The Climate of Crowdfunding Part 2

The Climate of Crowdfunding

Part 2: How to Make it Work

Last week, we covered the topic of whether crowdfunding was worth your organization’s time.

What’s important to note is that the numbers concerning donors show that crowdfunding is becoming increasingly popular, especially in younger generations (Millennials and Generation Z).

To highlight crowdfunding’s ability to attract large donations (usually through numerous lesser amounts), here are a few recent success stories:

·         Dr. Erica Ollmann Saphire has raised $107,421 for the hiring of a postdoctoral fellow to analyze data related to eradicating Ebola.

·         Project EPIC has raised $35,341 to help assemble and distribute packs containing Essentials, Provisions, Information, and Care to help the homeless get back on their feet.

·         A Ray of Hope has raised $258,003 to build the first educational and therapy center for special needs children in Tiruvannamalai, India.

Unlike many commercial crowdfunding initiatives, attaining the goal isn’t always necessary to engender change. Of those three campaigns listed above, none have reached their goal, yet the money can still further their causes. Crowdfunding, because of its reliance on numerous, often anonymous donors, is rarely used as the only source of donations for a specific project, so in a lot of cases the goal is an ideal amount but not the end of the project if the campaign falls short.

Those campaigns look impressive with their large dollar amounts, but how did they get there? What steps were taken to lay the groundwork necessary for success?

Although there is an endless stock of tips and tricks depending on who is speaking (or writing), here are three big ideas that you should prioritize before going public with your campaign.

1.      An involved, active, and social media-savvy committee

What do we need for all fundraising events? A committee. Crowdfunding is no different in that respect. There needs to be a group of dedicated individuals with connections who are driven to make sure the campaign succeeds.

Are they posting and sharing campaign information on social media? Are they attending meetings? Are they donating? Do they know their roles? Be sure you ask yourselves these questions—and know the answers!

Because Crowdfunding is still new for a lot of people, it’s important to be sure that the committee members are aware of what they are signing up for. This type of campaign requires a lot more internet know-how and willingness to engage on social media.

An inactive committee will doom the campaign before it launches.

2.      The Soft Launch

This committee’s first and perhaps most important responsibility will look familiar to anyone who has launched a fundraising campaign: The Soft (or Quiet) Launch. After determining the goal for the campaign, and quietly launching the campaign’s online platform, the committee should get to work securing donations. It is ideal that as close to 50 percent of the campaign is funded when it goes live. Ideal but not required—more is always better.

The reason is simple enough: As the campaign spreads through social media to individuals unaware of your organization, it becomes more difficult for them to be convinced to give; however, when someone sees that a campaign is nearing its conclusion, their small contribution feels more worthwhile—they are contributing to the final push over the finish line. An online campaign circling the net with little money donated looks like a dead cause. Notably, according to Tony Haile of Chartbeat, 55 percent of internet browsers spent fewer than 15 seconds on a page. This means there is little time to grab a potential donor’s attention, and if the first thing they see is a great distance to the goal, then those 15 seconds are over and they are out.

3.      Planned Engagement with Social Media

Social Media engagement represents the most critical aspect of a successful Crowdfunding campaign. Most individuals understand what Facebook and Twitter (I’ll focus on those two platforms as they are the most recognizable today) are, and most of those people probably know how to post or share on those platforms—at least to a serviceable level. But participating on social media with the intent of sharing a crowdfunding campaign is much more complicated than posting about your dinner or sharing a funny story.

The committee, staff, and volunteers need to have the social media engagement planned from the beginning. What types of media (pictures, video) will be gathered and posted? How often should the campaign be shared across each platform? Should everyone share or should individuals take turns? Who is responsible for producing new and updated content so that the same tweets/posts aren’t being recycled throughout the campaign’s life?

Those are a lot of questions to consider. What I recommend is creating a weekly social media calendar that specifically lays out what media is being posted and when, who will share it, and what platforms will be used. By having an organized schedule, it will be easier to track the activity and effectiveness of the engagement. Perhaps the activity on Twitter is getting very few likes and retweets—examine why that might be and change what individuals are tweeting.

The popularity of social media is not an accident. It has power because of its ability to connect everyone. Don’t treat your campaign’s posts as afterthoughts or accidents. Treat them as conversations with potential donors.

The takeaway, if it can be simplified, is that Crowdfunding is anything but simple. It has enormous potential based on its ability to reach an audience wider than any other form of fundraising. That potential, however, comes at a cost of being reliant on the generosity of internet strangers who may have no personal connection to your organization or cause. This makes the appeal difficult—how do you convince someone to give your cause money even when they may not feel any connection to it? A question like this is too large to answer right now, but perhaps it can be up for discussion in a later post.

Good luck in your crowdfunding endeavors.

Skye Strategies attends a Lookouts game

Last Friday, the staff of Skye Strategies was invited to attend a Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game as benefit of winning the Chattanooga Chamber’s Small Business Award. Additionally, our President and Founder, Jennifer Hoff, was given the honor of throwing one of the game’s ceremonial first pitches. While she admitted she was nervous she would completely miss home plate, her weeks of diligent practice paid off. Jennifer threw the pitch, which went a little high, but nevertheless ended up in the mitt of the Lookouts catcher. We erupted in cheers.

