This post will be actually geared toward ensemble directors as well as student/member participants of any current or upcoming FansRaise campaign. All are welcome, of course, but we wanted to provide some additional detail around member contact lists, how we use them, and what seems to be working best in the world of high school band fundraisers.
What are Contact Lists?
Contact lists are created by student/member participants within our campaigns. These lists are comprised of name and email information for potential donors. As a general best practice, we ask all participants to enter in a list of 20. Why 20? Well, aside from being a nice round number, it also seems to be the average number of people that the average person would know on a fairly personal basis.
If crowdfunding is a numbers game, then more contacts means better success, right?
Possibly, but we are seeing that members with the largest and most extensive contact lists are not necessarily seeing the best results.
Let's take 2 members from the same marching band and examine how they approach their campaigns differently. Bob and Amber are both members of the same high school marching band, and their band director recently set up a marching band fundraising campaign with FansRaise...
BOB - As a go-getter and highly motivated member, he is determined to be at the top of every leaderboard. Bob is entered into a FansRaise by his band director, and immediately sets to work. He grabs every single list he and his parents have access to - soccer league rosters, 5 years of elementary classroom lists (he's a Junior, by the way!), his younger brother's Boy Scout troop list, etc.
Bob ends up with 80 contacts. 20 of them are close-personal friends and family, and the 60 really don't know Bob, don't rember Bob, and aren't even aware of his marching band participation and passions.
Satisfied that he's crushed the goal, he uploads his contacts and waits for the campaign to launch, happy that he was the first member to such a high number.
AMBER - Amber is an incoming 8th grader, and is excited about joining the high school marching band. With her parents help, they grab the Christmas card list, the neighborhood association member list, and sketch a short list of the 20 people that they feel are the most likely to particiate in the campaign with a donation.
Amber enters in those 20 contacts, and in following through with the suggested campaign best practices (and you can download those here), drops them each a quick note (via text, Facebook message, or even personal email) to expect an email about a special online event my marching band is planning in the next week or so.
Here's the thing that will probably surprise you. Over the long term, Amber's list will probably perform better, despite the fact that it's 1/4 the size of Bob's!
Here's Why 'Less IS More'
To be blunt, Bob wasted a lot of his time - not to mention the time of all of those unconnected people he bothered with an email. Most of those folks wouldn't be able to pick Bob out of a lineup.
Also, all of those emails sent to strangers without much attachment to Bob or the band program will result in mass unsubscribe-clicks as well as SPAM listings. Neither of these are good from our perspective.
Amber, on the other hand, took the time to be purposeful with her selections, PLUS she contacted those potential donors on a 1-to-1 basis ahead of time to prep them for the launch email.
Think about it this way - let's pretend you are having lunch in a small, crowded restaurant with approximately 80 other customers. You're seated across the table from a friend. You need a little bit of additional money to cover the check.
Option 1: You lean across the table and ask for a little bit of help with you half of the bill. Your friend obliges, because (a) we've all been in similar situations and (b) he or she is your friend and 'has your back'.
Option 2: You stand up and (in a loud and shouting voice) ask all of the customers for help with the bill. In addition to embarassing yourself (and your friend seated across from you), you're probably not likely to receive a positive response. More likely, you get awkward silence.
This is exactly why we've made email the centerpiece of a FansRaise campaign, and why your contact list is so important. If the contact doesn't know you, care about you or your organization, or is just simply unaware - not much will happen.
The Moral of the Story
While uploading your entire faculty directory, or CCing the entire school directory may seem like a great idea - please don't do that. Pay attention to the details, because they do matter.
The best way we can recommend to make your performing ensemble or high school band fundraiser successful is to think about these details.