Why you should send project updates

In a recent Crowdfunder survey, 84% of supporters said that receiving project updates is important to them. 

This indicates that sending updates should be a priority for every project. But it’s just one of the reasons why sending updates is a good idea. Unlike direct messages or emails, project updates are made publicly viewable on your project pages, so can perform more than one role at the same time. In this piece we’ll look at three additional reasons why you should send project updates. 

Motivate potential supporters to pledge

Updates are also a brilliant way to show newcomers that you’re active and engaged. This is important as we know that belief in the project owner is strongly linked to belief in the project itself. You can include images or videos showing that exciting things are happening behind the scenes, building on the excitement around the project. Using updates in this way can be really powerful in motivating potential supporters to pledge, as they want to join your crowd!

Empower existing supporters to spread the word

We know that people who have already pledged are clearly on board with your project and want to see it succeed. Because of this, they are one of the best groups to help spread the word even further. Often all that’s needed is a friendly nudge and some shareable content. If you make it as easy as possible, people are more likely to do as you ask. In your update, include a shareable image or bit of text that you can ask your supporters to repost to their own friends.

Build stronger relationships for the future

Updates are the best way to keep your supporters in the loop throughout your crowdfunding journey and beyond. It’s an easy way to keep in touch with everyone, make them feel valued and get excited about what’s coming next. It’s important to remember that you can continue to send updates even after your project has closed. This gives you an ideal platform to share progress, celebrate successes and get your supporters on board with your next big idea! 

AND FINALLY…

When you’re logged in, you’ll find the option to send updates on both your dashboard and your project page. Each project update you send will go to every supporter who has opted to receive them, directly to their email inbox. It will also be posted publicly on your Crowdfunder project page, under the updates tab. 

Try to send one or two updates a week throughout your campaign. In the final few days it’s fine to send a few more than usual, as things can move very quickly so you’ll want to keep on top of the excitement. 

Looking for more guidance on your crowdfunding project? Head over to the Knowledge Hub

Using social media to promote your project

So, you’ve set up your project and you’re excited about sharing it with the world. But how do you do it? 

In our experience, social media is a key way to get your project noticed by those around you. It’s a heavy-weight crowdfunding tool that can hugely impact your project’s success, if you use it well. Most of us are pretty familiar with at least one social media platform and may already use it to stay in touch with friends, share photos, find jobs or even just stay up to date with the latest news.

Whether you’re new to the world of social or have been on it for years, we’ve got you covered. Our social whizzes have broken things down to make everything as simple as possible.

Mix it up

You can use social media to update your audience on your Crowdfunder, including the amount raised so far, any new rewards, and exciting developments. It’s a great way to encourage people to keep talking about your campaign and sharing it far and wide.

A question we get asked a lot is how often to post on socials. Well, the answer to that is dependent on the platform! When it comes to Instagram and Facebook, no more than one post a day is best. A Twitter feed moves a lot faster, which means that you can get away with posting a lot more. Though, as a rule of thumb, it’s recommended to post between one and five tweets per day. 

Make sure to be engaging with posts from other people too.

Though remember that every social media account is unique, so what works for others might not work for you and vice versa!

Eye-catching images

Social media posts with eye-catching images are far more effective in building support for your idea but it’s not always easy to find the time to make nice visuals. In fact, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Not to mention that visual content is 40x more likely to get shared.  

To give you everything you need to get started, we’ve created a marketing library filled with creative and visual content to share across major social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The wonderful world of gifs

Did we mention that we have gifs? Gifs are a great way to add some fun to your social posts and keep people updated about your Crowdfunder using stories. 

If you’ve not used gifs before, it’s really easy to get involved. When uploading a story to Facebook and Instagram, you can search for “CrowdfunderUK” in the sticker search bar and our gifs will appear. You can also find us on Giphy or download your own content from our library!

Connect with Crowdfunder

Here at Crowdfunder we’re always active on social media, shouting about the latest projects, competitions, and crowdfunding news. To stay connected, start by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn. We love to share your news, so let us know you’re going live by tagging us in a post. 

