Crowdfunding 18k with no experience part 6: Launch it and make everyone y’all know cry

This is the final instalment in a series on crowdfunding by guest writer Justina Grayman PhD. Thanks so much Justina for sharing your wisdom over the last six weeks. Your insights into psychology, creativity, and marketing are solid gold. The photo at the top of this post was shot by Teyvon Bussey on the set of Black Man In America. Over to Justina for the launch.

1. I made a contact list. I brainstormed all of the people I regularly speak to or who support me generally. I made lists of: friends, family, people from college, people from work, people from high school, etc. In this document, create a place to mark whether they have been contacted, whether they responded, whether you’ve followed up with them, etc. 

2. I crafted engaging personal messages for different platforms. I reached out to my network via text, e-mail, Facebook message, annnd – that’s it. It was mostly via Facebook message that people gave. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of people’s phone numbers / I am an introvert so I don’t have people’s contact info like that. Facebook saved my life! Messaging is really important, like really important, but I say that as a PhD that is really interested in organizing, persuasion, etc. (I did my dissertation on communication used by organizers to get people to events). For example, I would never recommend to send a Facebook message to someone and ask them to pledge on your first message. It is also extremely important that you explain briefly why this cause is urgent or important (for example, you’re gonna lose all of the money in 2 days if you don’t get the remainder of the money). Lastly and, of course, if you’ve taken nothing away from this – you need to write something that will make them cry (i.e., be vulnerable! be honest!) Some notes: Messages must be personal. Personal means that it is a message that was directly sent to a friend WITH their name and some detail specific and genuine to them. I highly discourage anyone from sending group messages – for example, an email where people are cc’d or bcc’d because it’s lazy and people will ignore the email if they think it was sent to a group. Click here to download all the messages we used to contact people by e-mail, text, and Facebook, along with all of my other crowdfunding materials! 

3. I confirmed my “day 1” donors. That’s a lie. I actually didn’t do this and it was a huge mistake. I actually ran one other campaign last year (for $4K) and DID do this and it worked great. I recommend ensuring you have at least 5-10 donors confirmed to donate on your launch day. You want this because on day 1, you will likely get the most visits to your campaign. You want the first impression to be: this campaign is going to be successful – because people tend to give to campaigns they think are going to be successful (stupid, right? yeah, but it’s good to know!).

4. I launched my project. Yeah, pressed “published” or whatever 🙂 The easiest part.

5. I personally contacted everyone I possibly knew once. I contacted everyone on my contact list made above.This is an important note: if you try to message your 1,896 followers in one day (which is probably impossible unless you have robotic thumbs or an AI slave) Facebook will block you for hours and possibly a day at a time. So you will have to take breaks from Facebook messaging. So ration your Facebook messaging from launch day through the first week.

6. I personally followed up with those who didn’t respond after two weeks. This is so so so critical. People ask me to give to stuff all the time and then never ask me again. The person being asked doesn’t have much of an incentive to remember to give money to you or to respond, even if they are the Dalai Lama. Anyhow, most of the people who I know that gave had to be followed up with. So do it! Follow up! You’re not being annoying! You’re not being annoying! Once people say no, thank them and then don’t message them, but it is okay to contact nonresponders.

7. I followed up with those who said they’d donate to confirm that they had. Follow up with people say that they will donate. If they haven’t messaged you a smiley face and said “I just donated! Good luck!” they might have forgotten like a normal human being. I marked all of the people who said they would donate and then followed up with them about a week later to thank them for choosing to donate and ask them if they had done so. The key is to couch it in gratitude!

8. I thanked people once they donated. Uh, yeah, did that privately, sometimes publicly.

9. I posted daily in the final five days on social media. In the final five days, I posted many many announcements on social media. It actually was pretty effective at getting people who knew about the campaign (and I had messaged them) but hadn’t given yet a gentle nudge. I messaged everyone who did not respond with a last chance reminder in the final two days. Self-explanatory, I think.

10. Rejoice; your vision will be manifested soon. p.s. I hate the word manifest but I love manifesting (what’s that about?). Once your project is fully funded, take a bath, watch Netflix, order pizza, and recover your broken and shattered immune system.

Get ready to bring to life a project that never would have happened had you waited for someone to give you the opportunity to make it.

Personally, we were ecstatic when we found out we were fully funded. We were fully funded two days before our deadline. After our actual deadline, I almost collapsed from exhaustion. No i didn’t, but I was exceptionally tired. But it was so worth it. Below, watch how excited we were when we finished our campaign.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this last six weeks of good stuff from Justina Grayman Phd. You can get the whole blog series on video here. If you want to share this with someone who is thinking about crowdfunding flick them this link directly to Justina’s website. Leave a comment below to let Justina know what works for you when you’re crowdfunding.