Finding Your Crowd: How To Get Ready For Crowdfunding

Thinking about using crowdfunding as part of your income generation strategy, but no idea where to start? Don’t fret. We asked the lovely Ashley Smith-Hammond from Culture Republic, to give us some insight into this very valuable income stream for cultural organisations.

Getting to know audiences – helping cultural organisations find their crowds – is what Culture Republic do.

In his LinkedIn training course on crowdfunding, Kickstarter expert Richard Bliss says we should reframe what we’re doing – away from trying to find funding to trying to find the right crowd. Ideally, you want a motivated group who believe in what you’re trying to do and believe that you are the right person (or organisation) to do it.

Map Your Crowd

Start with who your current audience is. Perhaps you have ticket sales data. Maybe you’ve already done a bit of audience research. Even if you don’t have any of these, you can look at some basic demographic information in your Facebook Insights and Google Analytics data. Even people’s Twitter bios – which list a geographic location and a summary of an individual’s profile – can give you some initial insights. The people who are in your audience (online and in person) have already shown they’re interested in your work, so they’re a great place to start.

Consider building some basic personas of the kinds of people who are most affiliated with your organisation. This is a good foundation for any effective marketing or fundraising, so it’s time well spent no matter what.

Now ask yourself where the gaps are. Who is missing? Do you want to reach more people like those you already connect with, or is there a new group that you want to reach?


Demographic Basics for Crowdfunding

The mix of supporters of crowdfunding campaigns isn’t an exact match with the cultural audience – but there’s definitely potential there. The average donor to a crowdfunding campaign is a 30-year-old man who has studied at university but doesn’t (yet) earn a particularly large salary. From our own research and from Scottish Government data, we know that this differs somewhat from the average arts attender, who is most likely to be a woman in her late 30s who has attended university. This isn’t like-for-like data so it isn’t an exact comparison, but it still offers food for thought. How will you get beyond the averages to find those specific groups who will be passionate about your project?


Know Your Influencers

If the job is about building a crowd, then you need to focus on people who already care about your organisation – and show it. You can start by looking at who is in your follower network that already has a lot of influence (key indicators include a blue tick or high follower numbers) and reach out to them. You can also look at who in your network mentions you or shares your content the most.

You’ll also want to concentrate attention on the stakeholders who may not yet be in your network but who may have an interest in – or could benefit from – your project, and may wish to partner with your organisation in order to make it a success. You want to find them and reach out to them early in order to begin building relationships long before you launch your campaign, so that they’re already in your corner when you kick things off.


Crowdfunding is social, so get better at social

You can learn from examples of cultural organisations who are killing it on social media (Orkney Library is a standout). They have created a specific tone and a community that absolutely works. If your social media skills are okay but not amazing, then you’ll need to make some plans about how to improve and ensure you have a team around you to up your game.

Learn from yourself too – use your social media metrics to explore what your online audiences are responding to. You’ve got lots of this data already, as every social media channel you use will offer analytics. The trick is to interrogate what you already have so you can figure out what types of messages motivate your community to like and share. This amplifies your reputation and indicates engagement.

What time of day and what day of the week do your messages have the greatest impact? Crowdfunding can have a global reach – look at your Google Analytics to see what your existing international reach is. Can you build on it? Remember time zones and plan messages that will hit at the right moment for the right audience. People in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia are the most likely to donate to crowdfunding campaigns, meaning a potential difference of 5 – 11 hours.


More ideas?

Culture Republic have a guide was initially produced to support Arts & Business Scotland‘s crowdfunding course. You can download a version for printing by visiting Culture Republic’s website.

We know our networks are hungry to diversify income streams and we’ve been thinking hard about how we can use the tools we have here at Culture Republic to help when it comes to crowdfunding. Here’s a few ideas linked to our suggestions above:

There’s lots of practical advice on our website about how to diversify your audiences and be better at digital communication. It’s all free, so check it out.

Interested? Give us a shout.


Want to learn more about data?

Museums Galleries Scotland are looking forward to welcoming Culture Republic and Sixth Sense to bring their data-driven training to the museums and galleries world. On Tuesday 27 February, Culture Republic will be putting Digital Data into Action, and then on Tuesday 6 March, Sixth Sense will be on hand to give you the full low-down on Digitising Your Marketing.

Each individual course costs £75 for Scottish museums’ staff and volunteers, and £100 for attendees from outwith the Scottish museums sector.

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