Use hashtags

Hashtags are a way of letting people know what you’re posting about or joining a conversation on social media. The hashtag #CrowdfunderUK is a great one to use, along with #Crowdfunding, #Funding and #Crowdfunder. You can also use any hashtags relevant to your project or intended audience. For example, if you’re opening a brewery then you could use #Beer, #Brewery or #Brewing.


Our top tips for each social media platform

Instagram: Add your project link to your bio for easy access and use relevant hashtags to get it seen by people outside of your immediate network. If your project has a local focus, tag the location in any posts so that others in your area can find it. 

Facebook: Keep sharing your project with your friends and ask them to share it too. Don’t forget, Facebook recommends using video content that’s over 3 minutes long. Post about your project in local groups to connect with others in your community. 

Twitter: With only 280 characters, make sure to be clear and concise with your messaging. Use hashtags and tag people in your posts. 

LinkedIn: Utilise your professional network and ask them to spread the word about your project.

TikTok: Taking social media by storm, TikTok’s video content can help you tell your story in a fun and vibrant way. 

Looking for more guidance on your crowdfunding project? Head over to the Knowledge Hub

Telling your story

When someone lands on your project page, you need to make a connection quickly and get them excited about your plans. 

Make the most of the opportunity to connect with new supporters with a well-written story that is engaging, structured and concise. You don’t want to end up with a massively long project page, but you also need to ensure you’re providing enough detail to capture your audience’s attention. It’s a balancing act! Alongside the written text, pictures can also help to add colour and personality to your story.

While this task doesn’t require a professional writer, this could be a good opportunity to get a little help from a friend if you’re not confident in this area. 

Key points

Before getting stuck into writing the story for your project page, it’s a good idea to spend a little planning and making notes about what you want to include. To get started, have a go at jotting down a short but specific answer for each of these key questions:

  1. What exactly are you trying to do?
  2. How are you going to do it? 
  3. Why does your project matter? 
  4. What impact are you hoping to have?
  5. What makes your project unique?
  6. What are your motivations for doing this project?
  7. When did you start working on your project?
  8. What milestones have you achieved already? 
  9. What have you learned along the way?
  10. What will the money raised be spent on?

Bonus question, if relevant: What are the rewards on offer? 

These key points make up the foundation of your story, so make sure that you cover each of them on your project page. You could even tick each one off as you go. Next we’ll look at how to structure your story. 

Structure

Just like an article in a newspaper, the story on your project page should aim to hook the reader from the very first line. This kind of “inverted pyramid” structure has been around for centuries in journalism. You’ll probably be very familiar with the way a newspaper uses a shocking headline to make a splash, then summarises the key facts of the story before going into detail further down the page. 

It’s pretty common these days for us to just read the first few paragraphs before making our next click, so you’ll now find that most stories online follow this structure. To make sure potential supporters read the most important parts of your story, we’re going to use this structure too. It should look something like this: 

  • Start with an attention-grabbing headline to engage the reader
  • Outline the key points of your project
  • Dive into the detail and tell the full story
  • Add some testimonials to back you up and add credibility
  • Finish with FAQs that people might have about your project, organisation or crowdfund

Top tips

Organising your story into short sections will make your project page much easier to read. Use headings to break it up and direct your supporters to where they can find the information they’re looking for. You can also use bullet points for lists, along with the bold tool to highlight key points. 

When it comes to connecting with people on your page, visuals play a big part too. Add lots of photos, as well as any other images that help to make your project shine. These might include reward images, infographics, maps, design sketches and team photos

Your Crowdfunder project page should be a jargon-free zone. Stick to using simple language that everyone can understand. Try to avoid using the same words again and again. If you’re really stuck , try an online thesaurus for suggestions of similar options. 

