1) Give yourself enough time to cultivate your outreach list. That means thoroughly go through each and every one of your contacts. Create an Excel sheet with a main list, then use the tabs to break down that list into smaller subsections. That way you won’t lose anyone and you can easily send reminder emails to targeted groups. I forgot about two listservs I'm on that I could have tapped into and about five individuals I never reached out to at all. Make your list as comprehensive as possible. I can’t stress this enough.
2) My video (which was fabulous, by the way; here, watch the outtakes just for fun) didn’t have my crowdfunding site on it, so it couldn’t be a standalone marketing tool. Yes, it linked to my company website, but people are lazy -- um, I mean -- prefer efficiency when it comes to giving. I also didn’t link anything in the outtakes video. Simplest but biggest oversight of all: I never specifically said, "please give money." Lesson learned! Don’t be afraid to say “We need money.”
3) I didn’t plan out my rewards early enough, so I was scrambling. I could have had some cool things for free, but I didn’t have time to go after them. I also assumed (you know what they say about assuming) a ton of people would give at certain levels, but they didn’t. Now, I have to beg the T-shirt company to let me order fewer than the minimum. Give yourself at least two months lead time to get your rewards in place. Oh, and before you even think it, no one wants a shout out as a reward.
4) Create an email that your friends/supporters can forward that is personal from them. Ask them to send at least one reminder to whomever they send it to. It's sure to overlap with someone you already reached out to. That means your mutual friends will get multiple reminders, but you won't be that pain in the tushy who floods people's inboxes. I didn’t do this and probably left some money on the table. Oh, and do not be afraid to be a pain in the tushy who floods people's inboxes. Plenty of people have the intention to give, but they need to be reminded multiple times. Goldfish have better attention spans than we do.
5) Do not assume someone will or won't give. I found myself second guessing some of the people I put on my outreach list. It's easy to do: Oh they just had a wedding; they just had a baby; they just lost their job… but you never know who is going to give. The newlyweds gave, the new baby people gave... and, okay, I didn't harass the unemployed. I'm not a monster.
Some people I was sure would give didn’t (hey no hard feelings, I’ve had every intention of giving to things and then I plumb forget despite multiple reminders), and others I never expected to hear from came out of the woodwork (OMG, do not Google image that phrase. So many bugs.) A woman who interviewed (but didn't hire) a DDG team member more than a year ago not only gave generously, she also sent a lovely note praising our efforts. So you never know...
6) I didn't do any video updates. I could have easily done a "we're halfway there!" one-minute video or a short video when we hit our tipping point, but I didn't. I think people would have appreciated something new to watch outside of my (long -- another mistake) crowdfunding video.
Bonus: Don’t be afraid of the radio silence. I would send out an email and get zero response, but then a day later someone on that outreach would donate. People are reading it and taking note, don’t fret!
Saranah Holmes, founder and president of the Daily Do Good, has more than a decade of experience in fundraising and event planning. She is available for hire as a consultant. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.