The Funding Network - live crowdfunding tips

Sonal Shenai, Chief Executive of the Funding Network, gives some tips on running successful crowdfunding events

An incubator network investing in young non-profits, The Funding Network has created a community of givers supporting new and grassroots charities for thirteen years and successfully raising over £7 million for more than 1000 charitable projects. We run live crowdfunding events of all different shapes and sizes, from funding evenings for City professionals to community-based events. Hackney Giving Live, a partnership between TFN and Hackney Giving, is one of our most successful local events, giving Hackney residents the opportunity to support innovative projects working in their borough.

Whether through book clubs, dance classes, or investment circles, people enjoy being part of a group and charitable giving is no exception.  In an increasingly virtual world, attendees at The Funding Network’s unique live crowdfunding events enjoy the opportunity to meet like-minded people, social entrepreneurs and activists face to face.

With charitable projects sourced and endorsed by The Funding Network’s membership, each live event is open to the general public to attend and donate, in an inspiring, quick-fire series of presentations and pledging sessions.  When the pitches are finished, the charities leave the room and the live crowdfunding session begins. Attendees are invited to make donations to any charities that they wish to support. While no one is under any obligation to give, charitable projects regularly exceed their £6,000 funding target at the events.

Live crowdfunding, like any collective activity, relies entirely on the individuals that make up the group, and one of the greatest challenges is engaging donors and keeping them hooked. In people’s hectic lives, making giving into something to spend an evening over rather than a couple of minutes can be challenging. It takes a change of mind-set to turn giving into a social activity, but bringing people together to fund innovative projects gives them the opportunity to become part of a unique community. As one of our members recently said, “Giving is a personal journey but sharing it with other people is enriching.”

Here are a few of our top tried-and-tested tips for engaging donors in live crowdfunding:

  1. Get great projects
    One of the most effective ways to engage people is by word of mouth, and this means that you need to get people talking. Exciting projects that tell a really good story are essential; if guests feel moved at an event, they’re much more likely to remember it, talk about it and want to share it with their friends.
  2. Use social media
    Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other form of social media, having a strong online presence will really help to engage new donors. Good photos and videos will pique interest, and will help to create an atmosphere even before the event begins.
  3. Build up a relationship
    Getting people along to an event is really just the first step; to make sure they come back, it’s essential to build an on-going relationship. This means communicating between events, whether by email, social media or in person. Contacting donors to thank them or even inviting them to meet for a coffee will ensure that they feel they’re a valued part of the community.
  4. Help people to make friends
    No night out is enjoyable if you spend it standing by yourself. Making an effort to introduce people to each other and having regular attendees welcome new guests  really helps to create a sense of community. Everyone needs to feel comfortable at a crowdfunding event, and there’s no better way of doing this than making sure they’re among friends.
  5. Always provide something new
    While the purpose of a live crowdfunding event is always to raise money, having another form of entertainment on the night will keep things varied. From having a music or poetry performance to providing an activity like wine tasting or cocktail making, something new and different will keep people coming back just to see what’s new.