While execs for the big platforms would never say there’s a guaranteed road to crowdfunding success, most would probably agree there are patterns to success that show you can at least get yourself into the car and onto the freeway en route to your goal.
I’ve been chatting with a few of these folks lately, and one of the interesting things I’ve heard from more than one is that the data shows a fundraiser’s own community is absolutely critical to a campaign, at least up to a point.
And what point is that, you ask? That’d be the 30% point.
Let me explain. Anyone who has watched the recent success of Matthew Inman or Seth Godin have witnessed the power of those with super-communities. But the thing is, while Inman and Godin are crowdfunding extreme cases that easily illustrate the power of community - in part because their fan base is large enough to catapult them close to if not past their funding targets - most of those running crowdfunding campaigns are not so lucky.
And that’s where the 30% rule applies. Because, if you are not Mathew Inman or Seth Godin, chances are you are going to have to at least convince a good number of strangers who don’t know you from Adam to pull out the credit card and, let’s be honest, that’s a really hard thing to do. I know I don’t usually contribute money to complete strangers, especially ones that really haven’t shown anyone else wants to support them.
But the data has shown that those strangers will eventually come, and they usually show up when a campaign hits 30% of its target funding threshold. In other words, it’s at 30% of target when campaigns generally move beyond the their immediate circle of influence, or community, to those who don’t know them or who weren’t originally part of their community to finder broader funding support.
So what makes the 30% number a magic threshold? A couple thoughts:
- Validation. It’s like the Twitter user with no followers - you’re likely to immediately think scammer or spammer, and its probably doubly so when you’re asked to put your money down.
- No one likes to be first on the dance floor. It usually takes a few brave souls to shake their moneymakers before you can fill up the dance floor, and crowdfunding is no different. Most people don’t like to be first, and nearly everyone feels comfortable once others start.
- The network effect. At it’s core, a crowdfund campaign is a social fundraising effort, and as with any social network driven effort the network usually will take effect. Your community likely will have influencers and evangelists who bring other people in.
- It’s working, which means its working. If you’ve gotten to 30%, it probably means some of the other ingredients that have proven to work (such as a well-done video, constant communication/community gardening, and of course a good idea) are also part of the campaign.
So is the 30% rule an absolute law of crowdfunding? I’m not so sure about that, as I’m sure that there’s some variability across campaign types and genres, but in talking to a few platforms that have hit critical mass with tens of thousands of campaigns or more, the rule of 30% seems to be hold true.