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Crowdfunding Social Media Campaign Raises $64,000 for The Patriots Initiative

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60K raised in donor funding

2000 more Twitter followers

2000 more Instagram followers

2900 Facebook members reached per month

The Patriots Initiative (TPI), a non-profit organization that distributes 100% of its funds to military support programs, decided to start a Crowdfunding to raise money and awareness about active service members and veterans. After having a successful interaction with our team to grow their social media presence in a previous campaign, they sought out our services for this next endeavor.

Capitol Tech Solutions (CTS) helped guide them through the process of preparing for the Crowdfunding Campaign, consulting them through various strategies, and provided guidance on implementation. Their initial goal was to raise $30,000 for the entire campaign. Which would run for a period of seven weeks – August 15th, 2017, through October 3rd, 2017.

TPI total crowdfunding donations raised graph
Crowdfunding Donation Chart (Credit: FirstGiving – TPI Fundraiser Page)
Towards the end of the campaign, the group’s effort to raise $30,000 had been achieved; at the end of the campaign, the team shattered the previous threshold to raise a total of $64,000 (post campaign donations account for this new total). A few highlights:

  • Surpassed original goal of 30K to raise over 60K in donor funding.
  • Reinvented how to promote awareness for cause to new and existing audiences.
  • Grew social media account followership astronomically ahead of regular growth patterns during campaign.

In the beginning of the campaign, the climb to receiving donations was slow and steady; which validates the expectations in the first part of the goal – to promote the awareness about the campaign. As a few weeks went on, the Crowdfunding Team gained traction after analyzing what had worked.

The important thing to note about the success of the campaign was a process of developing a goal, constantly identifying where success could be found, and adapting to the behavior of the users across all the different platforms.

Phase 1 – Develop a Goal & Strategy

The Patriots Initiative had a desire to initiate a campaign in order to distribute a significant amount of funds towards organizations that assist with active military service members and veterans alike. This was the second annual Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon Challenge that TPI’s members’ volunteered to hike in order to raise funds.

The goal and purpose this try around, was to try a new approach to raising funds for the cause by utilizing their social media channels effectively.

TPI had gathered a group of volunteers who were capable, enthusiastic, and passionate to hike 25 miles in a single trip around the Grand Canyon. This alone was enough to market to the target audience in order to ask for their support in an organization they believe in.

The goal for the month of August was to develop awareness for the campaign to potential donors. The goal was to highlight the humanitarian efforts and assistance that their generous donations would be to the mission of The Patriots Initiative. The goal for the month of September was to reflect that same mission, but acquire more donors with the awareness of the campaign freshly in their minds.

“Every campaign, no matter the cause or mission, needs to have a roadmap, as well as a calendar, to evaluate direction and progress.”

How would the Social Media Marketing Team reach out to supporters effectively, let alone the right ones? Fortunately, CTS had been helping TPI gain a strong followership with over two years of Social Media Growth to enhance their Brand Awareness. Capitol Tech Solutions had helped The Patriots Initiative garner a trusty following on their Social Media Network.

Phase 2 – Identify Target Persona Insight to Promote Campaign

Our Social Media Marketing Team had spent two years carefully finding unique followers that fit TPI’s ideal customer persona. With thousands of valuable followers on Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram, the audience was large and broad to market this type of campaign towards. Although there were large audiences to present to on multiple platforms, the type of language, content, and delivery methods were important to know and understand.

Every social media platform presented it’s own strengths and barriers with promoting the campaign; however, it’s important to note that each campaign’s effectiveness is unique and cannot be generalized. For instance, we understood that if we were to seek out a large donation for the campaign, LinkedIn would be a great way to connect with executives and business owners alike with military background.

For smaller donations with a large audience, the other social media platforms are great to tap into. Instagram is a great way to engage with a community of family members who are emotionally engaged, charged, and fired up to support this type of campaign. Twitter’s followership identifies with users who are well informed and ready to respond to social and political issues; it’s safe to say that promoting the health and wellness of all military service members and veterans is something that’s a particular hot topic on this platform. Facebook allows for a basic and simple way to share your brand with your followers with engaging posts and sharing other content alike. Each platform played an integral role in the success in promoting the campaign.

