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Set the Foundation

When creating a new program within an organization, it is important to establish a core team of users and advocates, as well as market the new technology to internal constituents.

Build Your Brand

Whether you choose to give your platform a name or simply plan to add a “crowdfunding” section to your giving website, developing a brand that communicates excitement and empowerment to visitors is an important aspect of developing a platform that will have lasting value and interest to your university.

For example, Oklahoma State University named their Community Funded platform “PhilanthroPete” naming the platform after their university’s mascot, Pete. Conversely, University of Colorado Boulder added a “crowdfunding” section to their giving site, but tightly knit the platform into the university brand’s look and feel to the entire platform:

Developing Brand Assets

Whether or not you choose to give your platform a brand-name, you should develop organization-branded assets that can be used to create visual continuity across your website and social media platforms. Defining a tagline or logo for your platform will help build recognition and convey the sense of the crowdfunding platform’s vision.

Describe Your Vision & Share Your Mission

Part of developing a strong brand is in telling the story of the platform itself: why it exists, and what impact it seeks to cause. Include these details on the homepage of the platform, and consider including an “about” page that can further share the intent and excitement of the platform. Your platform should contain an “About” page that shares the vision/mission.

Our vision is of a centralized storytelling platform where your community can gather to share and support the goals of campaigns that drive a meaningful impact in the world. While we can share our vision with you, the vision for your platform must come from within. Understanding your own vision and intentions, and clearly communicating them to your team and community at large is an important aspect of building an empowering platform of lasting value.

To help refine your vision, ask your team the following fundamental questions:

  • Why does your organization do what it does, and how will this platform extend that mission?
  • What will your platform look like, feel like and be like in 5 years?
  • What types of campaigns will it be supporting?
  • Who will this platform impact?
  • How is the extent of this impact will it drive in the world?
  • Why is this platform something you feel everyone at your organization should believe in? Is it collaboration? Community support for meaningful initiatives?

Develop Standards & Core Messaging

To solidify your platform’s brand, you should create a standard document that explains the mission and vision of the platform, provides boilerplate language that others can use to explain and share the initiative, and provide any logos, colors or taglines that are acceptable for public use.

Create Your Internal Marketing Strategy 

Integrating a centralized storytelling platform into your organization and community begins with building support from within. To this end, “internal marketing” is an important first step in your marketing plan.

The goals of internal marketing are:

  • To build awareness/excitement for the platform
  • Developing a platform administration team
  • Locating your first campaign teams
  • “Pre-motion” of platform/campaigns ahead of public launch events

The Message

Develop a message that communicates the big opportunities to your stakeholders, and relate the change to how this will relieve pain points, solve existing problems, and open avenues to new levels of growth, for your department, for the organization, for beneficiaries, existing programs, and the local community at large.

At the foundation level, connect stakeholder capabilities with positive outcomes if they buy into this new fundraising solution.

It’s essential to identify and articulate any existing fundraising practices that stand to be altered, or even discontinued (post-pilot phase.) Explain why the new solution is better.

What are the stakes if it succeeds?

What are the consequences if it fails?

Detail contingency plans for both potential outcomes. Contingency plans will vary for every single organization, but there are a couple of things to consider. First, crowdfunding is a very flexible medium, and your platform is equally flexible. Second, pilot phases are essential to determining bottlenecks that were invisible at the time of platform integration, and allow for lithe adoption of new tactics, without committing to large ranks of new employees or major changes that are difficult to roll back. Start small, learn from each iteration, and adjust your trajectory to capitalize on the platform’s success.

Ongoing Internal Communications

It is important to build an ongoing internal communications plan. Typically, this will leverage the same channels used to create internal awareness of the platform.

Communications should include:

  • Announcements regarding the launch of significant campaigns
  • Celebrations of milestones and achievements
  • Request for initiatives
  • Updates from past campaigns
  • Comprehensive platform results at regular intervals (FY, semester, as you see fit.)

Crowdfunding is a big opportunity to ignite the hearts and minds of your people, including your staff. We don’t always have the opportunity to talk about our passions “at work,” let alone engage them. Crowdfunding opens up a new world to telling each impassioned story, and we hope this change management plan helps you cover your bases to make the transition smooth, empowering, and very successful.

Urgency and a Vision for the Future

There is a reason that we call the process of integrating your new platform “empowering.” Crowdfunding puts the power to raise funds into the community’s hands and allows for targeted, engaged, transparent fundraising to get money to what matters, fast.

More than any other single factor in a successful change management plan is clear communication of the urgency of the situation. Crowdfunding is no different, except that urgency is built right into the model: crowdfunding campaigns are built with limited timelines to encourage potential supporters to donate at the earliest time they are able, and to share the stories that speak to them with their own family, friends and extended networks.

For successful adoption of your new platform, the urgency you feel to incorporate crowdfunding must spread to other stakeholders — in the Advancement offices, throughout existing development offices across the organization, and even in the areas of Principle and Planned Giving. There are champions in your midst. Identifying those key stakeholders is the first step; communicating the vision for incorporating discrete crowdfunding campaigns, programs to support entire colleges while providing targeted fundraising opportunities for specific efforts, and even annual Days of Giving is the next step.

We firmly believe what the growing field of Change Management has shown: having a clear vision for your platform’s adoption and growth, paired with clearly communicating the urgency generated by the nearly boundless possibilities for concentrated, focused fundraising efforts will lead to a sustained and sustaining crowd fundraising platform.

Orchestrating Small Wins

Change management at the organizational level is often a complex process, with so many unique situations for each organization, that it can be challenging to select a game plan with alacrity. One method that is essential across organizations and different types of implementations is to orchestrate small wins from the start.

Small wins build organizational buy-in, help to prove the viability of the adoption, and create a strong affinity for observing groups to get on board. They are novel and help individual stakeholders make sense of the changes and their impact.

Protect your equity concern. For the pilot programs, aim to produce the best product that you can. In the case of the pilot campaigns, this means you want to look for the people who are most ready to make a visible impact, listen to best practices, incorporate engaging, unique and powerful storytelling, and work hard throughout the campaign’s live timeline to blow past their goal.

Often the groups that are most prepared to take on pilot campaigns are also the groups with the most existing resources. With good expectations and storytelling management, this can work to your benefit. If your Athletics department has a strong, engaged audience, and a goal that is ripe for fundraising, encourage them to run a pilot campaign. Their success opens inroads to areas that are less prepared at the outset.

Once the pilot campaigns have closed, you will have real data for your platform to bolster buy-in from the next group. Aim to build your platform’s success over time, beginning with the best prepared and educating the next-best prepared at each iteration. This allows for a tiered adoption approach and allows stakeholders, staff, and others to become well prepared.

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