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Crowdfunding Guide

Part 5 Journalism Crowdfunding Checklist


  • Develop a project idea rooted in your community’s needs. Start early with local stakeholders, use this R&D time as a chance to build allies and get buy-in from people and groups with a potential interest in your project. They will help you expand your reach later.
  • Build your outreach list. Clean your contact list to make sure it is up-to-date, and segment it into a few simple categories to better target your outreach — for example, big donors, small donors, influencers, and partner organizations.
  • Draft your case statement and project description.
  • Write your video script and film your pitch.
  • Test your project description and video with potential audiences before finalizing them.
  • Try to line up support in advance. Get a few commitments, especially for a few bigger gifts, if possible, and have those people ready for strategic moments in the campaign — for example, to give a big boost at launch or come in at the end to get you over the finish line.
  • Create creative and cost-effective rewards.
  • Pick big sponsors and supporters for potential matching grant opportunities or other challenge grants based on dollars raised or number of contributors.
  • Choose your platform — for example, Beacon, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and Patreon.


  • Flood the zone at launch. Get messages out on every channel possible and encourage sharing within your network.
  • Get early gifts to show momentum and enthusiasm.
  • Find an interesting angle in your project or rewards that might get press attention and create buzz.
  • Use cascading emails that build on each other to give people a full picture of your project in the first week.
  • Be available to answer questions from potential donors and engage with early supporters.
  • Line up external validators who can talk about your work and give the project a shout-out in specific targeted communities and sectors.


  • Crowdfunding campaigns tend to have peaks of activity at the very beginning and very end and two weeks of slow time in the middle. It is important to keep momentum up during the middle time because it will set you up for success later.
  • Use the middle part of your campaign to reach out quietly behind the scenes to encourage people to give. This is a great time to make phone calls and line up support.
  • Introduce new rewards. New giving levels and rewards provide a reason to keep talking about the campaign and can add excitement to a slower part of the campaign.
  • Celebrate milestones. Create artificial goals and get your early donors to help you reach them. Focus on dollars raised or number of people giving.
  • Announce a matching grant. You can add buzz and encourage giving in mid-campaign by introducing a new matching or challenge grant from a sponsor.

Finish Strong

  • People love deadlines. Prepare to go all in during the last week of your campaign.
  • Don’t worry too much about sending too many messages. Your followers and fans will understand that this is a short-term push for a big goal.
  • Focus on closing deals with people you’ve been cultivating during the entire month.
  • Consider a modal pop-up on your website if you haven’t yet. It can really help convert people to donors.
  • Consider targeted Facebook ads.
  • Keep making calls to potential donors.
  • Give people a taste of what success looks like — for example, point to your best reporting or release a podcast episode. Plan to show people how their donations will help you create more great journalism.

It’s Not Over

  • Even when the campaign is over, it is not really over.
  • Be sure to thank your donors soon after the campaign ends. Use all your channels (platform, social, email, website) to thank people and share the good news.
  • Be sure you and your crowdfunding platform are ready for disbursing the funds.
  • Begin planning how to fulfill your rewards to donors.
  • Set a reminder for following up with your donors as you begin to create the journalism they helped fund.
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