “OK, New Zealand, over to you! Support each other’s exciting ventures!”

Breccan McLeod-Lundy, Director / Technical brain

Super Skills:

  • An incomparable technical brain combined with human empathy like no other: as the founder of Rabid Technologies Breccan supports the development of new products and companies with a belief that partnerships and relationships are more important than simple transactions.
  • An ability to discuss complex philosophical ideas with the best of them (he did his degree in it – bless him).
  • But also the ability to simplify things down so even a child could understand them – very useful with tech lingo!
  • He lets the team talk him into karaoke, when and as required.

What he brings to the PledgeMe table: A background in technology and startups, Breccan has been programming since he was six with a Commodore 64 and has degrees in philosophy and management.

Pet Passion: Watching the top 250 movies on the IMDB list. He only has 30 more to go, and is always up for discussing the merits of all the movies he’s enjoyed to date.

Crowdfunding Soundbite: “I’m excited about our potential move into the crowdfunding equity space because I believe it will release a broader base of capital to startup businesses and help New Zealand grow.”

Mark Kirkland – Director / Legal Eagle

Super Skills:

  • With a background in commercial and financial law, Mark is a founder and partner of Auckland boutique law firm, Carter Kirkland Morrison.
  • Guest lectured at the University of Otago’s Masters of Entrepreneurship programme (where he also crossed paths with Anna).
  • Speaks semi-fluent Russian – we’re not quite sure how to channel this talent for PledgeMe yet, but it’s merely a matter of time.

Pet passion: His Harley. So much so, we had to include a photo of it. Which we think plays into his adventuring, pushing new boundaries spirit – which is exactly how he’s helping us with the legal side of equity crowdfunding, forging new boundaries and demystifying some of the legalese around the capital markets.

Crowdfunding Soundbite: ”Bring on Naked Investment!”

Top 7 Quirky Ways to Market Your Crowdfunding Project

We love it when our creators get creative, and quirky. Here’s just a few (there are many more) examples of quirky rewards on some of our projects.

1. Panda Onesies

To celebrate raising $7000 for their film Hold Your Breath, Candlelit Pictures posted this pic of the team in their panda onesies along with a big THANK YOU to all their pledgers. We love this because it’s not a generic thank you. The expression on Alix’s face (right) says it all.

2. Create a Religion Dedicated To Your Pledgers

Mangle and Gruff took rewards to the next level when they promised to create a religion dedicated to anyone who pledged $1000 to help the band record a new EP. And someone did that. We’re still not sure if the band has worshipped in front of the pledgers house yet though…

3. Promise To Shave Off Your Beard

When Milarky needed to raise $5,000 to refill his graffiti stocks after painting a shark mural in Wellington central, he promised to shave off his fully vegetarian-fueled beard if he met his goal. Now Milarky is a big beardless PledgeMe success story.

4. Homekill

To raise the money needed to build a measurement tower for their wind turbine planning, Blueskin Energy went out to their crowd of Blueskin Bay residents to source rewards for their campaign. They had everything from artwork to blues lessons offered back to them, and even one resident who offered to “homekill” chickens for each $15 pledge.

5. Everyone Loves A Good Pun

Who doesn’t love a good pun? The Christchurch Art Gallery used lots of bull puns in the copy on their project, Back the Bull, which aimed to buy back Michael Parekowhai’s bull sculptures. “Bull-iever” “Unbullievable” “Unbelieveabull” “Unstoppabull” certainly livened up their copy.

6. Costume Changes

Not only did Liz Kirkman ask her crowd to send her to Perugia, Italy to work with vocal experts, but she asked her crowd to help her decide what to wear. Liz posted her costume ideas to Facebook, and her crowd could vote for the costume they thought was best.

7. More Panda Onesies

When James Shaw needed to raise the money to get himself to Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Programme, he promised to travel from New Zealand to Chicago in a panda onesie, if he got a big $500 pledge. Any reward involving panda onesies is alright with us.

