Strategy Guide

Tips for Getting Your Campaign 100% Funded

To successfully fundraise for any campaign, even the most inspiring, you're going to need to use proper strategy. The impression that the readers get, the images they see, the rewards they are offered, and the overall feeling of the campaign is going to influence their decision of whether to contribute or not. There are successful campaigns on WeTheTrees, and there are campaigns that do not meet their fundraising goals. In general, by following the tips in this strategy guide, you will have a much higher chance of landing in the Successfully Funded Campaigns category!

Lesson 1. Defining your Campaign

The first step in the process of being a successful fundraiser is figuring out exactly what your campaign is. For most of us, the projects that we are interested in fundraising could almost be infinite in scope, so usually the challenge when defining the campaign to post on WeTheTrees is where to set the boundaries of the campaign.

To meet our guidelines, your campaign must be for a finite project, one that can clearly be defined and achieved. Make sure you are not fundraising for something very vague like “returning ecological health to the area,” “observing the site,” or “getting a business going.” The campaign must be for a clear finite achievable project (which could easily be some part of a larger entity).

Setting clear goals is the first step in the Permaculture design process, so this step can actually help you as the campaign creator to get more focused on what you are trying to achieve. It also helps to make it very clear to the contributors what exactly the campaign is, whether it is achievable or not and whether they would like to contribute to it.

Be sure to have your goals clearly defined in your campaign description.

Lesson 2. Rewards and what to do about them

Every campaign is required to have a set of rewards that are given to the contributors depending on how much money they contribute. It is important to think clearly about your rewards as they can be an important part of getting contributions for your campaign.

Ideally the rewards would be created out of the actual project itself. For example, you post a campaign to purchase ten bee hives and swarms, and the rewards are in the form of honey, candles, and beeswax. But some campaigns don't necessarily result in products, so you have to get a little more creative. Some campaigns may use rewards as a primary way to induce contributions while others don't. You need to consider where your campaign lies on this continuum.

What to use as rewards?

There are a number of commonly seen categories of rewards. You can use any combination of these, or think of your own.

The Product as Reward:
As in the honey example above, there may actually be products produced from your project that could be given as rewards. This is awesome! Honey, dried mangoes, a solar cooker, a bicycle-powered blender, a ram pump, etc. Set the reward value at or slightly above the retail value of these items. Contributors are often happy to pay a bit more knowing they are contributing to an inspiring project.

Copies of the Product:
Sometimes the campaign produces something that could easily be duplicated and the duplicates can be given as rewards. DVD, a book, a pamphlet explaining how to build the solar cooker, a poster of the project, photographs, etc.

Highlighting the Contributor:
The reward could actually be acknowledging the contributor in some way. She is written into the book, acknowledged in the credits of the movie, etc.

Provide an Experience:
The reward could be the chance for the contributor to take part in what you are doing. A place in one of your courses. A stay at your permaculture farm, a chance to help with the cheese-making process, etc

Personal Thanks:
For low-level donations or for projects that don't feel they need the draw of fancy rewards, then something as simple as a photo of the process along with a personalized thank you note, or a cry to the night sky of THANK YOU could suffice. Be careful not to alienate yourself from potential contributors by having lousy rewards!

Deciding how to price your rewards

It is important to price your rewards correctly. You want to draw enough support for your campaign, without giving away so much stuff that you lose money! (This has definitely happened.) At WeTheTrees, we value those campaigns that are able to mix the giving of a quality reward with the acceptance of a solid contribution. We find that the most common contributions are between $10 - $25 and that campaigns that give good rewards to these contribution levels tend to succeed more often than those that give unimpressive rewards. But don't forget about trying to draw large contributors as well, because just a few of them can make your campaign successful.

There are two very general categories of campaigns that run on WeTheTrees.

The "good cause" fundraiser:
This kind of campaign is one where the primary motivation of the contributor is to give to a good cause. They are not so concerned about rewards, but just want to give because the cause is worthwhile. With this kind of campaign, the rewards are used more as a thank you than as a draw. But at the same time a nice reward could mean the difference between someone giving $50 or $100. It is recommended that rewards are priced far from their true value, as the contributors aren't giving for the reward.

