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Four lessons from successful fundraising campaigns

Let’s take a look at some real examples of creative tactics that have helped to make a crowdfunder or community share offer successful


Over the past five years we’ve provided creative support to fundraisers totalling millions of pounds. No two fundraising campaigns will ever play out the same – and the ones we’ve supported have varied in type, size, location and audience – but looking back we think there are interesting lessons to be learnt from all of them. 

Offer thoughtful rewards
Hyde Park Picture House

Anyone who’s been to the Hyde Park Picture House knows it’s a pretty special place. Currently undergoing a £2.4M refurbishment and restoration, it’ll soon be emerging with a second screen where a largely vacant basement used to sit, and they’ll have the space to expand their remit into more educational and engagement activity while still offering a first-class film programme.

Despite money secured from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Leeds City Council and other sources, the cinema needed to raise £50,000 in order to meet its total fundraising target and enable the project to deliver its full potential.

The cinema were keen to deliver a crowdfunding campaign that thanked and rewarded supporters in a meaningful way. One way they ensured this was to put a huge amount of effort into selecting rewards that would be valued by people for many years to come. The final list of rewards included a lamppost pin badge, high quality prints based on paint samples revealing the history of the auditorium’s decor, and handmade tiles from Sunken Studio that are based on the cinema’s façade tiling. A number of sponsorship opportunities relating to various parts of the cinema – such as the original gas light fittings – were also included.

The campaign was delivered in the run up to Christmas. While this can be a time for crowdfunding campaigns to avoid, the quality of the rewards lined up meant that in this case the festive build-up period was a great time time to launch due to the large amount of festive gifting it encouraged.

We created a supporting identity for the campaign, built around a traditional Christmas illustration style, and we built an effective and engaging donation mini-site for the campaign that tightly integrated with the Spektrix box office system the cinema uses day-to-day. This integration enabled the cinema to build a database of supporters they could communicate with about future donation opportunities.

The identity for the campaign was built around the style of traditional Christmas illustration

The Hyde Park Picture House fundraiser was a success – surpassing its target and raising over £58,000.

Put on events that engage
Leeds Community Homes

Leeds Community Homes was started after a bunch of likeminded people in Leeds – all involved in housing one way or another – decided to help set up a new organisation that would provide a model for a better way to do housing in the city. Not long after the group’s inception they targeted a community share offer totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds that would enable them to create 16 affordable homes and provide them with an income that would allow them to develop further plans in future.

They knew that plenty of people in Leeds believed in this sort of thing, but community led housing still felt quite new at the time and they needed to find ways to engage, not only with potential investors but also with potential word-spreaders and key decision-makers in the city. They hosted two events which proved really effective at doing this. 

Leeds Community Homes share offer launch. Video by Let’s Dance.

The first was a launch event held at Leeds Kirkgate market, which combined an engaging host with an explainer video, keynote speaker, panel Q&A and perhaps most importantly, delicious free food from a market-based street food stall. The event was well attended; we were there to capture the event including reactions videos from attendees which provided great source material for further videos.

The second event aimed for a wider audience, one Leeds Community Homes knew were likely to support the cause but without necessarily knowing it yet. A free screening of the Ken Loach classic, Cathy Come Home was put on at the Hyde Park Picture House and a short introduction to Leeds Community Homes’ plans as well as a panel Q&A took place, connecting the issues raised in the film to the present day reality and explaining how community led housing can help solve these issues.

The Leeds Community Homes share offer was a success, raising over £360,000

Keep your message clear

Yorspace are pioneers. More than just environmentally friendly, community-led housing, they’re proposing a radical new kind of home ownership that gives the stability and assurance of a mortgage without the problems of ever inflating costs that come with the free market.

The idea is actually quite simple – there’s a cooperative that owns the houses, and the residents make payments that allow them to accrue a stake in the cooperative. They can sell their stake on to someone else if they leave, just not at a profit.

However Yorspace were the first people in the UK to propose putting this model into practice, and there was a real danger of drifting into jargon and technical detail and losing sight of the simple belief underpinning the project. We knew that it was this emotional dimension that would be they key motivator for most investors.

We worked with Yorspace to develop their messaging and identified fairness as the theme most central to their plans: unaffordable housing isn’t fair; affordable housing is. We used this messaging extensively throughout the share offer campaign communications.

Of course, while this simple messaging was both a useful and effective engagement hook, there were situations where more detail was needed. We didn’t shy away from this, but to keep communication clear throughout we utilising simple diagrams that explained relationships and demystified processes.

The Yorspace share offer was a success, raising £422,000

Create video to being your ambitions to life
Kirkstall Valley Development Trust

Abbey Mills share offer launch. Video by Let’s Dance.

Kirkstall Valley Development Trust launched a crowdfunding campaign that aimed to kickstart an ambitious bid to take over Abbey Mills and repurpose it for community use.

Though the mill is geographically at the heart of the local area, its dilapidation means it’s off the beaten trail for most people.

A quick video assembled quickly and on a small budget captured local people being taken on a tour of the building and not only showed a wider audience of the building’s potential but also captured the reaction of those seeing the building for the first time.

The KVDT crowdfunder was a success, raising a total of £47,400