Be specific when describing your project and your journey to make it happen. Let’s looks at these two examples;

“The local football club has been rubbish for many years”

“Pemburton Football Club hasn’t won a game since 2001”

While they both tell the same story, most people would find the second version much more interesting because of the additional details. It’s not a longer sentence, just a more specific one. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to be brutal when reviewing and editing your story. Cut out all the “fluff” to ensure your project page remains short and sweet. It’s often a good idea to ask a couple of friends to proofread it and give feedback too.

Looking for more guidance on your crowdfunding project? Head over to the Knowledge Hub

Finding your crowd

Where do pledges come from? It starts with the people around you. 

Crowdfunding is all about connecting with people. As it takes place online, it can be easy to forget that behind each pledge is a real person. In this piece we’re going to look at how to find your crowd of supporters for your crowdfunding project.  

To make your project a success, you’ll need to engage with a wide and varied network of people. This might sound like a big undertaking, but we can break it down into manageable tasks. To get started, you’ll need to identify your crowd, their motivations and how you’ll connect with them. 

Why people support projects

Your crowd is made up of people who support what your project is trying to achieve. They may have different motivations for supporting your project, but they all want to see your project succeed. Let’s look at the three key reasons why people support crowdfunding projects:

  • You have a close relationship, so they want to support you personally
  • They believe in your aims and think it’s a worthwhile project
  • They want to get their hands on one of your rewards

These three groups should be the starting point when mapping out your network. While people can fit into two or even all three groups, we’ll keep things simple and look at each one in turn. You might want to draw this out as a mindmap on a big piece of paper,  jot it down as a list, or even make a detailed spreadsheet – whatever works for you. 

Personal support

These are all the people that are likely to support your crowdfunding project just because you are the one doing it. This group of people will look a little different for everyone, but here are some examples that commonly feature. 

  • Partners, husbands and wives
  • Friends
  • Parents and grandparents
  • Siblings and their partners
  • Colleagues and managers

There might also be subcategories within some of these groups that you can list. For example, within your list of friends, you could include school friends, university friends, friends from a sports club or group you’re involved with. Once you’ve listed as many different pockets of people as you can, make sure you take the time to go through and jot down individual names. This will probably take a little while, but it’ll be worth the effort later. 

The believers

This next group is really important to spend some time mapping out. If you can harness the support of people who believe your project is worthwhile, you’ll be well on your way to success. The shape and nature of people that fit into this group will vary depending on the focus of your project. Let’s look at an example to show this. 

Haircuts4Homeless is a registered charity building a community of hairdresser volunteers who give their time free of charge to provide haircuts for people suffering from homelessness in the UK.  They were crowdfunding to print a photo book documenting their work over the last two years. If we were to map out the pockets of people that could be motivated to support this project, because they believe it’s worthwhile, it might look something like this:

  • People who have experienced homelessness
  • Friends and family of people who have experienced homelessness
  • People who are passionate about the issue of homelessness in the UK
  • Hairdressers who have been involved with the project
  • Friends and family of hairdressers who have been involved with the project
  • Hairdressers who relate to and admire the project
  • Other volunteers and staff
  • People who follow Haircuts4Homeless on social media
  • People who live near to a Haircuts4Homeless location
  • Fans of Jack Eames’ photography work
  • Collectors of unique photo books

The list could go on and on! As you can see here, each of these groups has something that connects them to the project in question. It could be a passion, interest or just physical location. Make sure you list out every little cluster of people that you can think of for your own project. 

Motivated by rewards

For most crowdfunding projects, their rewards are closely linked to what they’re aiming to achieve. As we haven’t looked at rewards in too much detail yet, you might decide to come back to mapping out this part of your crowd later. In the meantime, take a look at 55 reward ideas to get a good sense of what makes an attractive reward. 

If you’ve already pinned down the rewards you’re going to offer, the next bit is easy. Go through each reward in turn, listing out any additional groups of people that might be interested in pledging on it. 

Your crowd

By now, you should have lots and lots of people on your list. This is the basis of your crowd! Remember, your crowd is always growing, so add additional people on as you go forward. 

