5 Ideas from the Inbound Movement that Crowdfunders Need to Embrace

While we all try to cut through the sea of email blasts, disruptive ads, and evening phone calls (courtesy of your neighborhood — just kidding, they’re outsourced — telemarketer), the inbound movement is quietly creating value by answering their customers’ questions in the digital places where they already spend their time.

There is an evolution happening in the buyer-seller (or in our case, donor-fundraiser) dynamic. As this dynamic changes, we must replace power struggles with partnerships. Because we have embraced this shift, four of us from USEED packed up our bags and flew across the country last week to attend the INBOUND 2015 conference hosted by Hubspot.

Here’s what we learned.


1. Don’t sell yourself, start a movement

Many passionate team members with impressive credentials and beautiful crowdfunding campaign pages fail. If you were to give these teams a checklist of everything that must be done before they launch their campaign, they would have checked off all of the boxes with ease and then created more boxes to check.

Teams like this say things like, “What we are doing matters, and people tell us all the time that they want to donate to us,” or “We have a history of securing large gifts from donors – crowdfunding will be easy!”

The problem: People don’t donate to philanthropic initiatives because a campaign page looks good. They don’t do it because the team is passionate and deserves funding. People don’t even donate because they believe in the cause. After all, there are thousands of causes out there that a philanthropist might believe in. How do they decide which to engage with?

Crowdfunding supporters donate to reflect part of who they are. As a crowdfunder, it is important to recognize that you are a leader to your community and a catalyst for change. It is up to you to share your crowdfunding campaign in a way that makes others feel as though they are participating in that change with you, not standing on the sidelines waving as you pass by.

When others give their time or money to you, they are saying, “This campaign is tied directly to who I am as a person, and I want to be part of it.”

How powerful is that?!


2. Create 10% messages

Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Carmen Simon shared some great insights with us this past week regarding content abundance and how we can create memorable identities for our businesses and organizations in the midst of a chaotic marketing landscape.

On average, people remember only 10% of what you tell them. Dr. Simon contends that what people take away from an interaction with a company defines that company, so we must craft our “10% messages” – messages that are succinct and powerful.

A crowdfunder should create their message to stay with people long after they leave the campaign page. A person’s decision to donate after they leave the page is tied directly to their memory of their interaction with you, and that memory is a result of how much attention they paid.

To garner attention and leave a lasting impression, we must strike a balance between recognition and surprise. Avoid jargon by building on top of what your potential donors already know, but add subtle surprises to stimulate and keep your audience engaged. If you do your job well enough, you may give your donor a new perspective on the world. This is the ultimate win.

Dr. Simon left us with this: “It is a luxury for the modern communicator to be on someone’s memory… What is your 10% message, and are you in control of it?”


3. Understand why people share things

When people share videos, articles, and – yes! – crowdfunding campaigns, they are saying one (or more than one) of three things:


  • This is helpful
  • I can use this to build relationships
  • This says something about who I am as a person


Are you creating a movement that people would be excited to share with others? As a volunteer fundraiser, you have a unique ability to engage others in the network effect. Once somebody shares your campaign to their own community, your community will grow exponentially. Make sure you are creating something worth sharing.


4. You will go down

Perhaps the most moving speaker of the INBOUND 2015 conference was Brene Brown, beloved author, researcher, and storyteller best known for her TED Talk on vulnerability. She eloquently advised, “When you are courageous and innovative, you will fail. It is not a risk, it is a certainty. […] If you are brave enough often enough, you will go down.”

When creating an inbound strategy for your organization, you are committing to transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability, and your world revolves around your customer’s experience before you’ve ever even met them. There is no vulnerability in brute force marketing. Vulnerability shows itself when you create connection and value within your community.

Crowdfunding is a scary world to live inside of, especially when you crowdfund for something that you care deeply about. You will often find yourself in challenging and humbling places when you share your vision with the world in meaningful ways.

Embrace those places and allow yourself to have those experiences. After all, they shape who you are.


5. Change your inner monologue to “Can I do it?”

There is a reason Bob the Builder asks “can we fix it?” before acknowledging that yes, we can.

As you and your team prepare for your campaign page to go live so that you can connect supporters and donors to your cause, you might find yourself preparing for the big day by repeating, “We can do this!” And before you send your first email to a potential donor, you may tell yourself, “I can do it.”

Daniel Pink, author of “To Sell is Human” and INBOUND 2015 speaker, challenges us to flip these statements into a question – “Can I do it?” Asking yourself the question “Can I do it?” opens your mind up to problem solving and, and by having that internal dialogue with yourself, a boost in confidence. In asking this question, you prove to yourself that you can (and will) do the very thing you were trying to convince yourself to do all along.

Understanding and implementing these key takeaways that we gathered from INBOUND 2015 will open crowdfunders up to to new insights, deeper connections, and holistic learning experiences that will define who they are.

So, if we may be so bold to ask: Can you do it?

Interested in learning more? Let's talk