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Community is important for crowdfunding

At no other point in our history has it been easier to communicate and engage through social media, mobile phones, and web applications. We can instantly send an email, upload a video, and post updates.

Online fundraising and crowdfunding sites have made it seamless to gather the funding we need to sustain and scale social impact too.

Yet with the plethora of communication and fundraising tools, we all still struggle with online fundraising and crowdfunding.

How can we solve this mystery?

It takes a shift in perspective. Ironically, the key to crowdfunding or online fundraising isn’t asking for money. It’s not aiming for the wealthy 1%. But instead, it’s about building and engaging a community of followers.

You have to engage and cultivate a community that believes in your idea and are ready to help you change the world. Let’s watch Seth Godin, put it in finer words in his TED Talk.

There are three specific benefits of creating a community when you do crowdfunding or online fundraising.

1. Community gives you smarter decisions

Simple insects like bees and ants make individual small decisions. The aggregate of these small decisions are called swarm intelligence, which allow them to do great things like finding the most efficient way to build their hive (or colony) and scavenge for food.

When you have a community, you’ll be able to harvest their knowledge for your online fundraising or crowdfunding campaign. They’ll help you make smarter decisions on messaging, storytelling, as well as strategy.

2. Community gives you deeper reach

Invisible Children’s KONY 2012 video campaign received over 90 million views. It would never have gone viral without the support and sharing of their community.

When you have a community, it allows you to leverage their personal social networks to get your story shared. This helps you raise awareness as well as makes your story trustworthy and credible to a new audience.

3. Community brings easier funding

Community allows you to use social fundraising techniques such as peer-to-peer fundraising. The methods empower you to reach donors outside of your own networks.

Community is built on true believers

The true believers in your community are a select group of people that are your greatest champions. They’re like the SEAL Team 6 of the US Navy.

You know who they are.

They’re the ones that drag their friends to your event, share the latest news about your nonprofit/project, and create fundraising pages in your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign.

True believers are crucial to the success of your crowdfunding or online fundraising campaign. They are the linchpins that pull everything together.

Characteristics of a true believer

True believers in your community display these characteristics. Use this to identify them so that you can leverage them effectively.

1. True believers are responsive

True believers respond to your emails, requests for volunteers, and social media posts. Their responsiveness is an indicator that they want to be engaged. In social media, they are the ones that share your content and stories.

2. True believers are giving

Your true believers give money (it doesn’t matter how much) but more importantly, their time. Their time demonstrates commitment in giving their most valuable asset.

3. True believers have sustained passion

Things that burn the brightest burn out the quickest. What you want to look for are people that have stuck with your nonprofit for an extended period of time. True believers will stay with you during challenging times. Beware of the irrationally exuberant types as they’ll be the first ones to jump ship when things get rough.

Forming a tribe for fundraising

crowd-social-media-influencer

We call true believers your tribe. Your tribe is your core team of community members that you can depend on to launch and sustain your crowdfunding and online fundraising campaign.

They are hubs of individuals that inspire and rally other people towards action.

Follow these four steps to form a tribe.

1. Tell a story

Your story is unique and unlike any others. Use storytelling to inspire people to become passionate about your cause.

2. Connect your tribe

Reach out to those who have been talking about your nonprofit or those that have reached out for opportunities to do more. Add these people to your tribe.

Make your tribe feel like they’re on the “inside” by giving your tribe a name. They need to feel like they are part of an exclusive group so that they can begin to take ownership of the cause.

Communicate special news or put them on a special email list that only tribe members are a part of. We’ll talk about a few tools you can use to do this.

3. Create tribe leaders

As your tribe grows, you should cultivate leaders or a core team of members that will lead the tribe. This can be based on region, employer, lifestyle or any other subset.

These tribe leaders must show an extraordinary ability to organize and rally people as well as commitment and responsibility to the cause.

4. Cultivate

Cultivating your tribe repeats steps 1, 2, and 3. You need to communicate and engage with them often.

Using a tribe for crowdfunding & online fundraising

When it’s time for your fundraising campaign, use your tribe to make the greatest amount of impact.

Start with these three steps.

1. Set defined goals

Figure out what you want your tribe to accomplish. They need a goal. It’s best to be specific so they can take action on exactly the areas that can have the most impact.

2. Give authority

Your tribe can do great things if you empower them with the authority to make decisions. Give them the ability and permission to create.

3. Be inclusive

Focus on the the people that you think will be likely to take action. Don’t worry about if they have donated before – or how much they have donated. This might be a great way for them to donate for the first time.

Tribe building tools

Creating a community requires you to scale your ability to develop relationships. You must leverage tools that help you communicate and engage with your tribe with efficiency.

Some nonprofits have the resources to hire community managers just for this activity, but if you don’t, here are four tools that you can use to get started.

1. Twitter lists

Twitter lists are curated groups of Twitter users. These lists can be private or public. When you view a list timeline, you will see a stream of Tweets from only the users on that list.

If you’re following a lot of people on Twitter, you can use Twitter lists to keep a closer tabs on tribe leaders and new community members. Learn how to setup your own Twitter list.

2. Private Facebook Group

Facebook groups allow you to share things with only certain people on Facebook, instead of your whole social network. You can post updates, polls, and other content only to those groups. These groups can be private too so only invited people can join.

To build community, you should create an exclusive Facebook group for your tribe members. It will set these people apart which will create ownership. Learn how to use Facebook groups.

3. Email lists

Over 250 billion emails are sent a day. It is the most ubiquitous method to communicate to any age group. Creating email lists allows you to quickly and easily mobilize your community when Twitter or Facebook is not appropriate.

Google Groups as well as segmented email newsletter lists are two tools that can be used to organize your community.

Rob Wu is the CEO and a Founder at CauseVox. Recently, he raised $125,000 in 10 days via social media and crowdfunding.

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