Startup fundraising 💰

As you try to develop a product or service, especially when venturing into agile methods where funding rounds happen after the initial investing phase, you are very likely to find yourself needing money.

This article will try to develop the various ways you can access funds as a creator. The final aim is of course to help you find means for your upcoming ideas.

What is fundraising?

Fundraising is the process of soliciting and gathering voluntary contributions as money or other resources by requesting donations. With that in mind, fundraisers standout because they ask for money not as an investment, but a donation. It comes to no benefit for the donator, at least no intended benefit.

A fundraising strategy is your plan for generating the revenue needed to make your mission possible, it might mean getting money, getting access to an open space or a creative space.

This plan should not be an abstract concept or thought locked away in one's head but rather an explicit set of instructions and processes to reach the goals of your staff, supporters, general public and maybe board members. You could think of it as your financial roadmap to success.

Fundraisers have various parts and consist of various methods that you can repeat each year to reach your target audience or even new users.

Why you should go fundraising

As mentioned above, a fundraiser is considered an event in which people donate resources to your cause. As a business owner, this means you don’t have to give up ownership of your company to acquire funds or other means. With this in mind, you deal with donors and not investors, you don’t really have anything special to offer and the approach is different.

Fundraising can get you some resources but it won’t get you large amounts of capital or the heavy resources you need to support your business. Even large nonprofits don’t really make that much money compared to the amount of time and effort they spend on it.

While fundraisers can’t really support your business entirely, they do offer a viable option to launch your service or product. It can serve as the needed resources to create a proof of concept, in time, this prototype can help you pitch your ideas to larger investors. This will make you more confident in your idea as you now know where you are going and what to expect.

How to raise funds

To start a successful fundraiser, you have to understand what makes donors spark into action. Your entire job is to get potential donors on board with your project so they give you resources.

To do so, here are some tips for mobilizing your fundraising strategies :

  • Incentivize your top fundraisers
  • Launch a recognition program
  • Get to know your donors

Incentivize your top fundraisers

Fundraising doesn’t have to start with a huge donor, it can start with your staff. A great development team will help you find opportunities and major donors. By compensating them, you’ll help them engage in the process of finding new donors.

Incentives don’t have to go the extra mile, even small ones make a big difference. Discuss incentive programs with your team and consider surveying your employees, find out what would motivate them.

Launch a recognition program

The best and most efficient way to engage your existing donors and turn them into recurring donors is by thanking them. Acknowledging them and underlying their efforts helps them understand that you have seen their donation and that it means a lot to you.

Most donors especially major ones, enjoy being publicly recognized for their philanthropic effort. If you correctly recognize their contributions, you could find yourself with large donations on your hands.

On average, organizations lose 81% of their initial donors, can you guess what’s responsible for this number ?  Adequately recognizing your participants will help lower that number by a lot.

Get to know your donors

Especially in today’s world, people have come to expect an individualized approach, your best strategy might just be to know your donors better. What they want is for you to show your cause in a way that is compelling to them.

You can find software online to help you track demographics, age, gender, education, and much more to help you personalize your thank you notes and make them much warmer.

It’s also important to understand who you’re up against, who is your audience, what motivates them, and what do they want from you in order for them to give you money.

  • They believe in your long term vision
  • Someone close to them cares about what you do
  • They’ve been personally impacted by your project
  • They want to be a part of your mission

As you try and get donations, you will soon realize that the more relevant you are, the more engaged your potential donor will be. It’s always a good idea to try and learn more about your potential donator before pitching him your idea, just so you know from which angle you should showcase your project.

Developing a product or service requires large amounts of resources. To give it an initial push, you should start looking for capital, fundraisers serve that purpose quite well as they don’t make you give up ownership of your project. The process does require you to get donators, this does take time, but if you take time to engage with them and thank their action. This initial donator could keep donating or turn into a future client.

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