The "production" fundraiser:
This kind of campaign usually sees people contributing toward a project that in the end will produce something, honey, and album, a DVD, beef, or a book, etc. With this kind of campaign, the campaign creator is appealing to friends, family, and networks to help fund a venture that he or she would like to do. The contributor is often much more motivated by rewards in cases like this. Because the contributors are doing you a favor by helping to fund your project up front, it is often best to give back to them by pricing your product at or below the retail price. This isn't about just being nice. It is about getting lots of contributors. Why would a person contribute $50 to get your album as a reward when they know that when it comes out they can buy it for $20? By giving it away at a contribution level of $15, you are much more likely to get an avalanche of support. Think of it as basically pre-selling your product, which is a great model.

If the item you are wanting to use as a reward is something unique, limited-edition, or of special value, then you can be pretty flexible in how you price it, but if you are using something that is fairly commonly available, it makes sense to set it at or near the going price. As for experiences, like farm visits, or workshops, find a price range that seems reasonable to you. What would you be willing to give to know you have contributed to a great project and you get this reward?

Be careful not to under-price your rewards. Remember that you need to cover all costs of production and delivery for these items, so don't set yourself up with a situation where you have to spend more money than you raised to deliver the rewards. And be careful of the chance of having a lot of contributors. You may say that you are willing to hand-paint a t-shirt for each person who contributes $10. Is that going to work when 1000 people contribute at that level? You might be painting t-shirts for a year!

Be sure to be true to your own ethics and the principles throughout your campaign. We don't want to give up what we are after in the search for dollars. That's part of what we are trying to get away from!

Lesson 3. Setting your Fundraising Goal

When you run a campaign at WeTheTrees, you either reach your goal, and get the money, or you do not and you receive nothing.

It is very important to know how much money it takes to actually do the project you would like to do, and how much do you need to raise to make it a reality. You could be in legal trouble if you raise the money and then do not follow through with what you said you would do. So make sure you set your goal at high enough to make it happen. At the same time, because you have to meet your goal to receive any of the contributions, you need to set your goal low enough so that this is achievable.

So what is the solution? There is no one answer for all campaigns. Each campaign has its own limitations and advantages, and you must judge these to correctly set your fundraising goal.

YOU CAN RAISE MORE THAN YOUR GOAL. There is no limit to how much you can raise in the 60 day period, so get out the word!

How much money do you need? Make sure to research the expenses it is going to take to make this project a reality and don't forget to include the cost of producing and delivering all the rewards. Do you only need to raise some portion of the total cost or the full amount? Are their travel costs associated that you would like to include (and that you think you can successfully fundraise for)? Are there any hidden costs? Make sure you have done the math accurately enough to know that you can complete the project if your campaign is fully funded. If not, you will be asked to refund everyone's money in full.

Who are your potential contributors? Some may feel confident that they will easily be able to raise the funds when their contacts know about the campaign. If you feel like you are in this category, then it may be appropriate to expand the project, or add travel expenses, etc. If you are more of the suspicion that it will be difficult to garner contributions, then you may consider setting your goal at a bit less, or making the rewards a bit more attractive.

Remember, just because you have set your goal at $1500, doesn't mean you couldn't raise more than that. Some projects raise many times their stated goal (usually because of attractive rewards). But also on the flip side is the fact that many contributors are motivated by helping you to achieve your goal, so if it is already reached they may be less likely to contribute.

There is no one right way.

It is up to you to find contributors. Through your social networks, your e-mail contacts, and any other means that you can think of, you need to find contributors for your campaigns. There may be the occasional person surfing WeTheTrees that gives a contribution to your campaign but don't count on these, look at them as bonuses. We give you tools that help connect you to your favorite social networks, but the real work is yours. If your campaign succeeds, it's because you promoted it well, if not, well... See more about promoting your project below.

Setting your campaign fundraising goal. Once you have established the amount of money you need to make the project happen, and analyzed and assessed your possible contributor base, you are ready to set your campaign fundraising goal. Remember, at WeTheTrees it is all or nothing, so this decision is very important. You can always raise more money than your goal, but if you do not raise enough, the effort was for naught.

Make sure that your fundraising goal ensures that you can complete what the campaign promised, or you will be forced to refund the contributions, and you will incur fees for this. If you fail to do what you promised and do not refund the money to your contributors, you may face legal action.

Contributing to your own campaign – Often people use a strategy of setting their goals a bit high, with the hopes that this will encourage others to give more. The strategy then is to give the remainder of the balance to yourself on the final day of the campaign so that you meet the goal within the timeframe allotted. This is a fine strategy, except that you cannot give money to your own campaign. By law, you cannot contribute money to your own campaign because it is considered a cash advance. To be honest, this strategy can still work, as long as you don't contribute the money yourself. Have your sister or your boyfriend or your mom do it for you, and you will get away with it. Just don't try to do it with a credit card that has your name on it, as the payment will be rejected.

