In January 2016, a team of student fundraisers at Rochester Institute of Technology launched their first crowdfunding campaign. They set out to raise $6,000 to design and launch a rocket for an intercollegiate competition. In the end, they blew past their goal, thanks to the high volume of support they received from their personal networks.
Their USEED Crowdfunding Advisor, Paul, also donated to the campaign. Paul contributed to it early on and enjoyed watching the campaign exceed the team's expectations as it progressed.
In the end, they raised $7,800. What a win! With the funding in place, it was time for the team to implement their initiative. Off they went, and Paul continued training other teams to effectively launch their own crowdfunding campaigns.
Fast-forward one year. It's January 2017, and Paul (along with the rest of their donors) receives a letter from the team. The letter outlines what happened after the crowdfunding campaign. It highlights that the work doesn't end when the campaign does. It also showcases how vulnerability (and even "failure") can enrich the relationship between fundraiser and donor.
In the spirit of vulnerability, that last line gave me chills.
For several reasons, this letter is an incredible example of donor stewardship. It's real. It's honest. It shows vision and heart. It tells an incredible story and sees it through from beginning to end. This team of passionate students experienced a challenge, had to make a hard decision, learned from it, and will still follow through with their initiative. And as a bonus, they added a tangible item of gratitude (the mission patch).
And, as Paul, one of RIT Launch Initiative's 54 donors, put it:
Receiving this letter made my day. Even though this team has experienced some obstacles, their passion continues to shine through. I could not be more proud to have supported this team, and I would not hesitate to do so again.
So, whether you are about to launch a crowdfunding campaign or have already completed one, take notes. This is how you keep a donor engaged and involved. Don't let your relationship end with your donors end when your campaign ends. Continue to reach out to your donors. Cultivate your community. Be bold.
And finally, a sincere congratulations to this team of all-stars. Great job, team RIT Launch Initiative! We are so proud and excited for your journey this April!