Planning your Project Roadmap with Girls Driving for a Difference
Changing the world while driving an RV is no easy feat. Yet that’s exactly what a group of Stanford d.school students set out to do! Last summer, Katie Kirsch, Jenna Leonardo, Rachel Chung and Natalya Thakur, drove across the country in an RV for 14 weeks, visiting dozens of middle-schools nationwide. Their mission: Teach young girls how to become leaders of social change. Before hitting the road, the Girls Driving for a Difference (GDD) team launched a Kickstarter to fund their educational quest
Co-founder Katie Kirsch recounts her experience for our latest Creator Hangout; sharing best practices and how they developed their roadmap. From team brainstorms to generating press, learn how you can navigate your campaign successfully.
Step 1: Pick your destination
The planning process
The GDD campaign focused on obtaining funds for an array of needs: The RV, workshop materials, mechanical repairs , as well as food costs. After diligently reviewing their budget, GDD set a goal that allowed them to execute their project effectively.
Prior to posting your campaign online, it’s important to understand the full scope of your project. How much funding do you need to make it happen?
Pulling from a common Stanford d.school practice, Katie was constantly sketching out ideas, building prototypes and looking for opportunities to connect with right partners. The GDD team also spent a significant amount of time researching mobile Kickstarter campaigns. Their diligent research allowed them to develop a realistic outreach strategy plan. They paid close attention to what rewards other creators offered, and how they structured their campaigns. One helpful example was the SparkTruck, an educational caravan that taught maker-based activities in the classroom.
Seek out like-minded projects that inspire you to take action with your own campaign! By studying similar projects, you gain a better understanding of how you can engage with backers and cultivate meaningful partnerships.
Step 2: Start your engine
Create an awesome video
Your campaign video is a entertaining and efficient way to gain people’s attention fast. It should excite your community, attract press, and invite new supporters to join your journey. Find creative ways to get in front of the camera and share your pitch. GDD invited viewers into their classroom to meet their enthusiastic students. Their video successfully illustrates why Katie’s team is passionate and fully committed to making their project happen. Watch the video here:
Continue this conversation on Campus: What tips do you have for making a great project video on a limited budget?
Step 3: Look at your map
Spread the word about your project
Successful Kickstarter campaigns need an outreach strategy, along with a solid communications plan. It’s important to spread out your message so it reaches as many people as possible, this includes gaining press mentions. Gaining publicity from a newspaper, online publication, or podcast can help you gain momentum. Consider each feature or blog post as a tool to drive traffic to your project page. Use the Kickstarter angle to elevate your pitch, and build your community engagement strategy around it.
“The more communities we [Girls Driving for a Difference] can reach all over the US, the better!”
Make sure that you research popular online publications, journalists, and influencers that can provide your campaign with the greatest exposure. Identify specific reporters and pitch your story to them. Ultimately, Kickstarter projects are successful when the communications plan is strategically focused. The aim is to increase your project’s visibility online and off. Below are a few press mentions that GDD received during their campaign:
- IDEO Futures Podcast
- Fast Company: Strong Female Lead
- Pulse Magazine
- The d.school Whiteboard
- The Stanford Daily
- Design for America’s Highlights of 2014
GDD leveraged press mentions and their existing network to engage more backers. Katie noted that her organization also found sponsors, promotional support, and partnerships with communities across the country.
Step 4: Plan your road trip playlist
The logistics behind GDD ranged from managing finances to coordinating over 53 workshops with over 100 middle schools nationwide. Together the co-founders developed an educational curriculum that reimagined the design-thinking process for a new generation of young learners. And let’s not forget, everyone hopped in the driver seat during the journey! This all required seamless teamwork. Throughout the process, the team held each other accountable and kept each other motivated throughout the journey. “No one direction is necessarily right. It’s much more important to have everyone’s voice be heard. We’re all able to contribute to the creative process,” says Katie.
“No one direction is necessarily right. It’s much more important to have everyone’s voice be heard. We’re all able to contribute to the creative process.”
Step 5: Cross the finish line
You’ve raised reached your funding goal! What’s next?
The GDD team used Kickstarter to take their idea from classrooms at Stanford to young girls and classrooms across America. The organization is continuing to grow beyond the road trip. Katie is now devoting her senior year to focusing on the initiative; creating more prototypes and materials to host future GDD workshops.
Your project is the beginning of a new journey. The community you build will be with you long after your campaign is complete.
A postcard from the road, from Katie:
“Launch a project! I have learned so much through this process. I left feeling really inspired. I know I want to create even more things and do more entrepreneurial work. Now, I have a network that can support me in doing those things. That feeling is priceless. Kickstarter was tremendously helpful.”
Creator Hangouts are designed to impart creator insight and firsthand knowledge to the Kickstarter community. Watch more Creator Hangouts videos here! And follow @KickstarterTips on Twitter for daily updates!