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So You Need $50,000 to Start Your Business…

Jackson, Deborahsmby Deborah Jackson, CEO and founder of Plum Alley, a crowdfunding platform and resource for women

If you’ve gotten a Kickstarter email from a friend or colleague—and many of us have— you know something about crowdfunding. Yet this social mode of raising money for a business or project is often misunderstood.

Compared to seeking grants or funding through angel investors, banks or other institutionalized methods, crowdfunding—which raises money through an open call on the Internet—has fewer barriers to entry and will often take a shorter period of time to close funding.

Plum Alley is a rewards-based crowdfunding platform that was created specifically to increase women’s access to funding, for example.

For a successful crowdfunding campaign, all you need is a defined project scope that is well-articulated in text and in your video; desirable rewards for contributors; a smart marketing plan to reach your friends, family, and fans; and the time to attend to your project on a daily basis.

So while the goal is a financial one, your primary aim here is clear communication: It’s the single most important thing to master when executing a crowdfunding campaign. It is easy to describe your project and what you will do with the money, but it’s more important to communicate the big WHY. A project should be appealing or emotional so individuals are moved to fund your project.

Videos are a crucial way to convey a message with personality and authenticity. Whether you talk into a webcam or hire a professional, keep your message short and sweet and end your video with a direct request to please support, fund, and share.

This video on Plum Alley is a good example of how to clearly craft a video that relays a message to successfully reach your funding goal.

Marketing should begin early, well before your project goes live. Beyond your immediate friends and family, reach out to the groups you are affiliated with (educational, recreational, religious, professional). Establish relationships, a social media presence and a website in advance, so you are able to use those tools when you are ready to seek funding.

For larger campaigns, compile a list of bloggers, media outlets (newspapers, magazines, radio shows), organizations, and individual influencers that would have an interest in your project. Pitch your project to this list before and during your crowdfunding campaign, and ask for support and coverage.

When Plum Alley first launched, we held a live event for our project creators to pitch their projects to their networks and the larger audience. The event was covered by the Wall Street Journal, among other media outlets, which enabled the projects to reach many more people. If possible, find different angles that resonate with each target audience and consider hiring a PR or communications expert if you are raising a larger sum.

A successful crowdfunding campaign can be measured in the dollars raised—but also in the power of the message conveyed.

Deborah Jackson is the CEO and founder of Plum Alley, a leading crowdfunding platform for women which supports projects that will change the lives of women and girls around the world.