How to Automate a Crowdfunding Project

Automating crowdfunding success improves efforts to raise finance from a large number of people who each donate, lend or invest relatively small amounts.
Main image for a Crowdsourcing Week blog on automating crowdfunding projects

Written by Clive Reffell

May 30, 2024

Before looking into ways that creating a successful crowdfunding project can be automated, it is probably best to identify what the key elements of a crowdfunding project are. Traditionally, financing a business, project or venture involved asking a few people for large sums of money. Crowdfunding is a way of raising finance when a large number of people are each asked to donate, lend or invest a relatively small amount of money. Typically, fundraisers create a project on a crowdfunding platform website and then use social media to generate interest and drive traffic to it. Their ‘pitch’ on the crowdfunding platform has to be persuasive enough to convince people to back them. Let’s take a look at how and where automating crowdfunding can lend a hand.

How tough is crowdfunding?

Different types of crowdfunding come with different sets of challenges. Kickstarter, for example, is primarily a donations-for-rewards platform, with a self-proclaimed mission to turn creative ideas into reality. It’s where creators share new visions for creative work or innovative products with communities that will come together to fund them. It’s down to each project to create and post its pitch. As long as it meets Kickstarter’s terms and conditions, nobody screens or vets the quality of the pitch.

Kickstarter logo in a blog on automating crowdfundingKickstarter provides comprehensive statistics that are updated at least once a day on the performance of the projects it has hosted. Although it has raised a phenomenal $7.38 billion for successful projects, just 41.47% of the total have been successful and reached a pre-set target level of funding. Under Kickstarter’s “All or Nothing” process, the remaining 58.53% of projects that fell short of their target received nothing for their time, effort, and the costs they incurred. Getting the content of a successful crowdfunding pitch right is therefore vitally important, nothing can be taken for granted.

Seedrs logo in a blog on automating crowdfundingEquity crowdfunding platforms take pride in quoting a high level of successful projects. This is to impress retail investors, encourage them to invest in more projects shown on the platform, and to join their investor networks. One of the leading UK equity platforms, Seedrs, confirmed in its 2024 Report that 88% of the projects it hosted in 2023 were successfully funded. The rival UK platform Crowdcube says that the projects it hosted in 2023 had a very similar 90% success rate. This does not mean equity crowdfunding is easier than reward-based crowdfunding. Crowdcube also told me they reject over 90% of the project submissions they receive each week. It’s usually because they do not believe the businesses are suitable for equity crowdfunding, or they have been unable to find appropriate lead investors to commit to the raise.

A key factor for any fundraiser using the equity route is to first impress the platform that the project wants to be hosted on. The selection process will include a review of each project’s market opportunity and scalability, business plan, company valuation and funding target, lead backers who should be providing at least 30% of the target raise, social media networks and email database of followers/customers/other stakeholders, a marketing plan of how it will communicate with them and also appeal to other retail investors, the content of the video pitch, and track record of its directors. Many projects are turned down at this stage as being insufficiently prepared. Equity crowdfunding platforms only receive fees when projects are successful, so they don’t want to waste time with ones more likely to fail.

When it does happen, successful crowdfunding can change people’s lives, whether through funding an arts project, generating massive numbers of orders for an innovative product, or financing a startup that’s going to disrupt its market with a money-making alternative business model. In some cases, successful crowdfunding can almost literally make entrepreneurs’ dreams come true. In many instances of success, backers recognise and respond positively to the passion and commitment of project leaders. These personal qualities should remain undiluted at the core of a crowdfunding project.

While completely automating a crowdfunding campaign therefore isn’t ideal, you can definitely streamline certain aspects to free up your time for more strategic tasks. Here’s how to automate some core elements. Many of the tools in this blog for automating crowdfunding are taken from the list of 50+ best free and paid AI marketing tools compiled by BOLD Awards

Pre-launch crowd building

Build anticipation for your campaign before it launches. Utilise social media, email marketing, and influencer outreach to spread the word and generate early interest. Numerous tools exist, including services like Hootsuite or Buffer that let you schedule multiple social media posts in advance, thus automating crowdfunding – to a degree. Craft engaging content about your project and schedule posts before as well as during the crowdfunding campaign when it is live on a platform.

Fliki is an AI image tool that is great for creating videos ready for social media.

HelloWoofy is a cloud-based social media management platform for small businesses, and it enables users to automate their social media marketing. 

