In July we really started to get the ball rolling with activating our crowdfunder crowd and put the feelers out to would-be advocates at one of our favourite places, the truly crafty craft beer experts at Station Hop in Levenshulme.
When we took on the challenge of crowdfunding, we thought we knew what the extent of work to get us to reach our target would be, given the high figure (£50,000) and the short space of time (35 days). It has been every bit as hard graft as we thought it would be by the way (but also really fun, like a big adrenaline fuelled gambling session egged on by the giddy community!)
What we hadn't prepared for was the emotional rollercoaster the crowdfunding experience would be for us and just how much support we would continue to receive throughout this process, not just from pals, from people all over, wishing us well and lending a hand where they could. Many people have told us they have experienced the crowdfunding anxiety on our behalf as well, constantly checking the total and refreshing their computer screens.
It's been overwhelming and really insightful into the shared desires of a community of advocates much, much wider than we first realised! We did however have the foresight to plan in a little bit of support in the lead up to the crowdfunder, which has definitely been instrumental in our crowdfunding success!
We planned in an event which would discuss in detail our plans for the building and our plans to crowdfund and reasons for doing so. We invited a group of people from different networks of each of the three Directors who had shown an interest in the project. These people weren't our very closest friends or family, but friends and acquaintances who had heard about the project and shown a real appetite for helping. We sent invites out via Eventbrite at the start of July, we planned to ply them with a mega buffet and lots of compliments to get people there :
"We're Crowdfunding And We Will Need Your Help!
We've identified you as a VIP.
You're a special someone who has expressed a passion about the venture and who wants it to be a success for the sake of the building, for the good of cycling, for the benefit of the community, for your own ruddy pleasure!
It's totes TOP SECRET but we will be launching a crowdfunding campaign in August this year. We want our best advocates to come along to this planning and information evening at our buddies Station Hop down the road.
We hope you can make it."
We'll tell you all about the plans, where we're up to and what we're going to do going forward.
Most significantly we want to find out how you can help us make our crowdfunding campaign a roaring success and what you'd be happy to do to support us during our crucial crowdfunding phase.
The evening should last no more than two hours, be super informative and we'll provide refreshments courtesy of the Station Hop bar alongside some quality nibbles in return for your kind efforts.
You are the gatekeepers, the early adopters, the social influencers, the cool kids! We need your brains, skills, sass, gossiping prowess, internet mastery, extended networks, talent and your passion to help make the next phase of Station South's transformation happen.
If you can let us know by RSVP we'd be really thankful.
Pauline, Abigail and Mark
Station South CIC
We gave our best 'sales pitch' at a 20 minute presentation and invited people to have a bit of buffet and a drink from the lovely guys at Station Hop and help us think about how we could spread the message far and wide and most importantly, how they could help us to do that too. We were of course, blown away by people's ideas and offers to roll up their sleeves and help us reach more people.
We were seeking ways to connect with some of the networks we identified above and find out what our advocates needed to enable them to shout about our crowdfunder. Our advocates were happy to tell us what we needed to do! They even helped us to set our target at £50,000 and told us it should be an ALL OR NOTHING campaign, rather than a take what you raise...absolute daredevils!
We were encouraged to provide our advocates with a set of tools both online and physically and emphasised the need for a strong communications plan, with lots of shareable content for online and plenty of eye catching rewards within our pledge offers to enable them to share, share, share repeatedly.
Advocates asked that we produce physical materials for sharing at a more local level, like posters and flyers. Suggestions were made about multilingual posters too, to help reach more people in the area. We obliged of course!
Prior to our campaign launch in late August, we asked all of our advocates to check over our crowdfunder page and give us some critique about the rewards, our story and our video to make sure we were setting the right tone and it was readable. We took all of their feedback on board and made some last minute amendments (spell check!) before we went live.
Letting a strong group of supporters into the planning and help open our minds to ideas we may not have considered from the start really helped to give us moral support and help fly the flag for the Station South project online and face to face with people.
It really proved a worthwhile endeavour and we feel like we had an extended team of willing helpers throughout the process because of this event and their subsequent determination to spread the word, and that in turn just snowballed to their networks.
Thank you to all of the people who came along on that soggy Monday night to Station Hop and to helping encourage their circles to be our newest advocates! We hope our pledgers are also in our extended network with over 1000 pledges from them along with the straight up donations the project has received to date. Still a bit of time to go too, see our total below
To all the people who have helped us reach the huge target that we nervously thrust upon our crowd by providing us with wisdom, insight and drive - you helped us excel and became part of the story too!
Many Thanks indeed.