“It’s not Dumb Money, it’s Love Money”

It’s amazing how fast the last month has flown by! We thought it might be time for a quick update on all things equity crowdfunding, so here goes:

Licensing update

The Financial Market Conduct Act came into effect 1 April, wahooo! We celebrated in the office, and hope you did too?

Sadly – this doesn’t mean we’re licensed yet though. We’re working through the process with the FMA (who is regulating everyone going into the space) and it’s definitely going to take a few weeks to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s. Since we’re all building this space as we go, we want to make sure we do it right.

How it could work

A lot of people have been asking what will be required to run an equity campaign. It will be a bit more than the current rewards side for sure, so it’s good everyone is asking. Here’s the minimum info that we expect we’ll need to get companies up and running with equity crowdfunding:

  • Company Name (as in the Companies office) and location / sector

  • Team details (Directors and Senior Managers)

  • Basic info around Idea, Market, Exit Plan / Treatment of Dividends

  • Financial Accounts created by an accountant or pulled from Xero (up to past three years, dependent on how long the company has been trading) – bonus points if audited.

  • Financial Forecast for the next three years – including money raised

  • Images from business / team in description / browse box

  • Business plan

  • Valuation of the company

  • Equity on offer (min target, and max overfund)

  • Rewards and a pitch video will be optional, but recommended.

The pricing will be similar to our model now (5% success fee), though there will be a few legal costs at the end (getting the final share registers and everything set up), and a cost to run background checks.

We’ll also have a Q&A forum for potential investors to ask companies questions (or offer support), and a shareholders communication portal after the campaign is successful.

Crowd update

We’ve been talking to literally 100’s if not 1000’s of people about equity crowdfunding – from all walks of business and life. The semi-overwhelming response has been excitement – using technology to make raising equity funding more transparent and efficient has really resounded with the crowd.

Our favourite comment so far though, came from a craft brewery that is looking at launching with us. When we mentioned some areas of the eco system were sceptical that equity crowdfunding wouldn’t be smart money – he responded with what is now our favourite blog title ever “it’s not dumb money, it’s love money”. Through our talks, the excitement of really skilled everyone (business people, lawyers, accountants, designers) has been infectious. They’d love to invest small amounts AND help if needed. So instead of a handful of smart investors – you could have hundreds of savvy people backing you and ready to jump in and help.

Shout out if you’d like to chat to us about this a bit more!

Crowdfunding a Choir Tour

In July of last year (2013), Christchurch Youth Choir sang their way south, performing their way from Timaru to Dunedin. In 40 days they raised nearly $2000 towards transport and accommodation costs via PledgeMe, to help them on their way.

The choir’s accompanist, Matt Everingham, set up the project on PledgeMe for the choir, and was interviewed by our Christchurch Brand Ambo, Amy Bowie.

So, Matt, how was the tour?

The CYC ‘Awakenings’ Southern Tour, as the title might suggest, was a first for the choir and a resounding success for all involved – singers, audiences, the committee and the music team. In only our second year of existence we decided to make a bold and exciting decision and plan for a tour South.

The first half of the year was filled with rehearsals and smaller concerts while we prepared the wonderful ‘Mass in G’ by Schubert and a varied programme of classical, jazz, contemporary and spiritual repertoire to take on tour. We took this ‘Awakenings’ Concert programme on the road to Timaru and performed in the beautiful Sacred Heart Basilica and then the Knox Church in Dunedin. It was a real pleasure performing in such historic venues (they seem to be missing in Christchurch!) and the audiences were appreciative and impressed by our performances.

We returned to a full house crowd at St Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Christchurch which was a real highlight to end on. Again, the music was sung superbly and despite the winter months the reaction was warmer than ever.

The tour proved to be an important milestone for the choir with so many benefits. It allowed us to really place ourselves on the map in the wider South Island and New Zealand music scene, performing to new audiences and alongside a fantastic young string ensemble. It has given us the assurance from both a musical and organisational perspective that we can go far as a young and independent choir. In the last two years CYC has grown from strength to strength, and our ‘Awakenings’ Tour was an exciting part of this.

