Creating a project
One of the main reasons sponsors prefer crowdfunding to traditional fund-raising drives is that they get to see exactly where their money is going. A project is your idea, but with a well-defined proposal, funding target and completion date.
What title should I give my project?
Make it simple and specific. Remember - it's a title, not a description. It needs to grab attention, but should also include your club or society name/initials.
What should I include in my project?
Sponsors will need to be able to judge whether they think your project is feasible. In order to do this they will want to know the following:
- What are you trying to do?
- How are you going to do it?
- How will the funds be used?
- What have you achieved already with regard to this project?
- Who are you and the other Creators on your team?
If you are after sponsorship to cover the general costs of your project, think about how you could break this down for potential Sponsors. How will you spend the funds? What will they allow you to do? Over what period will the funds be used?
When will my project go public?
Once you've created your project you can submit it to us. If it meets all of our guidelines we'll make it available to the public. But please note that you can't edit your project after submitting it. However, you will be able to add updates.The Crowdfunding Handbook
Funding a project
The Open University uses an all-or-nothing funding model. If you don't reach your minimum needed by your completion date, no money changes hands. This way, you're not expected to carry out your project or deliver rewards with insufficient funds. We suggest choosing the minimum funding target that allows you to carry out your project, pay fees, and deliver rewards. There is no limit to the amount you can raise and projects often raise more than their funding target. You need to raise enough money to complete your project as promised.
What do I need to consider?
When calculating how much you need to raise think about how much your rewards might set you back. You will need to prepare for the maximum costs you could possibly accrue and adjust your target accordingly. But remember, you only need to deliver your rewards if your project reaches its minimum and after you have received your funding. This means that the funds you receive will cover the cost of rewards.
Postage and Packaging
Don't forget that it will cost you to send the rewards if your project is successful.
You will also need to consider the small fees that apply. PayPal fees are approximately 3.5% depending on the size of individual donations and your PayPal account type. Stripe fees (for accepting credit or debit card payments) are 2.4% + 20p per donation. We recommend you add a few percent to your targets to cover these fees.
Projects on The Open University can last from 2 weeks to 3 months. However a longer project isn't necessarily better. A project on The Open University takes a lot of work so you might not want it to go on for an entire term!
What do I need to consider?
The larger your funding target or your minimum needed the longer you are likely to need to raise it.
Receiving the funds
You only receive payments IF you have hit your minimum target and AFTER your project's completion date. PayPal payments take up to 24 hours to arrive in your account. Don't forget that PayPal take transaction charges of approximately 3.5% of each donation. Stripe payments (credit/debit cards) take up to 7 days to arrive in your account. Don't forget that Stripe take transaction charges of 2.4% + 20p of each donation.
A shorter project can convey a sense of urgency to Sponsors. That's why we've found that projects up to a month in length tend to be more successful. A shorter project focuses your promotional efforts and shows confidence in your project.
One of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving a successfully funded project is to make a video. Videos allow Sponsors to gain more of an idea of who you are and what you're doing. It builds trust between you and the Sponsors, and this is essential if they are going to make a donation. Sponsors need to have a feeling that you're genuine and you intend to deliver.
What makes a good video?
A good video is you! At its simplest, a good video can just be you speaking into a camera. The basic idea is to give people an idea of who you are, what you're doing and why Sponsors should care about your project. Oh, and be yourself!
- Camera Many computers come with integrated cameras. These are fine. You may also consider using an external digital camera. DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras give awesome results.
- Sound Reduce background noise as much as possible!
- Light Lots! Record in the day and use extra lighting.
- Editing Windows Movie Maker (PC) and iMovie (Mac) are great.
Vimeo has great advice!
What types of video can I use?
How large can my video's file size be?
Vimeo's basic account has a limit of 500MB per file and 5GB for premium accounts. YouTube has a limit of 2GB.
Can I use music on my video?
Yes, but only if you have permission to do so from its owner! Alternatively you can use any music from http://freemusicarchive.org/ with artist permission.
Rewards are what you give Sponsors in return for their donations. Rewards give an added incentive for people to sponsor your project. Rewards need to be well priced (matched to the appropriate donation level) and creative. The better your rewards, the more likely you are to achieve your funding target. Sometimes rewards are so desired that projects achieve many times their funding target.
What makes a good reward?
A good reward is something which you yourself would want. Put yourself in the shoes of a Sponsor. What would be the most unique and appealing thing you or your group could provide? A Sponsor of a sports team would probably want your team's jersey. A Sponsor of a band would probably want a CD. A Sponsor of a drama group would probably want tickets to a play. If you'd want whatever's on offer then it's likely to be a good reward.
Rewards should always have connection to your project. The most common rewards we've found fall into four categories:
- Products does your project or idea lead to the production of anything? CDs, DVDs, prints, T-shirts or badges? Place these at a donation level that matches their street value.
- Mementos signed photos of your project, thanks in the credits, anything meaningful!
- Experiences tickets to the concert or match, dinner at your college. Sponsors want to connect with you!
- Collaborations your Sponsor gets to sing on your album or play at a training session.
How can I promote my project?
Start by sending a friendly, personal, email to family and friends. Include a link to your project! Once they have pledged your project begins to look more attractive to others. This is a good time to get posting about your project on Facebook, Twitter, other social networking sites, and your blog. College, halls or department newsletters are also a great place to raise awareness.
You shouldn't overwhelm your networks with group messages, but gentle reminders throughout the course of your project will be beneficial. Remind them of your deadline. However, nothing beats a personal touch when asking for sponsorship!
Your society's members networks
If you are creating a society, club, team or department project you have many more networks to approach. Get your members to contact their friends and family as well!
Look on Facebook or LinkedIn for former students and staff of your school, department, course, club or society. Often alumni will lie dormant on these pages until reactivated by something like a sponsorship proposal. University and college forums on Linkedin are also a good place to post up your projects and get a discussion going. The more people you have talking about your project, the better.
Your Alumni Office keeps contact information on alumni, and in some cases, may even know what societies they were members of and what their interests are. If you are friendly and gracious, and make it clear to your Alumni Office Director that you will use the contacts responsibly, they may be kind enough to reach out to some alumni who would be interested in your project!
Use student or local newspapers and radio stations to get the word out. Media attention will help you reach out to people outside your immediate networks.
The real world
Get out there! Posters, flyers, meetings, parties... not everyone lives in cyber-world!
Don't overdo it. This won't reflect well on your project, or your university, college or school. Also, please don't use other Creators' projects to promote yours. That's not cool!Download Promotion Guide
Updates are a way of interacting with Sponsors. They breathe life into both your project and are essential to the sponsorship process.
Regular updates show anyone viewing your project that you are committed to it and that there is someone with a personality behind it. Your sponsors will be notified of each of your updates by email. If they like what they see they are more likely to tell their friends about you.
What kind of updates should I provide?
Is your project going well? Short messages let Sponsors know that your project is progressing well and their contribution is being used productively!
Small milestones show that the project is making progress and will encourage new Sponsors that you deserve their cash!
Share reviews, press releases, photos and videos! Sponsors love to see how their donations contributed to the success of your project.
Your project was successful!
Now you have to deliver the rewards you promised. This may seem daunting at first, but we'll provide you with plenty of information to make it easier for you. Get your friends, colleagues, or fellow society members to help.
The Open University will provide you with all the information you need regarding your Sponsors. Names, rewards, delivery addresses. In case you need any more info, we'll also give you their email addresses so that you can contact your Sponsors directly.
Let your Sponsors know that their rewards are on the way! Ask them to let you know that it has arrived safely. And please, don't forget to celebrate!The Crowdfunding Handbook