There are plenty of good reasons to decide against running a crowdfunding campaign – but a few that might not be so great. If you’re having second thoughts about your campaign, and you’ve done your research, it might be a great business decision to delay it.
But how do you know if you’re being realistic, optimistic, or pessimistic? The quick answer is: planning. A successful crowdfunding campaign takes a lot of planning, and the side benefit of doing all that work is that you’ll find out long before launch if your plans are realistic – and if they’re not.
“Maybe I could run a… oh no wait”
The first stage of running a crowdfunding campaign is quietly and privately thinking ‘hey, maybe I could run a crowdfunding campaign’. We’ll never know how many of those ideas get squashed when the next thought is ‘no, that would never work.’. Sometimes people have good reason to write the idea off straight away – but if your wobbles are due to a lack of confidence, it could be worth looking into crowdfunding a bit further. I’ve worked with people worried about putting themselves in the spotlight, but when done right, crowdfunding is about collaboration and community.
“I didn’t expect there to be fees!”
Yes, most crowdfunding platforms charge a percentage fee on the money you raise. There are a handful of no-fee crowdfunding options, but most of them are aimed at fairly specific circumstances. This can be off-putting if you’d expected to be able to keep every penny you raise, but remember, if you thought you could raise the same amount of money by simply asking for bank transfers, you’d already be doing that. Crowdfunding platforms offer you levels of reach, visibility, excitement, and urgency that are otherwise difficult if not impossible to achieve. They’re providing you with a real service, and it’s one of the costs of running your campaign.
And don’t forget, you can be completely transparent about how you’ll pay for the fees. If you look at other crowdfunding campaigns, you’ll see that most include the platform fees in their budget breakdown, and aim to raise (say) 10% more than they need in order to cover those costs.
“What do you mean, it’s hard work?”
The next hurdle is realising that a crowdfunding campaign doesn’t just magically happen around you. No matter how brilliant your idea, the vast majority of people who see – and back – your crowdfunding project will hear about it directly from you. That means you’ve got to plan it like a marketing campaign: work out who you’re telling about it, how you’re going to reach them, and what you’re going to say that will grab their attention. If you’re trying to raise £500 that may not seem too daunting – but if you’re aiming at £50,000, think hard about whether you can reach enough interested and engaged people.
There are no crowdfunding police who’ll come round and tell you you’re not allowed to run a crowdfunding campaign – but if you’re hoping to raise tens of thousands of pounds for a project with no social media presence, no mailing lists, no press cuttings, and no track record, this might not be the right time. What happens if you spend six months building your presence, building your brand, building your audiences, and then see if they’d be interested in helping you to get your idea off the ground?
“I’m panicking – but it’s too late to cancel it now”
If you’ve already started telling people about your crowdfunding campaign, but something has come to light that’s meant you want to pull the whole thing, it can feel terrifying. Walking back on something you’ve announced – in public, semi-public, or even just to a few trusted friends and colleagues – never feels great. But even so, it’s better to cancel your campaign before launch than go through with it knowing it’ll flop.
If you look at the time commitment or the amount of work involved and your heart sinks, you’re allowed to put it off! Crowdfunding campaigns can be hard work, yes, but they can also be a hell of a lot of fun. If you’re stressed and worried and stretched too thin, you won’t see any of the fun side – and if you’re not having fun with it, your audiences will pick up on that. To bring people on the journey with you, you need to be enthusiastic about your own journey.
I would far rather see creators delay a crowdfunding campaign until the right time – when they’ve got the headspace, the time, and the enthusiasm to get it right – than run one too soon. Not sure which way to go? Get in touch; I’ve talked people out of running crowdfunding campaigns when it wasn’t the right business choice for them, so I’d be happy to help you decide one way or the other.