More photos can be found in our Southern Tour Photo Album

What did you like about PledgeMe?

PledgeMe was a unique, user-friendly and effective way of gathering financial support to turn our Southern Tour into a reality. It was a great form of publicity, and teaming up with Cookie Productions we created a video from our first concert to spread the word and introduce the choir to possible crowdfunders. PledgeMe was pivotal terms of getting our message and cause out online and into the wide world (and world wide web).

How did you find the experience?

The experience was new for the choir, but it was a very flexible way of gathering support from the wider community in a friendly and positive way.

You raised nearly $2k – but were there any other benefits from the project besides money?

It allowed us to go beyond the Christchurch network of supporters and get our message out to a wider audience in New Zealand which was invaluable. It encouraged us to make a demo video of our group, which we had done professionally, which in turn boosted our publicity on Facebook and other online areas.

Any tips for choirs and/or musical groups wishing to raise funds via PledgeMe?

Publicity and getting your voice and cause out there is essential – utilise all the connections in your group! The more you can get members on board to advertise and push the cause the more support you will receive. Share, share, share – sharing really is caring when it comes to facebook and twitter! Give your group enough time on the pledgeme campaign to reach your goal – don’t be unrealistically rushed and vice versa don’t let it drag out!

We heard you recently played for The Christchurch International Musical Theatre Summer School. This is but one of many music/drama themed intensives in New Zealand and beyond. What is your advice to students who are struggling to afford such opportunities for furthering their musical education?

Where there is a will, there is always a way! Never give up on what you’re passionate about. Where opportunites seem too unrealistic, it is often even more rewarding to create your own. Where you see a need, fill that need with your own creative spark – The Christchurch Youth Choir for example emerged from a small group of committed young singers at University who saw the need for a creative musical outlet for singers post high school. Thanks to that initial vision we now have a high calibre group of some of Christchurchs’ best young singers led by our awesome Musical Director Grant Bartley. If you’re a keen young singer – watch our facebook page for audition dates!

What is in store for CYC in 2014?

With the first audition round complete, we have an exciting year ahead of us, building on the journey we had last year. It’s full speed ahead for us at the moment with plans to perform Mozart’s theatrical and action-packed ‘Coronation Mass’ with featured soloists and orchestra, as well as a Hollywood Tribute Concert to come later in the year featuring the very best choral arrangements from all the movies.

The next exciting project in the works is a CD Concert recording and on the not-so distant horizon we have plans for an Australian Tour – next stop world domination! Who knows, we might well see you back on PledgeMe soon.

Find out about our other adventures at our facebook page!

This is not an April Fool’s joke – Crowdfunding moves into equity!

What are you doing on April 1st? At PledgeMe, we’ll be putting any April Fools jokes on hold while we celebrate.

Even though it’s a day normally synonymous with silliness, a decidedly unfoolish regulation to legalise crowdfunding investments will be launched. We hope this will democratise investment – making it more accessible, transparent and cleaner through technology and your crowd.

Yes, New Zealand is finally making the long-awaited move into the equity crowdfunding space. At PledgeMe, we’ve been watching and waiting for two years – and personally, it’s a bit longer if you count my Master’s thesis on crowdfunding. Overseas, they’ve been shaking their money makers in the space for three years (in the UK) and six months (in the US). Some of the reports coming out show how valuable this new form of funding is, and that it does support further raises.

This will allow businesses to raise up to $2 million a year through licensed crowdfunding websites, such as Pledgeme, by issuing shares or other incentives to the public.

Under current regulations, crowdfunding businesses are prevented from offering pledgers any financial return for their kind support. The new regulations will empower businesses to do so without the burden of whipping up a formal prospectus or getting bogged down with more extreme financial reporting obligations. (Simultaneously raising capital and running a business is already enough of a challenge in itself, amirite?)