If you’d like to take this exercise even further, you can start to highlight any key people whose support could be really critical to your project. This might be someone who is well-respected in your community, a team captain or coach, the boss at work, or anyone else who has clout or influence. These are the people whose support is likely to unlock support from others. 

There you have it – your crowd!

Looking for more guidance on your crowdfunding project? Head over to the Knowledge Hub

It takes passion to bring natural beauty back to Loch Ness

Through the Aviva Community Fund, The Boleskine House Foundation raised over £22,000 to re-establish Loch Ness’s historic wildflower meadows to support pollinators and boost carbon capture. 

Colourful wildflower meadows were once a very common sight across Britain’s countryside. But experts say that we’ve lost 97% of the nation’s meadows since the 1930s, leaving many native plant species and the biodiversity they support in peril. It’s one of the big reasons populations of vital pollinators such as bees have seen such a dramatic decline.

Spurred on by this worrying trend, The Boleskine House Foundation is dedicated to restoring five acres of their land to its former glory. By cultivating a new wildflower meadow on land that looks out across the shores of Loch Ness, they’ll bring a rich burst of colour and life back to the landscape.

Funds will be used to sow hundreds of thousands of native Scottish wildflower seeds, as well as investing in machinery and tools to both maintain the meadow and gather clippings that enable wildflowers to be sown in new locations.

The Foundation is also building pathways and benches through the meadow so that visitors will be able to experience the meadow and enjoy the breath-taking views without causing harm to bees, bugs and the flowers themselves. 

“We are passionate about conserving our built heritage and preserving and enhancing our natural environment” says Foundation Chair Keith Readdy. “One of the largest things the community wanted was to preserve the environment around us. We want to make the largest wildflower meadow around Loch Ness. It’s going to lower our carbon footprint, but also help facilitate biodiversity.”

In addition to restoring vital ecosystems for bees, bugs and insects, the Grasslands Trust estimate that tree planting can store up to 1.4 tonnes of carbon per hectare and wildflower meadows up to three tonnes. Which makes wildflower meadows an excellent way to combat the climate emergency. 

It’s a project that’s already caught the imagination of the local community, who have pitched in with gusto. And Keith’s just as focused on spreading the word about the benefits of wildflower meadows beyond the Loch Ness area: “We want to educate visitors and tourists on how to create small meadows at home so that together we can reverse the decline.”

“We’re absolutely over the moon with the success we’ve been able to accomplish with Aviva from the donations we’ve received” says Keith. For the Loch Ness landscape, a brighter future is already on the horizon. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

To follow the progress of the wildflower meadow project, visit the Boleskine Foundation Facebook page. Sowing the seeds of something beautiful yourself? Apply to the Aviva Community Fund today.

It takes vision to see the hidden potential of seagrass

Did you know seagrass is one of our best defences against climate change? One of our inspiring climate-focused Aviva Community Fund causes, Project Seagrass knows this all too well.

So, to show our support we’ve given them a boost and helped them raise over £19,000 towards their exploration into seagrass restoration across the UK. 

For centuries, coastal seagrass meadows provided communities with livelihoods, food security and medicines. They produce oxygen, clean our coastal water, absorb CO2 and help to keep our ocean healthy which stabilises the climate —both global and local. Not to mention, seagrass provides habitat and feeding grounds for thousands of species of fish, invertebrates, birds, reptiles and mammals.

The forgotten hero of carbon sequestration, you may be shocked to learn despite covering only 0.1% of the seafloor, seagrass is responsible for more than 10% of the organic carbon buried in the ocean. Which makes this next stat even more shocking: we have lost 35% of our seagrass globally since 1980. In the UK, we have lost at least 50% and as much as 92% in the last century.

That’s where Project Seagrass come in. Their mission is to replant and restore large areas of seagrass meadows that have been lost or damaged. This is done through collecting, processing and replanting seeds in viable areas, using a large-scale seagrass nursery to cultivate and harvest the seeds.

The Aviva funding is being used to grow and develop the seagrass nursery, running trials to refine the team’s approach to seagrass restoration. As seagrass aquarist, Elise de Tourtoulon-Adams, explains, “the nursery is allowing us to upscale and hopefully we can grow, cultivate and harvest seagrass seeds that are then used in our restoration projects.”

