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Guest Blog by Louise Baigelman, Executive Director, Story Shares. It is the second part in a series of posts LearnLaunch asked Ms. Baigelman to write about crowdfunding her edtech startup.

 

We’re just over two weeks into our #StoryShares Kickstarter campaign, and we’re pausing to reflect on our experience so far.

It has been a roller coaster ride!

We’re 52% to our goal, and we have a little less than $24,000 left to raise. We’ve been encouraged by the support of our network, blown away by the generosity of our backers, and grateful for the involvement of our partners, who have helped us to spread the word and engage broader audiences. On the other hand, we can’t help but feel a bit nervous about getting the rest of the way there and are continually analyzing our campaign and our outreach efforts to try and figure out the best approach.

With Kickstarter, there are some things you can change after the campaign goes live, and there are some things that must remain the same. You’re free to swap out pictures, change the story write-up, the tagline, the bios, and certainly the promotion around the campaign. But the goal, the duration of the campaign, and the reward tiers are all set in stone.

Before we launched this campaign, we spent a good deal of time debating where to set our goal. We knew that we would not be able to keep the funds we raised unless we hit our goal, so we definitely didn’t want to set it too high. On the other hand, planning and launching a campaign like this is a big effort, and there are many costs associated with it. So, we had to be sure to set our goal high enough that it would actually make a difference for the work we are doing. We came to consensus at $50,000. While we are on track to get there, the concept of falling short and not being able to take home any of the money pledged is downright terrifying. It’s easy to be haunted by the question: did we set it too high? The only viable answer to that question is: we are completely determined to make it not so.

The more actionable question that we’ve thought about the most since the launch of the campaign is: how do we message what we’re doing in a way that has mass appeal? How do we get people outside of our close circles to hear about Story Shares and feel compelled to contribute? This is a tough question, and one we continue to ponder and test. Since the launch of the campaign, we’ve revised and refined our message a few times to try and understand what gets people excited about the cause and motivated to join our efforts. We’ve played with different feature images, different taglines, and different tones on social media. We’ve reframed the story to call out the specific project in more detail. We’ve changed the language to be pithier, more positive, easier to grasp, and more urgent.

We’re learning every day. In fact, we’ve realized that this campaign has been a very powerful tool for refining our message and telling our story more effectively in general. It affords us the opportunity for direct and immediate feedback. It lets us change and assess, then change again, and then assess again. While raising money is still the primary purpose here, we’ve found this to be a valuable exercise for Story Shares as an organization more broadly. We’ll come out of this experience with a better understanding of how to tell the Story Shares story.

We have high hopes for the next 12 days and we will be working tirelessly to ensure that this Kickstarter campaign is a success!