Why is this exciting?

  • It will streamline and educate investment rounds for newbies.

  • It moves investment from just a strategic play for the angel investors, venture capitalists and ballers of this world. With the crowd now deciding what’s worth investing in, we’re going to see those ivory tower barriers turn into bridges. Smaller ventures, which previously may have been overlooked by investors will now get the support of their networks – which might grow into towering support of its own.

  • It’s going to make those initial smaller raises from family and friends a lot more transparent – you can actually publicly share it even without a public prospectus, and everyone can see Uncle Jim got on board (and follow suit). Everyone has 50 friends, and your personal base of passionate people who really believe in your fledgling business will want to help you out. These are your ready built backers, and brand ambassadors. It’s about more than just the money.

  • But, you can raise up to $2 million – though, as we know in startup land, every little bit counts. The average raises overseas currently sit between $80-120k.

Fear not, lovely incumbents – crowdfunding in the equity space isn’t going to remove the need for angels and venture capitalists, and doesn’t stop capital from being matched further downstream.

So in the lead up to April 1st, we’re super stoked to announce we’re going for it –  we’re putting our stake in the ground and going for the license that will let us help Kiwi businesses – which lines up with our basic mission to help Kiwis fund things they care about. And, oh, how they care about entrepreneurship!

You should be excited! We’re excited. And we would love for you to join us on this adventure; we want our crowd to help us paddle in the right direction. If you have advice, if you want to partner, if you want to adopt-a-business – let us know! Let’s help Kiwis fund things they care about.

Start Up weekend – harder than a start up?

We always know when it’s Start Up Weekend. Our phones start ringing Saturday morning with participants asking how quickly we can approve their projects, and then they stalk us through social media and email to get advice and quotes for their final pitches (often under the competition slide!).

 

Photo cred: Mark Tantrum - http://marktantrum.com/

If you haven’t heard of it before, Start Up Weekend is an international event for designers, developers, and business folk to play at starting a start up – cramming weeks of validation, branding, and development into 54 hours of emotion. Start Up Weekend may actually be harder than a start up – with all the highs and lows compressed into a weekend.

So far, four teams have successfully crowdfunded through us – from Dunedin through to Wellington, and we’ve given advice to crews from Invercargill through to Auckland. We’ve had everything through from biotech jewellery through to a water management social enterprise.

This last weekend, I actually ended up attending as a mentor – mainly to support the growing start up culture in one of my fave cities, Christchurch, but also to give the rest of our team a break from Start Up weekend project rush request :)

Me and some of the mentors / teams at Start Up Weekend

During the weekend we had two projects launch, and one fund in seven hours. The excitement of real time validation in the pressure cooker of starting a start up is pretty powerful. The project that successfully funded on Sunday, One Great Gift, went on to take home 2nd place.

If you’re interested in what Start Up Weekend is, and how to get involved check out their website. They’re running weekends from Tauranga to Invers, and it’s a great way not just to test out ideas – but to network, learn, and build more of a community around the entrepreneurial space in NZ. Next one up: Auckland in May.

How to PledgeMe

Obviously, we often get asked for tips on how to crowdfund well – so, we dusted off our old guide recently and created this extended version guide (thanks Lewis!). Here’s our advice on the three P’s: Planning, Pitching, and Promoting.

1. Plan

You may think this is the boring part of a campaign, but it is the most important

1) Idea – What is your idea? Define it. Be succinct. Imagine you were in a elevator with a potential pledger and you only had 60sec to pitch to them. What exactly would you say to them? What is the hook that piques their interest?

2) Budget – How much $ do you need? You have to factor in cost of the project, rewards, success fees and credit card fees. We recommend starting with the project and rewards costs, and then adding the 8% for fees.

3) Length – How long will your project go for? We recommend between 30 – 45 days. Longer projects require more time spent promoting, but they give you more time to raise awareness (and $$). Shorter projects aren’t promoted as long, but do create a sense of urgency to raise funds quickly.

