Tips for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign
Nearly six years since our thrilling Kickstarter campaign launched in the Spring of 2013, we at Sword & Plough continue to be amazed at the generous outpouring of support furthering our mission and goals. Through our backers, our crowd-funding campaign secured over fifteen times our stated funding goal from over 1,500 individual supporters in just one month. Our continued growth and charitable impact would not have been possible without our initial donors’ belief in our mission and generous contributions. With gratitude, we reflect back on our beginnings and are pleased to offer a few tips on how to create a successful crowd-funding campaign.
- Engage the power of a story
In his acclaimed reflection, The Things They Carried, Vietnam veteran Tim O’Brien writes, “The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you…” Sword & Plough’s origin story, our mission of promoting civilian and military understanding, as well as veteran-supporting impact goals, combined to shape an authentic narrative that we are thankful has encouraged others to “dream along with us” in our endeavors.
Whether a supporter was touched by our environmental sustainability, charitable commitments, mission-driven focus, or the true tale of two sisters from a military family, Sword & Plough’s story undeniably resonated with many of our backers’ closest-held values. Jim Logrando, a Kickstarter-verified consultant and founder of crowd-funding strategy firm Craft Services, comments on Sword & Plough’s epic 2013 campaign, “They raised roughly 4 times what the average campaign does. To do that, the two things you need for success are a good story that makes people care and see that you are authentic, and a receptive audience to receive the resonating message.” Building a community of support as our audience was the most critical piece of Sword & Plough’s crowd-funding success.
- Gather your community
Sword & Plough’s community of supporters has been the backbone of our mission’s momentum from the start. Comprised of family, friends, colleagues, veteran advocates and eco-conscious fashion fans of our very first travel bags, our community has always been enthusiastically engaged with our charitable, environmental, and veteran employment impact goals. Ensuring that our Kickstarter had a strong basis for support for expanded outreach required clearly framing those goals, reaching out, and communicating the specifics of how we would achieve them prior to launch.
- Plan & Prepare
Creating a deeply considered blueprint for a socially conscious business, as well as having ready inventory, and a committed team in place, were essential steps towards preparing for our big day. Part of that groundwork involved seeking out opportunities to learn more about running a successful business and how to plan for contingencies. Preparing for a competition held by the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, followed by Emily’s participation in an intensive incubator program at Dell Social Innovation Lab were both opportunities that fostered a knowledge base in business development and expanded Sword & Plough’s supportive community.
Upon winning the Center for Social Entrepreneurship competition and participating in the Dell Lab, S&P was thrilled to receive coverage from Bloomberg in the Spring of 2013, which shared the S&P story to a wider audience. Once the Kickstarter was “live,” we were thrilled and gratified by how the S&P community came through for us, amplifying and championing our message far beyond typical crowd-funding expectations through the generosity of their support.
- Continue the Mission
Now that the hard work leading up to a successful launch has been completed, the perspective must be to consider the beginning of a new kind of business rather than simply the ending of a crowd-funding campaign. With that in mind, six years onward, Sword & Plough continues to strive to honor the trust of our earliest, as well as newest, supporters through expanding our veteran hiring and partnerships, growing our charitable impact, and rigorously committing to environmental sustainability through our B Corp certification. As ever, our community has been our center, whether it’s through listening to our loyal customers regarding what might fine-tune our tote bags, seeking out partnerships with veteran organizations, collaborating with other brands that share our values, or by expanding the reach of our message and story through our Brand Champion program, Sword & Plough’s community has always been the driving force of our mission.
About the author
Holly Taylor is a Sword & Plough Brand Champion and early childhood educator living outside of Philadelphia. Coming from a large military family and having a U.S. Marine for a father, Sword & Plough’s commitment to veteran advocacy, environmental sustainability, women in business leadership, and charitable impact continue to inspire her.