After meeting with The Patriots Initiative, our team developed a comprehensive Social Media Marketing Strategy that focused on four primary pieces:

  • Promote the Crowdfunding Campaign through the donation platform FirstGiving.
  • Curate original content (video, photos, team member testimonials, etc.) for a compelling campaign mission.
  • Consistently research and evaluate the successes or shortcomings of the previous week’s strategy.
  • Implement what worked, scrap what didn’t work.

It was crucial that the team carefully conduct ethical outreach methods to create trusting relationships with people who had good faith in The Patriots Initiative.

Phase 3 – Strategic & Technical Implementation

In order to promote the campaign TPI and CTS had carefully constructed, sharing relevant content to engage and educate the target audience was absolutely necessary. Developing an understanding of the audience’s interests is one of the most important parts for any campaign. Without knowing what peaks the user’s interest, how will you know what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure?

Before the Campaign Outreach had initiated, weekly meetings were scheduled to assess and evaluate the findings from each Social Media Platform. Social media marketing only works by understanding the behaviors and attitudes of your followers on their platform of choice. Our outreach team needed to conduct careful evaluation regarding what was known as normal behavior in response and followership. Each platform presented it’s own challenges and successes through trial and error.

Facebook Sharing & Promotion Details

One of the most surprising and noteworthy topics of discussion for the campaign was the use of Facebook during the campaign. We had initially thought that Facebook would be one of the driving forces in regards to donations. However, this was not the case.

Despite the data reflecting the best performing month of The Patriots Initiative’s Facebook activity, very little donation activity could be credited to the platform itself. We noticed that it was the least active platform in comparison to Instagram and Twitter. It was a great way to keep gaining momentum though, because it’s important to know and understand that each campaign is unique in its own facets. Depending on the type of campaign, during a certain time of year, or whether or not it’s supporting a particular cause, the campaign team needs to intuitively make decisions that will yield success wherever it can be found.

Facebook data table for TPI August 2017
Facebook Data for Month of August (Reach, Activity & Engagement are at all-time highs)

Twitter Sharing & Promotion Details

Twitter stands as the most active, quickly paced news-sharing platform in comparison to other social media outlets. TPI has over 12,000 followers on Twitter that we were able to leverage with custom strategies developed for engagement. One strategy that we used to promote donations involved “shout outs” (mentioning) people in tweets for their contribution. People love to feel as if they’re a direct part of the journey; and no matter their donation, the idea to give them recognition proved to be fruitful as we were able to raise just under $1,000 directly from Twitter.

The Capitol Tech Solutions Social Media Marketing Team made sure to note that in several tweets and direct messages to the followers, that even just a single $1 is a worthy contribution. With that, we were able to account for over 15+ donations from Twitter alone, all ranging between $1 – $150.

Instagram Sharing & Promotion Details

Due to the visual depiction on Instagram, evoking emotion is typically a driving force with engagement. Maintaining balance can be a tricky thing, because you need to avoid posting about the campaign too much to the audience. We tried to mix up the posts, but post more frequently to garner a greater number of followers.

One of the strategies that we utilized was to reach out to people who had liked or commented on the posts. We found that it was successful in the sense that people were more inclined to donate when they found our posts interesting and exciting. Like Twitter, we encouraged that any $ donation amount was a sufficient contribution to TPI’s humanitarian efforts. We were able to credit Instagram towards 15+ donations that accounted for over $500; the donations ranged between $1 – $100.

LinkedIn & Email List Details

Forms and other methods of collecting information were placed on The Patriots Initiative’s website to collect user information for outreach. Fortunately, a large database of people who had willingly placed their information in the hands of TPI was a great thing – they had already wanted to have an established connection with the organization.

Team members who also worked for The Patriots Initiative were able to leverage personal contacts who had affiliated themselves with the organization before. Larger donations are harder to obtain from followers with little to no connection of any previous involvement, which is why it’s always important to tap into your personal contact database.

“Utilizing a professional network such as LinkedIn is a great way to find other executives & Members of organizations such as TPI.”

All in all, $1,250+ can be directly attributed to the use of TPI’s contact database for outreach. We found that even though there were some people that hadn’t donated to the campaign via LinkedIn, they were now connected to supporting TPI moving forward by connecting on this platform.

