Aboriginal HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) is a program that introduces learning and education into aboriginal homes early, creating an environment and dialogue that supports First Nations culture and heritage. HIPPY Canada is now raising funds to help sustain and grow their Aboriginal HIPPY program at various locations in Canada, in partnership with Vancouver Native Health.
Traditionally they receive government funding to run their programs; however since there have been cutbacks to the budget, they decided to try out crowdfunding as a way to raise money and also gain awareness for the program and continue empowering caregivers, families and communities. I spoke with HIPPY team member Sunny Shao about how they plan their campaign promotional strategy to build a community of support.
1. Why did you decide to start crowfunding?
“We were exploring ways to fundraise online and were also advised by our traditional funders to try out something new, so we turned to crowdfunding. We’ve held traditional fundraising galas and other events in the past, but we decided on crowdfunding as it also gave us an opportunity to increase our online presence and explore social media more.”
2. How did you promote your campaign and create a community of support?
“Internally all our staff and board members knew we were working on this campaign for a while now, so we turned to them first as soon as the campaign launched. We also engaged with some local Aboriginal artists and filmmakers to help us with the campaign video and perks, so they have helped us spread the word too.”
3. How did you plan your marketing messages for social media and why do you think it’s important?
“We had some messages planned but started some of the social media engagement a bit late (about a week after the campaign launched). Looking back, we should have planned these in advance of launching the campaign and also focused on a social media strategy beforehand, which would have given us an even better start right out of the gate.”
4. How have you integrated visual storytelling on your FundRazr campaign?
“We had an old video about the Aboriginal HIPPY program that we used as a large part of our campaign video, but it was a good exercise to create new segments and edit the video, as it has helped us clearly tell our story and what our fundraising ‘case for support’ is.”
5. Have you reached out to local media for exposure?
“We have not really done this yet, but plan on reaching out to local media and specific blogs and websites that have written about us in the past.”
6. What has been a challenge faced while crowdfunding so far?
“Since this was our first crowdfunding campaign, we have a lot of learnings as well as challenges. The main one was been building momentum through social media and getting our communications strategy together well before the campaign launch. We didn’t have a big presence before and are still working on building our online communities currently.”
7. What has been the highlight of your crowdfunding experience so far?
“Going through the whole experience of learning about crowdfunding, campaign planning, brainstorming, and working together with various different teams has been the highlight in itself. Although we were very focused on our goal, we’ve learned that it’s the journey that’s important and not always the destination!”
8. Do you have any advice for others who want to start crowdfunding?
“Go into your first campaign with an open mind and be prepared to change things and adapt along the way, such as rewards, campaign story, etc. Also ensure you have enough preparation time to build your social media strategy and brand ahead of the campaign launch.
Crowdfunding is more work than most people think, and requires multidisciplinary skills so it’s important to form a strong team and divide general responsibilities well before you start campaign planning.”