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How to Handle a Failed Crowdfunding Campaign

Every entrepreneur knows that crowdfunding can be an effective financing campaign for a startup company. However, many crowdfunding campaigns are not lucrative, and many entrepreneurs don't know what to do when a crowdfunding campaign falls short of funding goals. As Rob Wu states, "It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’ve put yourself out there and things just don’t work out as you intend it to."

Rob Wu is the Co-Founder and CEO of CauseVox, which helps non-profit organisations realise their fundraising goals through crowdfunding.

Ugh. Let’s talk about failure

It’s a sad topic, but here’s the reality — not every crowdfunding campaign has a happy ending. Many crowdfunding campaigns fall short of their funding goals.

You’ve worked hard in setting up your site, rallying your friends and family, and pitching the press. It’s a tough pill to swallow when you’ve put yourself out there and things just don’t work out as you intend it to.

What do you do next? Here are three steps to take after you have failed.

Accept the failure

After missing your crowdfunding goal, you have to go through the five stages of grief. This otherwise known as the Kübler-Ross model.

  1. Denial

  2. Anger

  3. Bargaining

  4. Depression

  5. Acceptance

You may not experience these five stages linearly, but the goal is to come to accept the failure of your crowdfunding campaign. If you can explain failures as temporary, specific, and external, then you will persist even in the face of adversity.

It’s at this point where you can move into a growth mindset.

Identify what you did well

Now that you have accepted the failure, it’s time to embrace it fully. Gather your crowdfunding team together to perform a review. Some people call this a post mortem or after-action review.

Always start on the positive. Focus on what you and your team did well. Ask yourself:

  1. What strategies worked?

  2. What tactics paid off?

  3. Why did our donors contribute?

  4. What are you proud of?

The goal here is to move beyond the overall failure and to see what areas that you did well in so that those actions can be reinforced and encouraged for next time.

Determine what you did poorly

Next, figure out what didn’t go well. These are the potential areas that “broke” the campaign. Ask yourself:

  1. What did we spend too much time on?

  2. What did we focus too much on?

  3. What caused delays?

  4. What channels didn’t work?

  5. Did we have the right idea?

The goal here is to pinpoint the points of weakness so that you can grow and learn to run a crowdfunding campaign successfully next time.

Chart out a plan for next time

Take your learnings from what you did well as what you did poorly. Come up with a plan on what you would do differently next time, how you would focus your time, and how you could make your next crowdfunding campaign a success.

Failing does not equal being a failure. Failing gives you an opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve in the future. So pick yourself up because there’s no reason why you can’t reach your goals.

This blog post, originally appeared on CauseVox's blog and has been republished here.

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