4) Team – Who is your team? A team runs the campaign. Identify the set of skills within your team. For example, who is good on the phone? Who can create a killer pitch video? Who has the largest network? Who is a social media maven?

5) Crowd – Who in your crowd will help you? A crowd is made up of pledgers or people who can connect you to pledgers. Everybody in your team has a crowd. No matter how big or small. List the friends and family of each individual team member. This is who they will ask to pledge first.

6) Marketing & Promo – How will you get people to pledge? Identify a strategy for each communication channel – it can just be a one liner.

The next few sections will help you flesh out some of the finer details.

2. Pitch

Everything on your project page must turn an apathetic person into a pledger, starting with your description:

1) Text - Explain your idea. Keep it short. Give a brief synopsis of the project, why your project is vital, how you will create change, why you need the money and what you will use the money for. The synopsis must contain a hook, what makes the project unique or interesting.

2) Photo - Boost your synopsis with images. Remember that old saying “An image says a thousand words.” If you can replace a thousand words with a single image, do it.

Rewards

Rewards drive people to pledge, and honour those who do pledge. People want to support you, but a reward should inspire them to open their wallets and pledge.Remember: Rewards should depend on the amount pledged. For example, a $5 pledge could be a simple thank you, but a $1000 should be an experience that only you could deliver.

1) Warm Fuzzies – A low cost reward that makes pledgers feel warm and fuzzy inside. For example, postcard, thank you note, shout out, mention in the credits of your film or the liner notes of your album will do. Make sure it is personalized to them. Not a generic cut/paste.


e.g. Kiwi artist Max Bellamy wrote his/her pledger’s names in the Sweden snow. (OK, this one is more like a cold fuzzy! ….)

2) Gifts- A gift might not cost you much money to make, but it’ll hold tremendous value for pledgers. The fact that they can hold the reward in their hands makes the connection between project & pledger all the more real. The trick with gifts is low cost, high return. The gift doesn’t have to be directly related to the project.

e.g. Motueka Community Garden gave beautiful bouquets of flowers as rewards. Tattletale Saints and The Feast gave totebags.

3) Outputs- Offer what you’re making/crowdfunding for as a reward. It sounds like a no brainer, but you have to actually offer what you’re making as a reward. You might be crowdfunding for a play, but it’s critical to offer the opportunity to come and see the play as a reward. The output has to be directly related to the project.

e.g. Rust and Stardust gave cushions, Seasons Eating gave calendars, and the Super Power Baby crew gave copies of their books.

4) Experiences- Anytime you meet directly with your pledgers face-to-face, it qualifies as an  “experience”. The “experience” can be any experience that only you could deliver. Backstage passes, meet and greets, a song (or even a religion) dedicated to your pledgers totally count. Again, the trick with experience is low cost, high return.

e.g. Uncle Berties Botanarium offered a “dinner party extravaganza” with music provided by Lawrence Arabia, readings from Duncan Sarkies’ novel and a sketch souvenir from Stephen Templar plus the chance to meet the cast. Ashei offered to cover the pledgers favourite song and put it on YouTube, even if it wasn’t their typical genre.

5) Crowd sourced- To really involve your crowd, ask them what they think is a fitting reward or better yet, ask them if they can offer any rewards!

e.g. Blueskin Energy asked their local community for rewards, and they responded with everything from blues and unicycle lessons through to home killing chickens as a reward.

Video

A killer pitch video is vital. You’re 117% more likely to be funded if you have a video. This is your opportunity to talk directly to your crowd. They will see your passion. The way you light up when you talk about your idea. And that is what convinces them to pledge. Videos help you connect more directly to your audience. So what makes a good video?

1) Transparency – Be honest. What is the money for? Tell them. Talk to the camera as if it was a pledger. Be transparent. What are you going to do with money? Tell them. Don’t be afraid to show your excitement or passion.