“This seagrass nursery is the first of its kind in the UK. A successful and productive nursery would allow us to cultivate and harvest seeds for our restoration projects on a much larger scale. The development and management of a nursery would allow the genetic diversity of seeds to be carefully planned and monitored, would significantly reduce the cost of seed collection, and would reduce the health and safety risks of current collection techniques. All of this will help Project Seagrass to reach the ambitious goal of restoring 2,500 hectares of UK by 2050.”

It’s an ambition the community in and around Laugharne Wales are very invested in, with local schools and charity groups visiting the project to learn and lend a hand.

With Aviva funding, Elise is optimistic about the potential the Seagrass Project has to make a huge impact on how we address climate change. “I get so excited for every single step that we make. This is an opportunity to create a blueprint for UK seagrass restoration to ensure future efforts are even more successful. Without investments like this, seagrass restoration at scale would not be possible.”

“Together we make things happen and we’re really proud of everything everyone does.” Elise’s words are a powerful reminder of the brighter future that’s possible. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

You can dive into the details of Project Seagrass’s progress on their website. And if you have a project of your own that’s helping to transform our planet for the better, apply for the Aviva Community Fund today.

It takes positive thinking to build a carbon negative community hall

Tulse Hill’s Straw Bale Build is a unique community centre, self-built by local residents and volunteers using a range of innovative green building techniques.

What started life as a plan for a new hall for Tulse Hill’s Holy Trinity Church evolved into something much more forward-thinking and community-centric when the team began to explore the idea of building with straw bales.

Says vicar, Richard Dormandy, “Our focus became much more on it being a hall for the community with hands-on ownership. We realised that this could be a project that was really inclusive – we’ve had children from primary school to community payback. We’ve had people in their 80s teaching people in their teens.”

In fact, over 500 people have put their hearts into this hugely ambitious project since the Tulse Hill team got the ball rolling five years ago. The idea was to actively combat climate change by creating a community hub that was not just carbon neutral, but carbon negative. That means using materials and techniques that store up CO2 rather than releasing it by choosing, among other things, sustainably forested timber for the building frame and straw-bales for the walls.  

Agricultural straw is used to make compressed bales – surprisingly both extremely strong and fire-resistant – which are plastered using clay dug from the project’s own foundations, and rendered on the outside with lime – a carbon-neutral product. And that’s just the start – solar panelled roofing will power the centre and church, while tyres saved from landfill provide an incredibly strong and stable building foundation. 

As the project nears completion, the Aviva funding will help towards the cost of the building’s heating, cooling and ventilation system, which uses an innovative Air Source Heat Pump to generate energy from shifts in air temperature.  

Once complete, the straw build centre is expected to be enjoyed by around 4,000 people a year. But what’s more, as Europe’s largest urban straw construction, it’s helping to change the way people think about construction in the light of climate change. Together, we can make a brighter future happen. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

You can keep up with the progress of the Tulse Hill Straw Bale Build on Facebook. And if you’ve got a project that’s building something special, apply for the Aviva Community Fund today.

It takes channelling children’s eco-ambitions

The Final Straw Foundation helps educate and inspire our next generation of climate champions through their network of Youth Eco Clubs.

These hugely popular clubs run fun and innovative activities to make children aware of the issues facing our planet, and ways that we can combat them. From planting and pollinators to upcycling and composting, the children learn many different ways we can all help our environment and wildlife.

Director of Operations Lizzie Pollard says, We wanted to engage the younger generation to really think about the environment in their day-to-day lives, and give them ideas of what they could do on a personal level to help tackle the climate crisis.”

With a focus on education, the clubs also encourage kids to think of their own ideas to help their local environment – like what they can plant in their gardens and what changes they can make at home to help combat climate change.

“The things we do are not sit-down, paperwork activities – they’re real get-your-hands-dirty, get-in-there stuff,” explains the charity’s CEO and Founder, Bianca Carr. “The kids are really keen and they’ve been carrying on lots of the work at home.”

