Building a strong community is the key to both successful gardens and crowdfunding campaigns. This will encourage investment and ensure long term success. If every student, parent, and teacher at your school follows these steps, you are 95% more likely to reach your goal.
You need to plan well in advance. Follow these 10 steps for success:
1. Write your pitch
Your pitch is what will be on your school fundraising page. You can also use it for talking points, in emails, etc. While Healthy Planet will draft your initial pitch, we strongly recommend submitting your own — nothing compares to what you as teachers, parents, and students can write from the heart.
A clear, direct, engaging, concise, passionate, and personal presentation of your idea through video, photos and/or text is essential. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential funder scrolling through school garden programs.
Videos help programs raise 122% more money, on average. They help to show and connect the audience to your story. You don’t need a fancy camera or video editing software to make a great pitch video. The best videos are personal and succinct.
What are you trying to raise money for? (soil, seeds, tools, coordinator, curriculum, shed, etc.)
When will your garden program take place? (start date, every week, every day, weekends, annual, etc.)
Where will your garden program take place? (school name, neighborhood, school location, classroom, elective, etc.)
Why are you raising funds? (Show your passion, explain the impact of your garden program, talk about the people who will benefit, etc.)
2. Build a tribe of champions
Contrary to what you may assume, you can’t rely on just sitting back and hope the funds roll in. You’ll need to cultivate a tribe. Start with a list of people that you know and would be willing to take action, and put them in three categories (Downloadable template: Community Crowdfunding Outreach List):
Promoters – People that will share your campaign and updates via email, social media, etc. They’ll amplify your reach. Think of them as your own publicity team. Highlight the ones that are Internet Superstars, people who are especially talented at sharing the latest thing. In the case of social media, they’re often very visible and get a lot of likes, comments, retweets or shares on anything they post. For a successful crowdfunding campaign to really catch fire, you need a handful of these Internet Superstars.
Fundraisers – People that will help solicit for donations via peer-to-peer fundraising. This will often be students asking their family, friends, neighbors, and local businesses. 75% of your campaign funds will likely come this way.
Donors – People that will contribute to your campaign.
Give each group some measurable tasks and goals so that they know how and when to help. Some people can take on multiple roles.
3. Get the word out! Ask friends, family, neghbors, colleagues, local businesses, and others for support
Use your donor list and designate each person as either part of your inner circle, outer circle, or external circle.
These are close friends and family. These are the people that care about you, would buy your bestselling book, or a ticket to see you perform. These are the ones that will contribute first because trust and a relationship are already established.
They should donate to your campaign during your soft launch or within the first 3 days to create public validation, and an army of spokespeople for you (aka more promoters). While many schools can fund their entire garden program from the inner circle ($15 per family can fund an average school garden with an average number of students), at the very least, 40 – 50% of your fundraising goal should come from them.
These are friends, acquaintances, friends of friends, random Facebook friends, extended family, etc. Basically everyone you know that isn’t in your inner circle.
These are active bloggers, Twitter-ers, Facebookers, journalists or local celebs, also known as Influencers, who might take an interest in your garden program and can help spread the word. While these are technically promoters, you may or may not personally know them…yet.
4. Draft 3 emails
Draft 3 “I need your help” emails for each of these “circles” that outlines your school garden program, asks for a donation (of any amount to help kickstart the campaign) and asks them to share the information about your program. (BCC the names on each email that you send). We have some templates you can use, but be sure to personalize them.
- One email for your Inner Circle
- A second email for your Outer Circle that’s similar to the one above, but more broad in scope
- A third email for your External Circle, similar to the others but also outlines how you think they could specifically help (via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, email, etc)
5. Add your campaign page URL to your social media pages, websites, blogs, etc
You can either make them for your school or just for your school garden program.
Once you make these, ask all of your friends and family to follow/like those social media accounts, since that’s where you’ll be posting photos and updates of your garden program that they’ll be supporting.
6. Think local and home grown
Identify all possible forums, school newsletters, district newsletters, community papers, local blogs, local shops and businesses, etc. that can help you promote your campaign and politely ask them to include something about your campaign. Feel free to use the same pitch from your school page or some of our other templates specific to your audience.
7. Send your pre-launch emails
One week before you launch your campaign, send the emails you drafted to your inner circle, outer circle, and Internet Superstars. You want to give them a heads up, but not too soon, otherwise they may forget about it.
8. Launch with an online rally and an event!
Launch in the morning on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, websites, etc. Once you’ve launched, send a reminder email to your inner circle and Internet superstars, telling them that you’ve launched and that NOW is the time for them to donate and share (via their email, Facebook, Twitter, etc) within the next few hours to help create your online rally. The more people that share and talk about your campaign (aka your “rally”) the more people that will see your campaign.
These early donations will create that public validation to build that integral momentum to help spread your campaign.
An event is also a great way to kick off your campaign. This doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy – a casual gathering at a local cafe or restaurant will do the trick – but an event can bring a bit of extra attention to your campaign and make it a little more memorable for your attendees when it comes time to contribute to your project.
9. Send home a flyer and seed packets with all of the students for family, friends, neighbors, and local businesses.
We have a flyer you can use or feel free to make your own! Make sure to wait to send this home until after you’ve launched, to make sure your crowdfunding page is up and ready to receive support!
Sell your seed packets for donations! Whatever the donor decides to give, give them a seed packet in return. We even have a script you can use.
10. Post and share and post and share!
Continue to post and share your campaign throughout the launch day, then at least once per day for the remainder of the campaign. Be creative and unique with your posts. Play up the game-like aspects of a crowdfunding campaign. Knowing how close you are to reaching your tipping point is a strong motivator for supporters – they’ll want to get you over the line. Post photos, which are much more engaging then just text. Post updates to keep everyone informed and wanting to learn more. Break down your campaign content into small tangible components that you can share as posts, always including the link back to your campaign page.
Share from your personal social media accounts and be sure to add a personalized message when you do, explaining why your cause means so much to you – a simple, direct, and heartfelt appeal will get you the most views and support.
Example: Help us reach our goal to build 5 raised beds!
Example: We’re halfway to our goal to start a new school garden elective program!
Example: We’ve raised enough money for 10 shovels, but we need 5 more in order for all 50 students to fully benefit from our new school garden!
Bonus Tips! Keep your contributors updated on your campaign
1. Post regular updates on your social media pages
Campaigns that update 2 – 3 times a week raise 2 times as much money as those who only post 2 – 3 times overall. The more progress you show through updates, the more trust you will gain, and the more funds and sharing that will follow. Updates also build community and give people a more personal look into your garden program.
2. Ask your local businesses for donations
Businesses can make a simple donation, or host a day/night in which they match a percentage of their sales. It’s a fun way for family and friends to support that business AND raise money for your garden! If you’re not sure what to say, check out our “pitch to businesses” template. We have one pitch for kids and one for adults.
Businesses that donate over $100 receive the honor of becoming a School Champion and receive a lot of marketing in return, including:
- Press Releases
- Social Media marketing
- Print Media marketing
- Their logo on the school garden banner, reaching the public 24/7
- Their own webpage on the Healthy Planet website with blog updates, contact details and more, joining other School Champions such as Google, Whole Foods, and Home Depot.