Lesson 4. Create a Campaign Video

One of the most important details that you can add to your campaign to help meet your fundraising goals is to add a video. It doesn't need to be fancy or highly produced (though you could do that), but simply something that shows people who you are, and why your campaign is worth contributing to.

You could spend a number of days on shooting and editing, or just set you camera up and get it in one shot. Either way, there are a few key components that are really important to include in every video.

Important components to every video:

Introduce yourself
Describe your campaign, and what it means to you. Why it is important.
Ask for people's support in helping you make this project a reality.
Tell them what they get (rewards) for their contribution.
Thank them for their support.

If can also be a great strategy to tell people about the all or nothing system that WeTheTrees uses. This may encourage people to help you move toward your goal, especially as you get close to reaching your goal.

Avoid copyrighted material

Make sure not to use music, images, or video clips that do not belong to you. It can easily turn into a lengthy and expensive lawsuit if you use this material. Some great techniques for avoiding this is to create your own music and images or to use music that is registered under a Creative Commons license from places like SoundCloud.

Making your video

There are lots of great open source video editing software out there that you can download for free, as well as lots of on-line resources for learning to create simple videos. From our experience, it is well worth your time to create a video for your project.

Do you need help to make your video?

WeTheTrees can produce your campaign video for you!
(If you are interested, please contact us.)

WeTheTrees has teamed up with some great filmmakers to help make your campaign video for you. Depending on your budget and the degree of quality to which you would like your campaign video, we are offering three different levels of video production. Basic ($45), Advanced ($95), and Professional ($295).

Basic Campaign Video - $45
The basic campaign video is a simple slideshow or collection of video images put to an audio file and soundtrack music. You need to provide about 20 images and video files, along with an audio file (can be an independent audio or included on one of the videos). The producer of the video will put together a simple video laying the images and video on top of the audio you provide, along with a musical background piece. We will build a title page and a thank you that begin and end the video.

Advanced Campaign Video - $95
The advanced campaign video is the same as above, except more time is spent to ensure that the campaign video more successfully expresses the tone that you are after. More time is put in, resulting in a higher quality result. You are allowed to give a single round of feedback to make small changes to the video to suit your preferences.

Professional Campaign Video - $295
The professional campaign video is created by professional filmmakers at Ahooha (makers of Freedom Ahead and Seeds of Permaculture), and will have a much higher quality production value including special effects and techniques which bring subtle beauty and quality to your film. You need to provide images and video files, along with an audio file (can be an independent audio or included on one of the videos). Depending on the quality of the imagery you provide, this video can be made in HD. You are allowed one round of feedback to make minor changes to adjust the video to suit your preferences.

How does this film-making service work?

First, click on one of the “buy now” links above for the film package that you would like to purchase (Basic, Advanced, or Professional). At that point, you will be directed to a page prompting you to upload your video materials to a Dropbox account. Once you have uploaded your files to this account, our film-makers will download the materials and start creating the film. When they have completed the work (often within three business days), they will upload your video to the WeTheTrees Vimeo account, where you will easily be able to view it, and use it in your campaign. If you purchased the advanced or professional level of video you can send feedback to the film-maker who will then make one round of changes according to your preferences. (Additional changes can be made at additional cost).

It's as easy as that!

Posting your video

Once you have your video edited to exactly how you want it, you need to upload it to Vimeo (sign up first if you do not already have an account), and then use the unique video URL to put your video onto your campaign page. It takes a few steps, but if you have a good connection, it shouldn't take too long.

Choose your video image

This image is important because it will also be the image that is displayed on your campaign badge. Make sure to choose an image that represents your campaign, as well as catches people's eye.

You can only change this image if you manage the Vimeo account that uploaded the video that you are using.

Some people call these poster frames or preview images. Vimeo calls them thumbnails. To change your thumbnail, log into your Vimeo account, go to the video's individual page, where you read the comments and watch the video. Click on the 'Settings' button that appears under the video. From there, scroll down to 'Thumbnails' and you can select one of the pre-generated thumbnails. If you'd like to upload a custom thumbnail, click on the '+' button and upload your own image. Click 'Save Changes' and sit back and admire your new thumbnail.

Make sure to do this before you submit your campaign, because the WeTheTrees system stores the first image in its database, and that cannot be changed after submission.