And it’s clear the message is hitting home, as nine-year-old Billy – an enthusiastic Eco Club participant – confirms: “We can’t just stand and watch what’s happening to our environment. We need to try and help our animals – and Eco Club has inspired me to do that.”

With the help of Aviva funding, The Final Straw Foundation can help educate and inspire even more children from all walks of life. Together, we can make a brighter future happen. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

Is your project creating change? Need support to make it happen?  Apply for the Aviva Community Fund today. 

You can follow The Final Straw Foundation to learn about their work on Facebook – or take a look at their website.

It takes fighting the rising tide of ocean plastic

[email protected] raised £5,000 to develop machines that will recycle ocean plastic picked up from local beaches and give it a second life.

Their Plastic Lab is developing machinery prototypes to make fence posts from waste plastic with the help of the Aviva Community Fund.

[email protected] cofounder Dr Joan D’Arcy says, “It’s important to give ocean plastic a second life because if we don’t recycle it, it ends up in landfill. We’re keeping what other people have thought of as waste and basically putting it back into circulation. When we recycle ocean plastic into a clock or a fence post, it’s something that’s going to be around for many, many more years.

As co-founder Julien Moreau explained, the intention of the project is to create value from waste. The organisation picks up between five and 10 tons of plastic waste from local beaches each year – and could pick up even more with additional helpers. Instead of just sending the waste plastic to landfill, for every fence post they make, the Plastic Lab could recycle around 16kg of ocean plastic. 

On top of reducing plastic pollution, products made from recycled plastic generally create up to 82% less carbon emissions than those made with virgin plastic. And [email protected] has a good market for the fence posts on their doorstep due to the farming community they are part of – keeping the carbon footprint even lower.

Importantly, by clearing plastic from local beaches, the team are also helping to prevent danger and death to wildlife and are playing a part in helping to prevent tiny plastic particles entering the food chain. So, with the help of Aviva’s funding, [email protected] can achieve more of their environmental aims. Together, we can make a brighter future happen. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

Have you got a smart thinking project that needs support?  Apply for the Aviva Community Fund today. 

You can follow [email protected] to learn about their work on Facebook or take a look at their website.

It takes fighting ecological collapse, one bee at a time

Pollenize raised over £8,000 to fund an artificial intelligence beehive project that has the potential to save Britain’s native bees.

These Artificial Intelligence (AI) beehives are the beginning of a pioneering research and conservation plan to understand how factors like weather and climate impact bee behaviour and populations. 

Pollenize co-founder, Matthew Elmes says: “The waggle dance is how one bee communicates to another bee where the best flowers are. It’s a bit like a bee GPS system. We’re working on decoding this dance to work out where the bees are going in real time.”

By kitting out beehives with cameras, accelerometers and other sensors that feed into a machine-learning computer, Pollenize will build up a picture of how bees respond to changes to their environmental conditions. Alongside genetic analysis of the pollen collected, this will help Pollenize better understand the foraging behaviour of our native honey bees  and inform climate-resilient planting. This strategy will protect and boost populations of bees and other wild pollinators for years to come.

Of particular focus for Pollenize is encouraging the UK’s native dark honey bees – a population that has seen steep decline over the course of the 20th century. “Traditionally, beekeepers have imported bees from around Europe and this has caused hybridisation amongst populations,” says Matthew. “The native honey bee is adapted to this local climate, therefore it’s the best one to use.”

With the help of Aviva funding, Pollenize will be able to equip two of their reserves with the AI technology and further boost the numbers of Britain’s humble bee.

With the help of Aviva funding, Pollenize will be able to equip two of their reserves with the AI technology and further boost the numbers of Britain’s humble bee. Together, we can make a brighter future happen. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

Would your project benefit from funding or support with how to generate a local buzz? Apply for the Aviva Community Fund today. Follow Pollenize Cornwall to learn about their work on FacebookTwitterInstagram.