Why do crowdfunding campaigns fail?

All the buzz surrounding crowdfunding can make it seem like some kind of magical cash machine: put your idea online, tweet a few times, and watch the money roll in. What could be so hard about that? Everyone’s doing it!

It’s true that there are many thousands of active crowdfunding campaigns online at any given time, but plenty of them will fail to reach their goal. The last time we checked, Kickstarter’s full-funding success rate was about 40 percent; Indiegogo’s was about 12 percent. ioby’s? We’re sitting pretty at 80 percent!

We think our project leaders are so successful because with ioby, you won’t be tempted to just set up a page and let the money roll in (because trust us, it won’t). We provide the coaching and support for you to plan, build, and market your own campaign both on and offline to build donor interest and trust. Then (and only then) you’ll see the Benjamins.

Of course, any crowdfunding campaign can fall short of its target. In the past decade, we’ve supported over 1,600 local leaders in raising over $5 million to improve their neighborhoods. But between those many awesome successes, we’ve noticed some common missteps made by campaigns that don’t hit their mark. Fortunately, these gaffes are all avoidable.

Avoid these pitfalls and your campaign will be a huge success![You’ve got this! Avoid these 5 pitfalls to set yourself up for crowdfunding success.]

5 big reasons your community crowdfunding campaign could fail

  • Your “5 Ws” weren’t clear or compelling.

Clear: Before they’ll even think about opening their wallets, potential donors need to know what your project is, why you want to do it, who it will involve, and when and where it will happen. No matter how big-picture you want your project to eventually become, make sure you address all these basic points early on in your campaign communications.

Compelling: In community crowdfunding as in life, winning hearts is as important as winning minds. Almost all donors will need to feel moved by your story to give you money, so make sure you talk about your personal experiences and motivations for taking this initiative.

ioby Leader Success Strategist Dominique Williams gives more tips for building clear and compelling communications in this video.

  • Your timing was off.

Timing might not be everything, but it is very important. Maybe you’re trying to avoid getting lost in the shuffle of year-end asks, waiting for snow to identify sneckdowns, or planning to paint a mural when it’s not scalding hot or freezing cold outside. While some projects are less time-sensitive than others, many are best to attempt in a particular month or season. Think about when optimal timing is for your project, then work backwards from there to plan your campaign.

  • Your budget was off.

Okay, this one applies to very few ioby campaigns, since our Leader Success Team works with every project leader to develop an achievable fundraising plan. We take a lot of time and care with this part of the process because many factors besides line item costs factor in to determine a realistic and necessary budget for a project. For example, if you have a committed and experienced fundraising team of 10 people behind your campaign, you can expect to raise significantly more money than if you’re a team of three and it’s your first time making asks.

Plus, ioby’s “flexible finish” policy allows you to edit your fundraising goal if needed (as well as your campaign deadline), so you’re not locked in to specific amounts or dates.

Great photos or videos help boost crowdfunding campaigns

[Don’t forget to include great visuals, like photos or videos, to help tell your story and win donors over.]

  • You left out the A.V. club.

As discussed above, a clear and compelling written intro to your project is essential. But a picture is still worth a thousand words, so don’t forget to also show donors what you want to do and why it matters. ioby Leaders have told us that snapping their own cute kiddos demonstrating their project has won donors over, and we’ve repeatedly seen the power of video to get a good idea across.

Read the top-notch tips video producer Liz Morrison gave ioby readers about how to tell a powerful story with lights, camera, and action.

  • You didn’t pick the right platform.

If you want to get backing for your crystal bacon idea (which, we admit, is intriguing), ioby is not the right crowdfunding platform for you. We help residents across the country raise the cash and social capital they need to get their good ideas off the ground and create positive-change in the communities they live in. So if renting goats to help maintain your town’s historic cemetery or starting a monthly wellness workshop for moms of color or equipping your faith-based nonprofit with trauma-informed staff training is what you’re about, come talk to us.

Also, you can always keep all the money you raise on ioby, even if it’s less (or more!) than your original fundraising goal. You won’t find that policy everywhere.

Lastly, ask yourself this: are you actually failing? If you’re anxious because you hit a donation slump midway through your campaign, don’t panic! This absolutely doesn’t mean you won’t reach your goal by the end. In fact, it’s pretty typical for winning campaigns to start strong, lag in the middle, then blaze across the finish line in the last handful of days. It’s nerve-wracking, yes, but not at all unusual. If you feel uncertain along the way, let us help! That’s what we’re here for; to support your crowdfunding journey.

For more on crowdfunding fails, myths, facts, and tips, see…
Six crowdfunding myths grassroots groups fall for
Our favorite fundraising tips! (video series)

Do you have an idea to make your neighborhood better? Tell us about it! We want to help.