2) Credibility– To establish credibility, you need to show and tell your potential pledgers why your project is awesome and why you are awesome. Credibility is important because it makes pledgers feel confident and comfortable that their money is in good hands.

3) Visuals - To establish credibility, you need to use visuals. For example, if you’re a filmmaker raising money for your film include footage of you calling the shots on set. It will create an indelible image in the mind of the pledger and shows them that you are for real.

4) Call To Action - At the end of the video, you need to be clear and ask people to pledge. Give them very simply, easy-to-follow instructions. But it’s vital that you ask, politely.

5) Point of Difference - Find one way of making your pitch video look different from the rest.

For example, your pitch video could be special effects driven or a stop motion animation. But, it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Keep it short, sweet and simple.

3. Promo

“Don’t be afraid to throw your PledgeMe page out there…at anyone. You have nothing to lose by telling people about it and you’d be surprised at the amount and variety of people that are interested and will contribute.”

What matters in crowdfunding is your ability to convince your crowd to pledge. OK. We know that sounds obvious, but it truly is half the battle. We all have crowds. We have friends, family and fans who can pledge. The challenge is howyou convince your crowd to pledge. The wrong way is to send the same copy/paste generic message to all your Facebook contacts. The right way is to post human, engaging and quirky updates about our progress on your Facebook profile. That’s just one example. Don’t do the “hard sell”, but invite your crowd to participate. Here are some ways to get your crowd involved:

Directly

1) Pledge Drive: This is when your crowdfunding team comes together for a limited time in the same room with the goal of raising enough money to reach (all of or part of) your funding goal. Think it like a good ol’ fashioned telethon. Only your team is using a plethora of 21st century communication tools. Make sure they have plenty of food, water and wifi! We believe the combination of a limited timeframe, close proximity and funding goal is an excellent motivator. And fun! It motivates your team to perform better than if they worked independently.

2) Email: The power of your words – Email 20-30 close friends and family. Be personal. We recommend that you send the emails to 20-30 people separately. It must be personalized to them. It cannot be the same generic copy/paste email message. Ask them to support you by pledging whatever they can afford. Teach them how to share your project. Telling a neighbour about your project is just as good as a share on Facebook, if Facebook isn’t their thing.

3) Phone: The power of your voice – Ring 20-30 close friends and family. The phone is powerful because it’s hard to say no on the phone, especially the person knows you and your phone manner is polite, warm and friendly. Don’t apply any pressure. Be light and breezy. Don’t ask “How’s life?” “What have you been up to?” And then awkwardly segue into your pitch. You will be “that guy” who only asks when he wants something. Be honest about why you’re calling up front.

4) Skype & Google+ Hangouts: A video chat is twice as powerful because they can hear your voice AND see your face. Skype is powerful given its popularity, Google+ Hangouts is powerful too. Its screenshare features allows you to demonstrate how to pledge. And you can record the video as a tutorial to send to those friends and family members who are not tech savvy.

5) Text & IM: Urgency - Text and IMs should be used sparingly. Remember that to receive a text or IM often results in an alert on the recipient’s phone. This can be invasive. The recipient may look forward to receiving a text from you, but then get disappointed when they discover you’re trying to “sell” something. You could choose to use text or IM as follow up to a phone conversation. When a friend or family member promised to pledge, send a text or IM as a reminder – but make it personal.

6) Networking: Attend events. Set up coffee dates. Go to parties. Whatever gets you in front of your crowd. Use the opportunity to tell people about your campaign. We find that the appropriate time to pitch is when somebody asks you “What have you been up to?” “What are you working on?” Keep your reply short and sweet. Don’t bore them. Raise their curiosity enough so that they ask questions about your campaign. It’s better to be asked about your campaign than to “sell” it.

