Most crowdfunding campaigns start with a person or team who’ve got three things: 1) a brilliant idea, 2) no money to make it happen, and 3) willingness to put in the time and hard work. Sounds great – what else do you need?

For crowdfunding, you need a crowd – you need backers. You can’t just put your great crowdfunding campaign online and hope the money will roll in. You can’t even do it by throwing the link at Facebook a few times a week and hoping that’ll catch someone’s attention.

The ideal scenario is to be running a crowdfunding campaign in direct response to a community’s stated needs – a group of local residents fundraising to create a community garden, a cafe responding to its customers’ requests for extra facilities, a dance school raising funds to set up its own premises. This means you have a clearly-defined audience straight away, but it also means you already know that audience want to see this happen, and why. With this kind of campaign, you probably know ahead of time almost all the people who’ll back it – anyone else is just a bonus.

The next best thing is running a campaign that meets the needs of your existing audiences or customers, even if they haven’t directly said they want it (yet!). That might be as practical as improving signage at a venue, or it might be pivoting a business to offer a much-loved service by post as well as in person. As a creator, you already have ways to contact these people (because they’ve signed up for your mailing list or connected on social media), they already know who you are, and they already trust you (because they like your work).

Don’t have many existing contacts – or not many specific to this business/project type? You can still make things a little easier for yourself if you’re planning a crowdfunding campaign for a project that really meets the needs of a clearly-defined community, big or small – whether that’s an RPG with truly diverse character choices and designed by a team of BIPOC creators, a new theatre piece devised and performed by D/deaf practitioners aimed at young D/deaf audiences, or a short film sharing the voices of a community who never get to speak for themselves on screen.

If you’ve got to this point and you’re still shaking your head, it sounds like you’re planning a campaign when 1) you don’t have m/any of your own audiences or customers, and 2) your project may meet your own needs (a play you’ve always wanted to write/an app you’ve sketched out/an idea for a local business) but it isn’t meeting the needs of a community that’s already out there. Perhaps it’s a brilliant idea, but you haven’t quite dug down into who would benefit from it or who would get excited about it. But when it comes to running a crowdfunding campaign, you need to know ahead of time who’s going to back it, why they’re going to back it, and how you’re going to tell them about it. Without that clarity, you’re going to struggle to get people excited enough to trust you and to back it. If you’re new to the idea of target audiences, Hootsuite have a great overview on how to find and target your social media audience – and, clue, “your target audience is not ‘everyone’ (unless you’re Google)”.

If you’re still struggling to think of who your audiences are, I’d be happy to talk you through it – book a free 30-minute discovery call with me and we can talk through what your project is, who your audiences might be, and how feasible it is (now and in future!).