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Top tips on running a successful crowdfunder from Bristol Food Producers

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This month, Bristol Green Capital Partnership CIC launched the Better Bristol match-funding campaign with Crowdfunder UK – investing £45,000 in local projects that will contribute to making Bristol a sustainable city with a high quality of life for all. You can be part of the campaign this June and be in with a chance of receiving match-funding by filling in our short online form by 25 April 2017. 

To offer some insight into crowdfunding, we invited Steph Wetherell from Bristol Food Producers to share her crowdfunding story, following success last year in raising £5,607 from 132 pledges over a four-week period,…

Why did you decide to use crowdfunding to raise funds?

“Our organisation was launched in November 2015, and we needed funds to help deliver several projects, including masterclasses, networking events and a film. We’d received some funding from the Lottery, but needed some core funds to help deliver the project. We decided that Crowdfunding would not only help us raise the money, but also enable us to tell more people about what we are doing. It also has a much quicker turn around than a lot of traditional funding sources, so we could start delivering the project just 2 1/2 months after we started planning the Crowdfunder.”

What do you think was key to your crowdfunding success?

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Masterclasses & training from Bristol Food Producers

“A big part of our success came down to social media and our strong networks. We shared the Crowdfunder widely and repeatedly with all the people and organisations we knew, and had an active social media campaign, especially across Twitter. We did a combination of open messages and targeted tweets, asking people to share and retweet the campaign. Keeping up a constant stream of activity and new content was the hardest work part of the campaign, but also ultimately what helped us hit our target.

The other key to success for us was having several large pledge options. Over half of our total came from just four pledges, which was essential to hitting our target. We recognised that there are some generous individuals and organisations in the city who want to support projects like ours, and put together some different pledge options aimed at them. Some of these pledges came following face to face conversations at events, others via partner organisations sharing our campaign.

I learnt a lot from running the Crowdfunder. If I did it again, I would prepare more in advance of the launch; maybe brainstormed different social media approaches and ideas and have things like tweets prepared in advance. We also got flyers printed halfway through which we distributed in local veg boxes, and I think this would have had more effect if it was done early in the campaign. When talking face to face, it really helped to have something to give to people with a link to the website on it.”

What advice would you share with organisations or groups thinking of crowdfunding?

109567-d2d03fee5d042e0af5ae93d65377d360“My advice to other groups or organisations thinking of Crowdfunding? Go for it, but don’t underestimate the amount of work it will involve. There is always another email you can send, a tweet to make or someone you could phone. Equally, make sure you switch off and have time away from it all, as it’s easy to get lost and feel overwhelmed by it. In terms of the campaign itself, have a think about your contacts and networks and rally them prior to the launch of the campaign; we aimed to get 10% of our pledges on the first day to help build peoples trust in it. Also, don’t underestimate the value of face to face conversations, so try and get along to related events to talk to people about your project and why they should support it.

For us, it was also about so much more than the money; it was a chance to share our vision and plans for the organisation and the city. It was about raising awareness of the challenges facing local food production in Bristol, and what we are doing to try and support local producers. It engaged a whole new group of people in our work, and acted as a giant marketing and publicity exercise.

The best thing about the Crowdfunder was that we gained so many new members through it, as with many of the rewards we chose to include a year’s membership to Bristol Food Producers. So now we get to stay in touch with our supporters and invite them to our masterclasses, networking events and involve them in the ongoing work that we are doing as an organisation. We’re also hoping that many of them will choose to stay members in the future, bringing long term income into the organisation.”

How you can get involved

Better Bristol Crowdfunding, Blog
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