Tell the world what you are doing! Make a video!

Unable to make a video?

We require a video for all campaigns unless your physical location is somewhere that just does not have the technology available to be able to create or upload a video. If you have another legitimate reason for why you can't make a video, please let us know.

If you cannot post a video, then you need to cut and paste this Vimeo URL in the box that asks for your video:

This is a video that basically just explains that this campaign does not have a video.

Lesson 5. Your Campaign Page

When you are writing and building your campaign description on WeTheTrees, make sure to take your time. It makes a huge difference in quality if you work on it over a number of days or even weeks. The most successful campaigns spend over a week on the creation of their campaign page before launch.

Remember, once you launch you want to be focused on promotion. You only have a limited amount of time to accept contributions (your campaign deadline). The maximum length of your campaign deadline is 60 days.

Naming Your Campaign

A catchy, simple and memorable title is really important. Make sure to use a unique name for your campaign rather than giving it a general title. It is better to say “Blue Wind Farms Moves Toward Solar Power,” rather than titling the project “Raising Money for a Solar Array.” Avoid using words like “raising money,” “fund” “help” or “support” as it gives an image of charity rather that the positive energy of an exciting campaign that someone wants to contribute to.

Writing your Headline

This is the short sentence that will appear on your campaign badge along with your title graphic and the fundraising goal. Like the title graphic, this is a very important piece of how people perceive your campaign, and may make or break whether a person chooses to open your campaign page and ultimately whether they decide to contribute or not.

Make sure that you quickly communicate exactly what your campaign is about and what it hopes to achieve. Keep it quick, make it sound positive and energizing, and give it personality.

Choosing your Campaign Image

This image is important because it will also be the image that is displayed on your campaign badge. Make sure to choose an image that represents your campaign, as well as catches people's eye.

You can only change this image if you manage the Vimeo account that uploaded the video that you are using.

Some people call these poster frames or preview images. Vimeo calls them thumbnails. To change your thumbnail, log into your Vimeo account, go to the video's individual page, where you read the comments and watch the video. Click on the 'Settings' button that appears under the video. From there, scroll down to 'Thumbnails' and you can select one of the pre-generated thumbnails. If you'd like to upload a custom thumbnail, click on the '+' button and upload your own image. Click 'Save Changes' and sit back and admire your new thumbnail.

Make sure to do this before you submit your campaign, because the WeTheTrees system stores the first image in its database, and that cannot be changed after submission.

Making your Campaign Description look the best it can.

Making your campaign description look the best it can is very important. At WeTheTrees, we use a system called Markdown which is very easy to use with a few simple tips. You can use the following tricks to make your description look great.

Heading 1
=======

Heading 2
--------------

### Heading 3

* list item 1
* list item 2

1. Ordered list item 1

2. Ordered list item 2

*italic*

__bold__

[link text](http://www.wherethelinkgoes.com)

![image title needed](http://www.pathtoimage.com)

Adding images to your campaign description helps to add depth and an aesthetic quality to the page. We highly recommend you insert a number of images into your description giving a bit of color to what you are writing.

To insert photos using the instructions above, you need to have an online location of the photo, i.e. a URL. If you do not already have a URL for your image, then go to tinypic.com, easily upload your image and retrieve your URL.
Upload and image, then copy and paste the "Direct link for layouts." Return to the WeTheTrees page, and paste this URL into this code:

![image title needed](http://www.pathtoimage.com)

Writing your Bio

In addition to the campaign description and video, potential contributors may be interested in learning more about you and what you have been up to previously. The bio is an opportunity to expand more on who you are, your past experiences, and the passion for your work. Why is it that you do what you do? It doesn't need to be a whole life story. Keep it fairly short, and relative to the campaigns that you submit.

Lesson 6. Promoting your Campaign

There is no limit to the amount of money that can be contributed, but campaign promotion is probably the single biggest factor to getting lots of contributions. Simply, the more people know about your campaign, the more possible contributors you have. You will want to get the word out to all the appropriate networks of friends, colleagues, and relatives, as well as ask them to share it with their friends. E-mail your PDC group and let them know what you are up to, and ask them to pass it on!

There are a number of techniques for getting the word out, it's often best to combine many of them. Here are a few:

Send a Personal Message

The single most effective way of getting people to respond to your campaign promotion is to send a personal message to them sharing your campaign, and asking them to check it out. Start with an e-mail to your friends, family, and your permaculture network, allowing them to be the first to contribute and possibly give feedback on your campaign page. Then send it out to anyone you think might be open to checking it out.

