4 (more) lessons from a successful Kickstarter Campaign

Kick starter

Get it?

As you might have gathered from the relative lack of activity here in the past couple of weeks,  my head has been somewhere else.   Specifically, it’s been over here in Kickstarter land.

I’m happy to report that the effort paid off, and as of last week, Mach 30 successfully met its fundraising goal.  More importantly (for you at least) we learned 4 more Kickstarter lessons since my last post.


A good campaign generates more than money

A sprout in a lightbulb.

Image via Wikipedia

Like most people, we found our way to Kickstarter because we had a project and needed money.  We were pleased to discover our backers and potential backers had a lot more than just cash to offer. Continue reading

3 Lessons from my first Kickstarter Campaign

Late last month the rest of the Mach 30 board and I launched our first Kickstarter campaign.

Since the goal of the campaign is  to create a SourceForge for Open Source Hardware and I don’t expect there are a ton of open source hardware folks hanging out here* I’m going to skip the “give us money part.”

On the other hand, almost all of you are interested in how to fund the work that drives you, so I’ll focus on the three big lessons we learned from our first attempt at a Kickstarter campaign–as well as a bonus lesson that applies to successful projects of all kinds. Continue reading

Adventures in Fundraising: Just Do It!

To-do list book.

Image by koalazymonkey via Flickr

This post is part of a series.  Click here to read previous posts.

Like pretty much every other nonprofit out there, Mach 30 launched a year-end fundraising campaign.  Unlike other organizations, this campaign is not a part of our fundraising plan.

Because we don’t have a fundraising plan.

We meant to have a fundraising plan.  We started to work on one.  And yet, as sometimes happens with all volunteer organizations, the actual planning fell through the cracks.

It was starting to look like we’d just have to put off our fundraising until after the new year.  Luckily for us, one of our board members got impatient (in the good way). Continue reading

Adventures in Fundraising: Sounds Like a Plan

Google Master Plan (frame 2)

Image by jurvetson via Flickr

This post is part of a series.  Catch up on previous Adventures in Fundraising posts here.

Time to adjust

So this “regular update” thing turned out to be harder than I thought.  When I started this journey I committed to weekly updates on our progress.  That did not happen.  Based on the way it didn’t happen I’m rethinking the goal.  Theoretically, weekly updates should be a great motivation and accountability tool.

And yet, here is how it was playing out:

I posted a goal, the week flew by and before I knew it, it was time to report– but I didn’t have anything substantial to say.  Feeling crappy about that, I put off the report for a couple of days, expecting to get more work done so I’d have something to report.  The longer I wait, the more I feel like I need to include before I write.  Then the guilt →procrastination, cycle ensues.

Not Good.

So, I’m going to release the pressure on this for a bit.  I’m still committed to writing about what works and what doesn’t, but without a deadline on when those updates will happen.

On to the real update!

I mentioned last time that while it feels like we are just starting out, we’d been talking about fundraising for awhile.  Until I went back to look for the specifics, I didn’t realize just how much had been done.

We developed a strategic plan for 2010 and have made (and continue to make) some progress towards those goals.  One of the goals, applying for non-profit (501c3/ charity) status is nearly done and required us to develop the same kinds of materials we need to kick off a strong fundraising campaign.  We even completed one small fundraising campaign and set the stage for another, broader ask.

We also have a good start on the foundation we need for the 2011 fundraising campaign.  According to the NOLO book, creating a list of your organization’s fundraising assets is a key element to building a fundraising plan.  And, because it’s NOLO there is also a handy chart.  While this version of the chart is empty for now,  we did a very similar exercise in a board meeting last year, so we’ve got a great place to start.  We need to make some updates, and we’ve got some “translation” work to do, but most of the heavy lifting is finished.

In addition to knowing what we have, we need to know what we need.  In other words, we need a budget.  While I was on vacation, other board members (Thanks J. and Greg!) were hard at work capturing the Mach 30 budget for 2010 (so much easier when the year is almost over!) and drafting the 2011 budget.  We still need to work with the whole board to finalize the budget and go through a formal approval process, but again, mostly done.

Now that we know what we have, and know what we need for 2011, we can spend some board meeting time deciding how to use our assets to raise the money we will need.  Sounds simple!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Test tubes and other recipients in chemistry lab

Image by Horia Varlan via Flickr

Baby experiment

We are well on our way to a fundraising plan for 2011.  You may, however have noticed 2010 isn’t actually over.  So rather than waiting until January to kick off our efforts, We are planning a “mini campaign” for the rest of 2010.

The most expensive (and most effective) thing we do right now to spread the word about Mach 30 is send people to conferences.  Since we have no budget to speak of, travelers have been covering this expense out of pocket.  While we don’t think it’s appropriate for Mach 30 to cover 100%   of such expenses, we would like to be able to contribute.  We’d also like other active Mach 30 participants (beyond board members) to access the travel funds.

I’ve not worked out the details on this campaign yet–so if you have ideas, now is the time to share them in the comments!

For next time

  • update asset list, and transfer information into the asset inventory worksheet
  • finalize the 2011 budget
  • write and launch the travel campaign
  • keep reading the NOLO book

How are your fundraising efforts coming?  Share with us in the comments!

Adventures in Fundraising: Where do I start?

Photo Credit: quinn.anya

In my introduction post, I indicated we were just starting to think about fundrasing at Mach 30.  That’s not exactly true.  We’ve been talking about it for while.  We are accepting donations, and have  raised a little bit money.

We just can’t seem to build any momentum.  Part of the problem is time.  I’ve never seen a nonprofit with enough time and resources to do all that they wanted to do–and that problem is intensified in all volunteer organizations.  This long to-do list makes it easy for the things we don’t really know how to handle to go from the back burner to being pushed right off the back of the stove.

I also don’t think it’s a matter of technical expertise.  On the surface at least, none of the individual strategies nonprofits use to raise money seem especially difficult.  When we talk about the need to raise money in board meetings we get very excited, we schedule meetings to decide how to move forward.  This is where we get stuck. We start talking about fundraising, which leads to a discussion about target markets and then marketing in general.  That discussion leads to a discussion of programing, and then we start drafting a budget.  After an hour or so of that conversation, it’s hard to remember where we started.  It is like grabbing a rope in the middle and then trying to follow it to the end, only to discover there is no end but rather a seamless loop.

In order to move forward, we need a concrete place to start.

My commitment

  • Organize existing resources and fundraising ideas into a useful format
  • Read Chapters 2-3  of the NOLO Fundraising Guide*
  • Propose a concrete next step toward a concrete, actionable fundraising plan.

My question

How much organizational structure in terms of marketing, programing and budgeting needs to be done before launching a fundriasing campaign?

Your Turn

Where are you on your fundraising journey?  Share your plans and ask your questions in the comments or on the Facebook page.

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*We are also using the NOLO guide for How to Form a NonProfit Corporation and can’t say enough good things about the series.