Getting your crowd behind your fund.
Updated: Apr 27
Last weekend saw the start of Frome Town's crowdfund appeal and after 10 days they are halfway towards their £20,000 target. Many would not have thought it possible at the start of the campaign - so let's explore how to tackle the tricky world of Crowdfunding. Will a Crowdfunder work?
The first decision is to look at the situation your club is in and determine whether it's going to be feasible. Often football clubs and organisations will look to Crowdfund at the times that they are most desperate for support, but this doesn’t always need to be the case. If the supporters are being rewarded for their donations, crowdfunders can be used at any stage to help a club achieve a goal potentially out of reach previously; for example, new cameras, a new 3g pitch, or updated floodlights. However at this time, with the world and football economy under extreme pressure, crowdfunding is fast becoming focused on saving clubs and organisations from going under.
What's the difference between Crowdfunding, Fundraising and Donations? Crowdfunding is essentially in place to help you achieve a goal and reward your supporters at the same time. Fundraising will typically be contributions with no return, and typically donations are working alongside other organisations such as NHS.
Crowdfunding for organisations and sports teams has been widely proven to raise more money for clubs than the vast majority of alternatives.
Which platform to use?
At the time of writing this article, the only option is to use www.crowdfunder.co.uk. They are offering 100% free fees and charges, unlike US based www.gofundme.com and www.justgiving.com. This allows you to keep every penny of the money you raise.
Where do the platforms make money? Every platform encourages 'tipping' to fund the use of the platform. That comes directly from the donator and not the clubs themselves.
Should you use Crowdfunding to sell your sponsorship portfolio?
In our opinion you shouldn't use your sponsorship portfolio on a crowdfunder, it may seem logical at first, but this is your self-owned real estate at the club and can be sold separately.
You'll find if you start to merge a crowdfunder with your portfolio, you will start to devalue those options and your crowdfunder becomes more about companies looking to innocently support but aiming to get a 'great deal' at the same time. Crowdfunding is about harnessing the power of your fans and supporters.
Also, when it comes to your accounting practices you need to be very clear on the amount of donations you receive, while combining this with sponsorships can be messy and unclear at times.
How do you set a target?
Ask for what you need. The premise of a good crowdfunding project is to be clear on the goal you have and what the money would be used for. Just raising money can be effective, but having a real goal and something tangible the supporters can see means you can often get the same fans making pledges on more than one occasion to help you reach the goal.
How to create a rewarding crowdfunder
Other than just asking for more towards your goal, crowdfunding has successfully worked for years due to the rewards the clubs give in return. Whether that’s signed shirts, exclusive items or experiences.
Many will use ‘early bird‘ pricing on items, but like selling sponsorships, remember you are looking to raise additional revenue, not necessarily get future revenue now. If you are crowdfunding to save your club using a ‘Pay It Forward‘ approach, it can help bring in future revenue now, but think carefully about what will happen down the road.
But most importantly, don’t try and kid people with rubbish rewards, for example , Donate £20 and receive a club pen. Yes, those plastic pens you’ve been selling unsuccessfully in the club shop for 50p for the last five years! Don’t be afraid to spend some of the Crowdfunding money on the rewards. Just plan this into your budgeting.
Don’t under and oversell - or make it too complicated
Let‘s be honest, anyone making it to your crowdfunding page is not looking to donate £1. As much as every penny counts, you don’t really want very small amounts. To combat this, don’t reward every donation, set a bar at £10, enough for people to feel like they are helping but also an amount that will make a difference. If you are going for a large target think about the average you want people donate.
If you are looking to gain momentum, potentially look at an exclusive reward for the first 100 or 200 supporters.
It’s easy to overcomplicate a Crowdfunder with lots of variations on rewards; ‘spend £10 to get XYZ’, ‘spend £20 and get XYZ+ABC‘. Keep your rewards simple, clear and unconfusing. You don’t want someone giving less because they didn’t want the club Mug for an extra £10.
Look to get feedback from you fans prior to launching on your premise and rewards. You wouldn’t launch a product without asking your audience for their feedback. Consider asking a select group for their help, this group can provide valuable insights and help you gauge the reaction. They will also often be the ones who are first to donate to the cause.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Crowdfunding isn’t for the shy, so don’t be. You have a short window to generate money for the Crowdfunder, so be upfront, honest, and keep people informed. If you just sit back and watch, your crowdfunding will fail (unless you‘ve set a very low target).
Utilise your clubs facilities to the max. If you have a media team, this is where they need to be focused and use their creativity to engage fans. However if you don’t, then use what is at your disposal; use simple video updates, get your fans help and ask for support.
Update your Crowd
Your fans want to know how it’s going and they want to be thanked. The crowdfunding platforms allow for emails to be sent thanking people, but do it where it matters, thank fans across your social media, whether that is individually or in groups.
Also, if someone makes a sizeable donation, a phone call from a club chairman to a fan will often gain an amazing reaction. Every thank you is also another advert for your Crowdfunder.
Expect to be addicted, and see ups and downs
Once your Crowdfunder begins, you will be hooked. You’ll check your page at very regular intervals, celebrate good days and feel down on days that don’t see you meet your daily target. Expect ups and downs, be ready to react to comments and suggestions. Remember, whilst crowdfunding there’s nothing worse than not being talked about.
Share your result
Whether you succeed or fail, share your result with the fans, as someone might come out of the woodwork to help if you didn’t quite make it. You can often leave crowdfunding pages open past the deadline to pick up extra pledges.
If you succeeded... celebrate with your supporters! It might have been your goal at the start, but everyones responsible for it’s fulfilment.
Looking for inspiration?
Crowdfunder UK have a specific page featuring examples of live and successful projects for football and sports teams.
If you want support or help exploring crowdfunding, assistance in promoting your fund, or help with managing communications during this time, get in touch.