TPI Hiking Team Outreach

One of the most successful parts of the campaign was our involvement with the hikers who were doing the actual event. FirstGiving, the online donation platform The Patriots Initiative utilized to collect donations, allowed for the hikers to have personal profiles to promote the campaign and it’s cause.

The TPI & CTS Crowdfunding Team met in the beginning stages of the campaign to discuss how we could coach the hikers in collecting donations. Our team developed a strategy for reaching out to family and friends of the hikers; which resulted in the 6 hikers accounting for over $61,428 in donations. To say their efforts were successful is an understatement.

Phase 4 – Accounting for Outside Current Events

Towards the end of August and leading into September, The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Challenge had been on fire for gaining momentum and speed. Awareness had picked up and donors were making their impact felt. However, one thing that the Social Media Marketing Team was unable to account for was a total devastation to Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida from the hurricanes, as well as the horrific Las Vegas shooting.

It was without question that the campaign had to go on hold for a portion of the month of September out of respect for those who had just experienced complete devastation from the hurricanes. It also goes without mentioning that the team halted the progress of the campaign when the Vegas shooting on October 1st had occurred.

Both TPI and CTS felt it would be best to direct donation efforts and attention over to support groups lending a helping hand to those in need. As two organizations that focus on the solemn humanitarian efforts of the United States, it was only appropriate to spread awareness that others were immediately in need of help and support.

“Knowing & understanding that something can inadvertently halt the progress of your campaign is imperative for success”

There was no way to predict multiple disastrous events could have occurred, but our teams both learned that preparing for anything is of the utmost importance. Despite feeling like you’re prepared, when conducting a Crowdfunding Campaign, you must be prepared with Plans B, C, & D readily at your disposal.

Phase 5 – Analyzing the Donation Results

Overall, the Social Media Marketing efforts shared between The Patriots Initiative (TPI) and Capitol Tech Solutions (CTS) proved to be quite fruitful in success. While it’s no secret that Crowdfunding Campaigns are quite an extensive process, they’re well worth the investment when it’s towards a great cause.

Other than the fact that TPI more than doubled their expected Crowdfunding expectations, they’re social media presence has grown immensely larger than their initial growth plan. They grew in the following areas just by focusing on the Crowdfunding Campaign:

  • Twitter – 2,000 more followers (1,500 more than the monthly average in their growth plan).
  • Instagram – 2,000 more followers (1,500 more than the monthly average in their growth plan).
  • Facebook – TPI’s metrics across the board broke record highs in Reach (avg. of 2,914 / month) and Engagement (Avg. of 143 / month in post engagement) to current followers, as well as non-followers during the campaign.

The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Challenge was positive in every aspect for TPI, especially for the brand recognition it received from all over the United States of America. Being that it’s a patriotic cause that promotes the humanitarian efforts of honorable organizations, we couldn’t be happier to know our nation’s troops and veterans will benefit from this cause.

TPI crowdfunding donor results by state graph
Donors by State

Phase 6 – Ongoing Website Maintenance & User Experience Required for Further Success

In order to sustain all of the gains made in this campaign, The Patriots Initiative has opted to continue working with Capitol Tech Solutions. This involves Social Media Maintenance and careful watch of opportunities for organic growth and real-time engagement with followers. It’s important to stay current with things on your profile and really the only way to maintain consistency with the brand image.

Alli Hillgren, Co-Director of Marketing at The Patriots Initiative, had this to say about working with Capitol Tech Solutions during the Crowdfunding Campaign:

“Outside of friends and family networks, true crowdfunding is a unique, challenging landscape. It takes expert communication skills, bravery and perseverance – like any fundraising campaign really does. But, it also requires extreme resourcefulness. We managed to far exceed our crowdfunding goal, and a big part of it was thanks to the unwavering devotion and true passion from Capitol Tech Solutions’ crowdfunding consultants, Ilana Harkavy and Steven Vance. They embraced The Patriot’s Initiative cause like it was their very own. We are honored and humbled to have worked on this campaign together with the two of them.”

Until the next Crowdfunding campaign, CTS will continue to grow TPI’s social media accounts and brand awareness. We firmly believe that the best results come from a genuine interest in the user, and the rest will follow.

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