Whatever its cause, mission, size, field or area of action, all not-for-profit organizations need money to carry out their projects. So, a solid fundraising strategy is essential to programmes, projects, or activities’ implementation. The composition of this strategy must be creative, using different possibilities for action depending on the different fundraising targets: foundations, companies, public funds, high net worth individuals, the general public.

Previously a tool used by start-ups and SMEs, crowdfunding is becoming increasingly attractive to non-profit organizations.

According to the SME portal of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, crowdfunding is an alternative method of financing involving many contributors. Each contributor provides only a small part of the total amount needed for a wide variety of projects. Funders are generally mobilized via platforms that put project leaders in touch with financial contributors, usually private individuals.

Crowdfunding is therefore a tool that, if used wisely, can bring financial benefits as well as the opportunity to position your organization well in the eyes of a supportive audience of your cause and to create a solid community around a project.

However, embarking on a crowdfunding campaign requires a great deal of time and effort on the part of project leaders. In this article, I talk to Susana Alzate, director of the Tricrochet association in Geneva, who shares her recent experience of a successful campaign.

1- What does the Tricrochet association do and why a crowdfunding campaign?

Tricrochet is a registered charity that has been working with and for the people of Geneva for 8 years to protect the environment. More than just an association, we’re a big family promoting a new way of life and a new way of consuming. Together, we’re shaping a more sustainable future, with respect for and in harmony with nature. We are an association where the re-use of plastics and the use of manual techniques such as weaving and sewing are used as a source of social and economic integration, as well as a creator of intergenerational links. 

To this purpose, we offer creative and awareness-raising workshops on the repurposing of recycled plastics and textiles. Our “Sensibilise ” and “Consolide ” programmes have given us solid experience in developing and running creative and awareness-raising workshops. 

However, the Tricrochet association did not have its own space to develop its workshops and creations. The team worked in a space shared by several associations, with access only during limited hours – two and a half days a week. So that was a huge limitation. 

The crowdfunding campaign was set up to secure new facilities that would enable the association to expand its activities, increase its impact, offer new workshops and new timetables for existing workshops. In particular, the new facility is the first step towards the implementation of the association’s next project, which consists of offering workshops to help companies make the ecological transition.

2- Which platform has been chosen and why?

We have opted for the SIG Impact platform because Tricrochet’s mission is closely aligned with SIG’s eco21 programme, which has been driving the energy transition in Geneva since 2007, and we have therefore fulfilled all the conditions for participation. SIG Impact is a platform that is well positioned in Geneva, by and for its residents, its issues, and its solutions. So, it’s a platform that’s very focused on our subject, with an audience large and very interesting geographically. Another reason is that there are fewer projects on this platform at any one time. By the way, the support was impeccable.

3- How should the framework of the campaign be defined and what should be planned before the launch?

To launch a crowdfunding campaign, you first need to understand the organization’s ability to build a community and carefully assess whether the project leader and his or her team are ready to get involved in running the campaign, talking to friends and family and friends of friends and family, presenting themselves and appearing on social networks. Motivation is essential! 

You need to know the 3 circles of the target audience and work on one after the other from the pre-launch to the final sprint. The 1st circle is made up of close friends, family and anyone who has a close link with the project and/or trusts you. They will be the ambassadors and first campaign relays, stakeholders alongside the project leader. It is essential to ensure that they are prepared to take part in the campaign. The 2nd circle are friends of friends, relatives, colleagues, people you know, communities. This 2nd circle doesn’t know you very well, yet it’s those in the first circle who will personally share information about the campaign to convince the second circle. Finally, the 3rd circle is the general public, i.e. the people who live nearby, who do not know the organization but potentially will benefit from the project in question.

Three golden rules for the project framework: set a realistic objective; determine a duration that is compatible with your daily communication capacity, but never more than 4-5 weeks; offer attractive rewards.

4- How important is the organization’s digital presence and how can social networks be used to support the campaign?

From my experience, I would say that a crowdfunding campaign is basically a communication campaign around a specific project or objective. Its success depends on the commitment that the team is able to build, so it’s essential that the organization already has a community active in its activities, as well as a dedicated social media presence. And it is imperative that everyone involved in the campaign (project leader, team, volunteers, ambassadors, friends, and family) is motivated to work hard every day during the campaign period.

5- Concerning community mobilization: opportunities and challenges that have been observed.

Our campaign has become a tool for raising awareness of our mission, achieving record engagement, and generating visibility and recognition for the association on social networks. Here are a few figures: 14% of new subscribers to our newsletter; 2,000 views of the campaign videos, compared with our average of 200 views.

I would say that a slight challenge was communicating the campaign to our members, given that the majority of them were not familiar with this type of initiative, particularly the elderly. It took some time to explain how to share, how to participate, how to explain. However, the biggest challenge was to maintain motivation and momentum throughout the campaign. You have to work every day, communicate, publish, talk to people and encourage others to do the same.

6- Let’s get started! 5 tips to get you there!

  • Involve your friends and family: they will be your first contributors, but also those who will personally share information about the project as ambassadors.
  • Think carefully about the rewards: it’s essential to have interesting and attractive rewards. Even think about changing the rewards in the middle of the campaign to maintain engagement. 
  • Choose your campaign team carefully and make sure that you and your team are ready to work 100% every day throughout the campaign.
  • Prepare both the video and the campaign page with care and criteria. Consider telling your story authentically and openly, explaining your needs and intentions emotionally. You need a story that speaks to people, that makes them want to take part.
  • Use the campaign to test one of your association’s projects, to find out whether the community accepts the project’s ideas. If they do, they’ll get involved!

Discover the Tricrochet association’s successful campaign here: https://www.sig-impact.ch/projets/tricrochet/

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