How I crowdfunded the amount to attend HPAIR by Harvard University

My name is Vedang R. Vatsa and I am a student at the dept. of Industrial and Management Engineering, IIT Kanpur.

It started with a post by Nikhil Jain who inspired me to start a crowdfunding campaign. I went through the mechanism that he followed and finally made a plan on how I would like to go forward with collecting the funds required, to attend the HPAIR conference by Harvard University.

I did a quick research of different crowdfunding platforms available on the internet but none of the available ones gave me the satisfaction to go forward with it.

I gave quite a thought about starting it on Facebook but in the end, dropped the idea of using it as the primary platform for this purpose. Reason: A comparatively less professional network but a more fun-loving casual network of people, the content comprising of a lot of memes and political discussions (including hate speech) in often, not a very professional dialect. Though there were some communities that I kept in mind, I’ll come to it later.

I have always been serious about my connections on LinkedIn and it was worth investing my time on it when I finally decided to write a post on LinkedIn.

I recalled an online copywriting course that strictly dictated to go forward with a simple post with less number of words (because why would somebody be interested in investing their time in reading a long and boring post?). I spend quite a lot of time in framing just the right content with the right set of words that displays my competitiveness, abilities, past performances and a call to action in the end.

After I completed posting the content, the next challenge was to get the post reach the right set of audiences. I did a small brainstorming session with some of my friends and finally decided to ask people to like the post by personally messaging them. A post being liked by one person shall be displayed to his/her connections and may start a chain effect. In order to make sure that a stranger may not skip reading the post, it was important to include a catchy heading at the beginning or something that will not make them skip the post. I chose LinkedIn as my primary focus of the campaign, though I went forward with some specific communities on facebook as well. Word of caution: If you are going to choose facebook, make sure that you don’t chose any community where the post may become a subejct of ‘meme’ or joke, in any context. Try to stay away from negative people and avoid engaging with them on any argument – not on comment section, not even on personal messages.

It worked!

As soon as 30 mins after starting the campaign, the funds started to come in. I started recording the virality of the post.

Below are some of the data figures:
12th July
3PM – Start
03:17PM – 1000 views
03:22PM – 1130 views
03:30PM – 1200 views
03:41PM – 1300 views
03:49PM – 1400 views
03:58PM – 1500 views
04:08PM – 1628 views
04:23PM – 1800 views
04:33PM – 1900 views
04:42PM – 2050 views
04:51PM – 2177 views
05:00PM – 2315 views
06:00PM – 3000 views
07:19PM – 3650 views
08:05PM – 4000 views
10:17PM – 5000 views

13th July
02:30AM – 6000 views (Around 13 hours since start)
10:30AM – 7000 views

14th July
11300 views

15th July
15000 views

16th July
16700 views

17th July
19055 views

Based on my experience of crowdfunding, I would like to offer the following suggestions –
1. If you are an active social media user, capitalize on your social media presence and post a kickass campaign attaching all the relevant proofs. A good social media reputation will help in this case.
2. Reach out your institute’s Alumni network. Start with your immediate seniors and ask them to circulate the post among their alumni network.
3. DO NOT forget to thank all the donors. Try to maintain a platform where you may provide them with the latest updates about the event.
4. Ask your friends to share your post so that you may leverage their social media contacts as well. In the case of LinkedIn, a ‘like’ may also help in spreading the influence of a post.

If you need any suggestions or any help in planning your crowdfunding campaign, feel free to contact me.

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