Jennifer Hoff readies herself for the pitch

Jennifer Hoff readies herself for the pitch

It was a lot of the staff's first time attending a baseball game, and we all truly enjoyed the opportunity to experience what we've been missing. It was a fun and energetic experience, and although the temperature was hot, and the game was somewhat cool on the action, we were privileged to experience our home team pulling off a narrow victory of 3 to 2 against the Montgomery Biscuits.

The Skye Strategies team

The Skye Strategies team

We want to thank the Lookouts for both the invitation to attend the game and even more so for the opportunity to watch Jennifer throw the first pitch. We know it's an experience none of us (especially Jennifer) will ever forget.

Go Lookouts!

The Climate of Crowdfunding

The Climate of Crowdfunding

Part 1: Is it worthwhile? 

As social media’s impact continues to grow in our everyday lives, it is inevitable that the way we give changes. How has social media and to a broader extent, the internet, altered the fundraising landscape for nonprofits? While the research in this philanthropic area is still in its infancy, there are some valuable discussions around crowdfunding in both commercial and nonprofit avenues. One 2016 study I wish to recognize is by the Pew Research Center. This study highlights the growing popularity of crowdfunding-based giving. It shows that 22 percent of American adults have contributed to a crowdsourced online fundraising project in their lifetime, while 41 percent have heard of these platforms but have yet to contribute. What this demonstrates is that individuals are giving through online platforms, and even more so, nearly half of individuals are aware of those platforms as a pathway of giving. Unsurprisingly, crowdfunding is popular among those aged 18-49. This is a huge population in which crowdfunding continues to grow and shows what the future of giving will look like.

So, we know that there are people giving through these platforms, but how much is really being given? Is it worth the time necessary to create a comprehensive online-based Ask? The same study goes on to report that the majority of respondents reported the most given at one time is $50, while a much smaller 3 percent reported that they have donated more than $500 to a single project. This may not seem like a lot, but when factoring in the massive audience crowdfunding can target, $50 per individual can really add up.

It is important to note that the Pew study did not differentiate between commercial- and charity-based giving, so it’s important to look at the reasons for giving in the report. Online crowdfunding was originally created primarily for-profit organizations (see Kickstarter’s fame), but the study found that most donors, 68 percent, have given to help another person in need, and while most of these donations were to individuals that they knew, the significant emphasis on giving to individual need over commercial need is an important consideration. What may have had its beginnings in commercial enterprise has shown a trend toward charitable causes.

What makes a good nonprofit crowdfunding campaign? In a lot of ways, it’s similar to any other fundraising effort. When approaching any fundraising initiative, it’s important to consider the kinds of personal connections that the potential donors and the organization have. Why should someone give your cause money over someone else? Online crowdfunding taps into this concept as shown in Pew’s study: 87 percent of respondents reported that they believed crowdfunding platforms helped donors feel more connected to the projects. This is huge! We want our donors to feel a connection, and if crowdfunding lends itself to creating those connections, there is something there to be tapped into.

Crowdfunding platforms are clearly growing. The younger cohorts are giving through these methods, and they see them as having enormous potential in helping them find connection to a certain cause or need. While older donors may prefer more traditional methods of giving, the movement of Millennials into a more financial stable place, as well as the upcoming Generation Z, call for a growing emphasis on internet-based fundraising initiatives. Don’t fall behind while those around you take advantage of this opportunity.

Check out next week’s post for specific tips on running a successful crowdfunding campaign.

CGLA and Mustang Leadership Partners

Wednesday was a warm and cloudless day for both the students of Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA) and the mustangs of Mustang Leadership Partners (MLP).



The students were participating in a demonstration highlighting their work in the Student MLP program. Beginning in 2008, the program is a year-long commitment in which students work alongside former wild mustangs in order to develop and practice relationship skills, self-awareness, leadership, and responsibility. Students who show interest in the academically-backed program must undergo a challenging application and selection process to ensure their dedication to both themselves and the mustangs. 

This partnership between CGLA and MLP is one great example of the extra mile the school goes into guaranteeing their students learn skills that impact their whole life and not just those from a textbook. 

We've Moved to Main!

We are now well into our first week in our new space at The Clearstory building on E. Main Street. Although we enjoyed our time at Society of Work in the Edney, our growth necessitated a larger space and The Clearstory met that need perfectly. 

We love our new space with its exposed brick, large windows, and hardwood floors. We could not be happier, and we hope to spend many successful years here. 

We want to close out our time at Society of Work by saying that we really appreciate all of their support. They have been a phenomenal resource for us as a small, growing business. 

We now look toward the future as we take in the new sights at The Clearstory. 

400 E. Main Street #130D

Chattanooga, TN 37408


Urban League launches Inclusive By Design

Urban League of Greater Chattanooga is launching an executive leadership program for women and people of color. This program, "Inclusive By Design," will run for 9-months each year providing training to 10 to 12 individuals with the goal of increasing diversity in executive positions.

For more information:

Check out Urban League at

Small Business Award Winner 2017!

On March 29, 2017 we were the recipient of the 2017 Small Business Award (1-20 employees) presented by the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. We are incredibly proud that we were able to succeed against the strong competition of 6 Strong Media and Flywheel Brands, Inc.

We want to give a huge thank you to Chattanooga, the Chamber, and our clients for all of their unwavering support as we've built our business over the last five years.


More information available here: