Secrets of a successful crowdsourcing campaign

U.S. Rotary members Calvin and Rachel Litwiller of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, volunteer in Zambia for Building Homes for AIDS Orphans in Africa. The project is attracting support through its post on the Rotary Ideas crowdsourcing site.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Building Homes for AIDS Orphans in Africa, a Rotary Ideas project

In case you haven't heard, a man raised nearly $60,000 to make potato salad as a spoof on a popular fundraising site. If he can do that, a campaign to raise money for feeding hungry children or building a school in a war-torn country should be a snap, right?

Wrong. The Internet is littered with humanitarians struggling to raise the money and gather the resources for projects that could make a positive impact in the world.

So, what is the secret to a successful crowdsourcing campaign? It's simple, really: make it easy to give. Here are some ways you can make it easy for supporters to back your project.

Use Rotary Ideas. Rotary's crowdsourcing tool makes it easy for those who have money, time, or supplies to find projects they want to be a part of. It's also easy for you, the project planner, to post a project.

"We've gotten eight volunteers to help build huts for AIDS orphans using Rotary Ideas," says Paula Winland Van Zyl, a member of the Rotary Club of Livingstone in Zambia. Where Van Zyl lives, access to the Internet is spotty at best, so she relies on Rotary Ideas to promote her project. "Being on the site has really helped us find the volunteers we so desperately need."

Add a PayPal account. Instead of requesting one large contribution, suggest smaller amounts, and give donors an idea of how the money will be used. Offer an online payment option, like PayPal, to make it easy to donate small amounts to your project.

Find a partner. Some projects are just too big for one club. If you need more than $1,000 to carry out your club's service project, consider using the Partner option in Rotary Ideas and make it easy for potential partners to find you. You can add as many Partner requests as you need. What's more, projects seeking partners could be featured on the Rotary Ideas landing page or in Rotary's publications. 

Write inspiring descriptions. Write a project description that inspires but doesn't overwhelm potential contributors. Easier said than done? Here are some tips for making your project's description easy to read -- and your project easy to support:

• Write as if you're talking to a friend or colleague; avoid corporate jargon and highly technical terms
• Break large blocks of text into shorter paragraphs of one or two sentences
• Use section heads to make it easy to scan for the most important information
• Use bullet points for lists
• Don't use all caps
• Reread the description -- or better yet, have someone else read it -- for spelling and grammar errors

Define the project's goals. Set clear goals and identify the resources needed to achieve them. Again, short, well-written text that is organized into sections with bullet points can help supporters easily see what you're trying to achieve.

Take a picture. Make sure to include one with the project description to show potential donors what you want to do or, better yet, who will benefit. All photos should be free of copyright issues.

Say thank you. Immediately after receiving a contribution, thank the donor. Include information about any additional steps the donor must take to complete the contribution. Later, send progress reports on the project and details about additional funding needs. They just might be inspired to give again.

Take advantage of social media. Include a link to the Rotary Ideas campaign on your club's Facebook and Twitter pages. Share updates, including funds raised and support still needed. Add links to clubs' websites, newsletters, and email addresses.

Find a project to support

Learn how to use Rotary Ideas:

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