Social Media

The purpose of using social media is to tell the story of your campaign. Tell the story of how you went from “WOA” to “GO”! However, to tell your story effectively using social media, we recommend that you create highly-engaging content perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms. That is content tailor made for Facebook, Twitter and many more. Listed below are the many more possibilities. Some obvious possibilities. Some we hope to introduce to you. You don’t need to use everything. Be strategic, but tell your story. Make it a journey. Don’t spam.

1) Facebook: 80% of New Zealand’s online population visit Facebook. New Zealand the highest proportion of the online population who visit Facebook compared to Australia (74%), the USA (69%) and the UK (68%). So, it makes sense to leverage New Zealand’s most popular social network to promote your campaign. We believe that your personal profile is more valuable to your campaign than a dedicated Facebook page. Send personalized Facebook messages to your friends. Post updates to your campaign, post a link to your campaign from your Facebook profile.

2) Twitter: Due to the real time nature of Twitter, it’s a powerful tool for creating urgency. Use it wisely at the start and end of your campaign. For example, at the start of your campaign, you can create buzz by tweeting/anticipating the launch of your campaign. The goal is to arouse enough curiosity about what you’re launching and why you’re launching it. Near the end of your campaign, remind your Twitter followers how much you still need to raise and how much time you have left. The feeling of “time is running out” may just convince that apathetic person to pledge at last minute.

3) LinkedIn: Post a link to your campaign from your LinkedIn profile in the same way you would on Facebook. The difference with LinkedIn is its professional community. So, you may emphasize how this campaign could move the needle on your career or emphasize why your campaign is attractive to entrepreneurs and business people. You could also target your campaign to specialized LinkedIn groups or particular companies. A fleshed out LinkedIn profile will quickly establish credibility and inspire those people who are not sure about you, to pledge.

4) Instagram: Gorgeous Instagram photos and videos are a great way of updating your crowd on your progress or showing your gratitude. Find a visual way of saying “Thanks!” Post a photo to your Instagram profile and says thanks to a group of pledgers. Or, post a photo via Instagram Direct, and say thanks to an individual pledger. Incorporate Instagram Direct into a high level reward. Or, use Instagram video to tell a story about how your idea will make a difference.

5) Snapchat: Snapchat gets laughed off as the “sexting” app, but it’s the only app that almost guarantees attention. Because the recipient has mere seconds to view the photo or image, the recipient can’t help but take a look. And Snapchat tells you if the recipient has opened the snap or not. Add text, filters or doodle on your snaps. Snaps are only temporary so this an opportunity to be silly or quirky. Or, use Snapchat stories to give your crowd exclusive updates.

6) Tumblr: You could use Tumblr as a campaign blog. Post little pieces of content that tell the story of your campaign. Post funny animated .gifs. Post interviews with your team mates. Post links to media mentions. Post amusing anecdotes. Open up your ask box to start a dialogue with pledgers.

7) Pinterest: Pin your pitch video. Pin your rewards. Include link backs to your campaign to drive traffic from Pinterest to your campaign. Pin images that inspire you to do what you do best.

8) Vine: The six second loop videos you can post on Vine are the perfect way of creating and sharing anything from stop motion animation to short skits about your campaign.

Media

1) Press Releases: Your goal is to gain media attention and pick up from print, television and web outlets. For example, your local newspaper or ONE news runs a story on your campaign. The exposure from this media attention can increase your likelihood of gaining new pledges. Think of media as a giant lever. If you have a small crowd or you’ve successfully leveraged your crowd already, then you need to find a media outlet with a bigger crowd than you, and successfully leverage that. A good strategy is to send targeted press releases to media outlets drawing attention to the parts of your campaign that would be interesting to that media outlet’s target audience.

2) Blogs: Make friends with bloggers. You should consider creating an electronic press kit containing all the materials (high res images, great quotes and statistics) that make it easy for a blogger to blog about you. You want them to include a link to your campaign and/or embed your pitch video. A mention or shout out on a blog is great, but the objective should be to drive more traffic and attention to the campaign, where people can pledge of course.

Download the full guide: How to PledgeMe – detailed version.