Use email marketing platforms to schedule automated email sequences. These can introduce your project to potential backers, highlight milestones, and generate excitement as launch day approaches. Smartwriter.ai assists in automating your email outreach.

Automating crowdfunding includes creating a landing page for people to register interest and adds them to your email database. Remember to keep in touch with them as the campaign progresses, even during the period before it goes live on a crowdfunding platform. Jasper is an advanced AI marketing tool intended to create high-quality ad copy, emails, landing pages, articles, or social media posts. Writesonic offers more than 80 templates ranging from long-form blog posts to landing page optimizations. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help manage interactions with your crowd of potential supporters at all stages of a successful crowdfunding process. You can automate thank you emails for contributions and schedule automated responses to frequently asked questions. Remember that while automation saves time, don’t neglect personalization. Respond to individual backer comments and messages to build relationships.

Automating crowdfunding visual content

Encourage potential backers to share their own photos and videos related to your project. Consider featuring user-generated content on your website and social media to add authenticity and build excitement.

If you are unable to arrange your own photography, online platforms offer stock photo and video libraries with royalty-free content. Use these as a starting point, customising them with text, logos, and overlays to reflect your brand.

Free or low-cost editing software like Canva or iMovie can help you create polished visuals without needing advanced editing skills.

The Cheeky Panda bamboo tissue company used animation in its first round of crowdfunding

The Cheeky Panda bamboo tissue company used animation in its first round of reward crowdfunding, and in subsequent rounds of equity crowdfunding

Tools like Powtoon and Animaker allow you to create basic animations to explain your project concept. These can be a budget-friendly alternative to full-fledged video productions. Animated video featured in the reward-based crowdfunding first used by The Cheeky Panda in 2016. The company makes tissues and related products from sustainable bamboo. This UK startup went on to use several rounds of equity crowdfunding and is currently valued at an estimated £85 million.

Midjourney consistently produces content in which people and real-world objects look more lifelike and natural than they do with other AI image generator tools, at least without lots of prompting, and the latest version can even get hands kind of right. It’s telling that it was the first AI image generator to win an art competition.

Nightcafe is an ideal AI image generator tool for working from text to create authentic and creative images with simple words.

Whichever tools you use, schedule dedicated time for content creation. Capture multiple photos or create several video segments at one time to maximize your time and resources. Plan your visuals beforehand. Storyboards for videos and shot lists for photo sessions will keep you focused and efficient during creation.

Writing a business plan and a pitch

Many templates exist for writing a business plan, and generative AI models such as ChatGPT and Google Gemini have ushered in a new era of written content creation. However, they learn from scanning what has been previously written on topics. They are very useful to create an initial thread of baseline content, but can be full of errors when asked to cover recent developments in industry or business.

If you’re crowdfunding to support an innovative product or business, how much other content will exist for generative AI to adequately explain and make people enthusiastic about it? Could it convey the full extent of your commitment and passion? Craft a clear and concise narrative that captures the essence of your project and resonates with your target audience: why is it important; what problem are you solving, or what opportunity are you creating; who else will benefit from your success?

Marketing and campaign management

When your crowdfunding is live, obviously maintain your social media and email marketing activity. Some crowdfunding platforms offer their own tools to automatically send campaign updates to backers when you reach funding milestones or unlock new stretch goals.

Most crowdfunding platforms also offer analytics dashboards. Use these to track campaign performance and automate reports to monitor key metrics. You will have a target to reach, whether you are offering a product or equity in a business, so keep refining your marketing activity to do more of what appears to be working best.

Outreach is a versatile sales execution platform that helps marketers transform sales data into actionable insights. This seamless AI marketing tool helps you automate your workflows while testing engagement activities and key messaging across channels including SMS, email, and social media.

Ocoya is a content marketing platform that automates content creation, scheduling and analytics across multiple social networks. It’s like having ChatGPT, Canva and Hootsuite at your fingertips. 

Key takeaways

Automating aspects of crowdfunding, where possible, frees you up to focus on creative content creation, engaging with potential backers, and building momentum. However, don’t forget that a successful crowdfunding campaign relies on a human touch. Automation is a tool to enhance your efforts, not replace them. People connect with genuine stories. Use visual and written content that showcases the heart and soul of your project. 

About Author

About Author

Clive Reffell

Clive has worked with Crowdsourcing Week on sourcing and creating content since May 2016. With knowledge and experience gained in a 30+ year marketing career based in London, UK, he operates as an independent crowdfunding advisor helping SMEs and startups to run successful crowdfunding projects, and with wider social media and content marketing issues.

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