Use Social Networking

Post your campaign to Facebook. Send it out on the twitter airwaves to your followers, and share it through a blog post or two. WeTheTrees makes it easy to share or embed your campaign badge. Invite others to “like” it or share it with their networks.

It is generally most effective to post to social networks three times throughout a fundraising campaign:

At the launch –
introducing the campaign to your friends and contacts.

At the midway point -
to give and update and to thank all those people who have contributed thus far.

A week before the project ends –
to make your plea to the community to help meet your fundraising target and make this campaign a success.

The Real World

Consider giving a talk about your project, sharing some of your inspiration, and introducing your campaign to raise funds all in the same evening. This can be a great way to achieve multiple functions. Sharing with your community something that really moves you, educating them about the benefits of whatever your project is, and rallying support for contributions.

Being in person, and sharing from your heart is always an important and inspiring part of turning your vision into reality.

Bring it to the Media

Put out a press release to your local newspaper, TV station or school. Contact like-minded blog writers and seek their support in promoting this effort. Journalists and bloggers are always looking for stories and are eager to help a local or inspiring project to success. Log on to your favorite permaculture websites and forums and share with the community there. A great forum is the one at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. If you are not already a member at Permaculture Global set up an account and post an update about your campaign. It may even be carried on the front page.

Please don't spam or beg for money. And don't over-do it.

Please stick to the permaculture ethics as you promote your campaign. If you bombard your friends and family with too many e-mails, Facebook updates, and tweets, they are going to feel very turned off by your campaign. It not only reduces your chances of getting contributions but makes the entire WeTheTrees effort look bad. Don't post messages on other people's campaign pages, and don't hound people that you don't know. Stay true to your beliefs and promote your campaign in a way that is fun and productive!

Lesson 7. Campaign Updates

The campaign updates serve as the blog for your project. It is primarily used as a way of communicating with those folks who have already contributed to the campaign, but can also be used to give updates to the general WeTheTrees community of contributors. When you post a campaign update, an e-mail will automatically be sent to all your contributors and you will be given the option about whether you would like it to be visible to just contributors or open to the public.

What to use campaign updates for?

Use your campaign updates to keep your contributors updated as to what is happening with your project, to keep them excited and to encourage them to spread the word to their networks. People who have already contributed to your campaign are eager to know about even the small steps you are taking to see your vision actualized, and to hear how the campaign fundraiser is going. If it is getting close, they may be interested in trying to rally support for you. Share what is happening with some photos of events, or updates about the progression of the project.

After the fundraising campaign, share the progress

Once the campaign is over and you have successfully raised enough money to move forward with your project, don't forget about your contributors. They are interested and deserve to know how things are going. Use the WeTheTrees campaign updates as a way of staying connected to them. Photos, videos or blog posts about your progress are always greatly appreciated.

The Success!

When you have completed your project and manifest your dream in reality, make sure you let your contributors know. Invite them to opening night, or a christening of the project, or simply send them a photo of you in a champion pose atop your creation. And after the project is all done, and the rewards have all be sent, consider still sending updates occasionally to let people know how it all worked out.

Lesson 8. Delivering the Rewards

Once your campaign is fully funded and you are ready to go with your project, you need to remember to make sure you have all your logistics worked out for delivering rewards to your contributors. This can be a bit overwhelming, but staying organized and having a plan will help immensely.

Getting Contributors Information

Don't worry about collecting the contributors information until your campaign is fully funded and complete. There is a complete list of contributors contact details, amount contributed and chosen reward on your campaign page (only visible to you when you are signed in). Once your campaign is complete and successful, you can contact these people for specifics.

Make Sure to Plan Ahead

Doing your due diligence in terms of knowing how much time and cost it will take to make and deliver rewards is important. The last thing you want is to realize that fulfilling the rewards is going to eat up a much larger portion of your budget that you realized.

Start with understanding shipping costs, which is easy to overlook. You can start with some of the information provided online like USPS mailing guide, checklists, and bulk mail info. Explore other options that may work better for you. Beware of International mail rates!

Communicate with your Contributors

As you work on getting all the rewards up, send out frequent campaign updates. The contributors are usually very flexible about when they receive their rewards but do like to know that you are working on it. Send pictures of the process of creating the rewards, and stories about what went wrong. Keep it fun and honest, and your contributors will be happy to get your messages.