The Power of Motivation & How it can Lead to 3 Successful Crowdfunding Campaigns

PAW (1)“Curiosity before Judgment.” It’s the philosophy that Play Around the World (PAW) imbues throughout its members, its outreach, and its service to the children of the world. It’s also the belief that led to raising $59,102 and inspiring 571 separate donations over three crowdfunding campaigns.

As a crowdfunder, one of your primary objectives is to motivate yourself, your team, and your prospective donors into supporting a common initiative. A practice PAW is well-versed in.

We had the pleasure of interviewing four member of PAW’s all-star crowdfunding team, including Mary Ann Rintoul, Jane Erdmann, Anthony Bourgue, and Heather Crowe.

Our initial intent was to be the megaphone through which they could project their advice to future crowdfunders, however, as I began to dish out their individual slices of insight I realized there was a constant thread that tied them all together. Their insight and advice demonstrated that their campaigns, with pure sincerity and unyielding effort, were fueled by high-octane motivation.


What is motivation?

Brian Johnson, a successful entrepreneur and modern day philosopher, describes in one of his inspirational Philosopher Notes, that “the word motivation comes from the root motive which means ‘a reason for action.’ Motive comes from the Latin word motives which means ‘to move.’ So, basically, motivation is why we move.” This is why, and how, PAW moves.

I always felt motivation was similar to love. That it was too abstract – too subjective – to ever be defined with the degree of clarity necessary for me to understand how to ignite it on demand in either myself or others. Similar to love, there does not appear to be an exact recipe for motivation, but there is a common understanding of where to look for the ingredients.

Charles Duhigg offers two foundational pillars of motivation in his book Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, which include

(i) Control (i.e., believing you have authority over your success), and

(ii) Meaningful (i.e., reminding yourself why you are doing what you are doing)

The insights that PAW offered us demonstrate how meaningful they felt their program was, and how they communicated that to their community and their prospective donors.


Make it personal. Communicate your passion.

Jane strongly suggests that you “make it personal…people want to know why you want to go on this experience, people want to know what their money is going to, people want to know how their money is going to be used… mak[ing] that connection with somebody about why is really important.”

Mary Ann mirrored Janes comments, additionally noting that you should focus on communicating and relationships.

Clearly communicating the impact of the dollars you are attempting to raise is critical to your campaign’s success, and it is only becoming more of a determining factor as this new generation of donors becomes your target market.

“Nearly 60 percent of Generation Y and half of Generation X agree that the ability to directly see the impact of their donation would have a significant bearing on their decision to give.” (The Next Generation of American Giving)

Additionally, there is hard evidence that advocating with a personal connection to your cause increases the likelihood of a donor engaging with your campaign.

So why limit the impact of every donation to the project you are raising the money for, when you can proactively communicate the impact the donation will have on you! Which leads to the next piece of insight offered by the PAW team…


“When crowdfunding, you have to internally, strongly believe in the cause” – Mary Ann

B-E-L-I-E-V-E, find out what it means….to you. Do you believe in the importance of your cause? This may sound like a silly question, but it is one worth revisiting and dissecting, because understanding the intricacies of your belief, the reasons you care, is the only way you are going to be able to communicate it to others, which is what crowdfunding is all about!

In case you are skeptical about how something as abstract as belief can play a significant role in achieving something tangible, take into consideration what leadership expert Simon Sinek shares in his electrifying TED talk, How great leaders inspire action. He keenly concludes that people care, above all else, about why you do what you do. People care about what you believe in!

The effect belief has is further illuminated in The Power of Habit. Charles Duhigg explains that one cannot extinguish a habit, but one can change a habit, and the intangible that makes it possible is BELIEF. “[B]elief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.”

Belief can turn ideas and aspirations into actionable results. So believe in the value of what you’re raising money for, believe that it’s worth the discomfort of the “ask”, believe that donors will be proud of every dollar they donate because of the impact it will have, and invite your team to do the same.


Time your launch when motivation is at its peak.

While discussing their campaign’s success, Mary Ann described how they assembled their team as “a competitive process.” She said “[students] have to apply [to PAW], there is an interview…[t]hat lends itself to successful campaigns. It’s not necessarily what we are doing, it’s the way it’s all set up.”

The process for joining PAW’s program includes students applying, interviewing, and finding out whether they are accepted in November. They may meet once in December, and then begin meeting regularly in January. PAW launches their campaign in January when, as Heather puts it,  “[t]hey are excited to share the opportunity, and that they’ve been selected, with family and friends. That energy at the beginning is really helpful…”

A that moment, those students are the most interested, committed, and engaged a group of fundraisers can be.

So ask yourselves, how are you going to spark your team’s motivation and time your launch while your team is voracious for success?

Motivation is the fuel that powers the success of your crowdfunding campaign.  No matter how hard you push on the pedal, you are not going to get very far without it.

So learn from PAW. Understand your passion and invite others to be a part of it.

You can use motivation techniques like instilling fear and putting pressure on your team members, but those are your fossil fuels. You want that alternative action, the renewables, the natural sources of motivation. The ones that have short-term AND long-term benefits cause, as Mary Ann notes, it’s important to value relationship-building for fundraising, for your program, and for life.


Interested in learning more? Let's talk