Be the painting, not the frame

A crowdfunding campaign is like a painting in a frame. The painting is the beautiful work that the nonprofit does, the people helped and the lives transformed. It is the donor’s opportunity to be a partner in helping actualize that vision.

The frame is exactly that — the framework of the campaign. All or nothing, 24-hours or 30 days, perks or no perks, matching or non-matching, etc. The job of any good frame is to enhance the painting. If the frame overpowers the painting then you have a bad frame.

This is the problem with campaigns that follow a cookie-cutter model based-off the framework of the campaign. Shouting the same mantras repeatedly of “all or nothing” or “we have only 24 hours!” and “each dollar you give is matched!” becomes stale quickly. Solely throttling the power of your campaign’s high-pressure framework may have a short-term gain of pressuring, even coercing people to give, but it will have a long-term loss. If people are giving out of a sense of pressure or force than than inspiration and passion, then, the next time you ask them for money they will be cold to your request — even resentful.

Instead, it is critical that people give from a place of inspiration. Inspiration is energizing, positive, meaningful. You must make your campaign — first and foremost — about the painting, about your work and the donor’s opportunity to transform lives for the better.

If you have matching funds, your campaign should not be about the multiplied dollars alone. This is an entirely transactional statement. Rather, your campaign should be about how these matching funds allow for an amplified impact — how donors can transform more lives with their matched gift.

Pinnacles for sharing your painting:

I just gave you a heavy demand. Rather than following the shortcuts of a templated email series that has very little creative gusto, I’m asking you to be a digital storyteller. The good news is that there are extensive studies and best practices out there.

Critical point: 
Believe it or not, statistics can kill your case for giving. Statistics appeal to logic, and logic often dictates that problems (like hunger or poverty) are too big to solve.Stories that focus on single individuals make the problem-at-hand manageable. Stories that don’t shift attention away from the donor create emotional connections. Stories make donors want to help, and they are the most powerful form of fundraising.
Critical point:
Writing copy for donors is hard. That’s why I always think of my mom’s best friend, Rhonda.
Writing to one person changes the tone without the writer noticing. It makes for more authentic copy. And the reason why is simple: When you truly visualize a single individual reading what you write, you become more sensitive to your word choice. You start to think about how she will react when she reads what you write. It’s easier to put yourself if in the shoes of your reader.
Critical point: 
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
 
The goal of every piece of communication between an organization and its donors is to connect the donors to the people (or animals or plants or robots) they are helping. NOT to the organization they are supporting. The more they feel part of the solution to the problem, the more willing they will be to open up their hearts and wallets again and again.
 
One of the most effective ways of connecting donors to the actual cause is to eliminate the name of the organization and any “we” substitutes from your vocabulary and copy. It may sound crazy at first, but I promise that donors will not suddenly forget the name of your organization in the middle of a conversation or as they read your email. The difference between “Your donation to Panda Savers will help us save the dying panda bear” and “Your donation will save the dying panda bear” is crucial. It’s not semantics; it’s what separates a cog from a motherboard. It affects how and what your donors feel.

With these tools and practice, you can begin to articulate your story in a more meaningful, compelling and inspiring way.

At CauseMatch we understand that even with these tools many organizations will still struggle to produce stellar writing. That’s why we provide an in-house copywriter that helps each organization develop the concept/”sell” of the campaign and we even write the actual copy for the campaign page.

Your storytelling rocket-fuel is VIDEO:

In the world of the internet, video reigns supreme. Video is your vehicle for powerful digital storytelling. In 2014, video content accounted for 64% of all online content consumption. In 2019, that number will rise to 80% according to a recent Cisco study. Bottom line, people connect with and enjoy video.

In order to make the most of your crowdfunding campaign, you must have a video that is designed specifically for your campaign. This video will be your online ambassador that conveys all the key emotions and information that you cannot easily do via email, social media or even phone. A good video brings your nonprofit’s “painting” (its work) to life in a dynamic and enjoyable way. In short, your video makes it easier by asking for you.

And the data supports the power of videos too. Campaigns with videos are:

  • 1.67x more likely to reach their goal
  • 3x more clicks in your promotions since people want to watch the video
  • 4x more funds raised

Remember, just getting people to your campaign is half the battle. The other half is getting them to support you. This is why your video is so critical as compared to your description. Your video introduces you and your work in a human way. Your passion comes through from your voice, your facial expressions, your eyes. It builds trust and connection.

Just like writing good copy for your campaign, there are many resources to help you make your fundraising video. If you’d rather leave this part to the experts, CauseMatch has an in-house video team to help you make an effective, inspiring and affordable fundraising video.

In the meantime, here are some tools to help you make your own video: Film your own video by CauseMatch, Making your Crowdfunding Video Sizzle, Creator’s Tips.