1. Project creation

2. Validation and launch

3. Funding campaign

4. Repayment

Foreword

Although crowdfunding fosters mutual help and sharing, it is built on responsibility, trust, and transparency. On crowdfunding platforms, one project out of two reaches its funding goal. Projects rarely fail for random reasons or because people lack generosity, and it does not necessarily means those projects are not legitimate.

Many failures are explained by a misunderstanding of how crowdfunding works, and this short guide is meant to help you manage a successful funding campaign.

Crafting a good presentation for your project is important, and you will find below some advice on how to achieve that. But this is only the beginning: once your campaign is launched, its success will depend on your communication around the project.

A successful fundraising campaign on hellomerci requires some effort. But take in consideration that you will raise much more than money; your campaign showcases the usefulness and reliability of your project. Moreover, it will consolidate a network that will provide support throughout your development: the community of people who care.

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Editing your project page

You are going to publicly exhibit your project by answering simple questions. Put yourself in other people's shoes: provide information that will allow them to understand who you are, what you plan to do, and how you are going to reimburse them.

However, you should keep in mind that your readers only have a limited amount of time to spend and will not be able to go into the details of a projected balance sheet. To get an idea of users' expectations, inspire yourself from the platform's successful projects.

Project page overview

You can see on the right an overview of the layout of a project page on. To create yours, you will first have to set a funding goal, then answer a few questions to describe your project, and convince potential lenders to back you.

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Setting your loan amount

Before setting your goal, remember that projects follow an all or nothing rule: if you reach your goal, you will receive the loan as expected. In case the goal is not reached, lenders are automatically reimbursed at no charge. No action is required on your side and no fee is due.

The key to your campaign is therefore to set an appropriate funding goal.

You can borrow from €200 to €10,000, and repayment can be spread over a period of 1 to 36 months. You are in control of every financial parameter. To set your funding goal, list and estimate the various expenses related to your project. Be specific, transparent and above all, stop at what you need.

It is necessary to estimate the amount you think you can gather from your nearest and dearest. On hellomerci, you should expect the majority of your loans to come from your first circle.

Given an average contribution of €150, you can calculate the approximate number of lenders that you will have to mobilize.

Take time to think things through, determine cautiously your funding goal; once your project is online, you will not be able to modify the loan amount or the campaign duration.

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Choosing your campaign duration

During your campaign, you will have to develop a community around your project. Give yourself some time to reach your goal, but try to avoid a lengthy campaign that could adversely affect your fundraising dynamic.

The maximum duration of a campaign on hellomerci is 60 days, but longest campaigns do not always make the most successful ones. The emergency feeling will help you stimulate your contacts..

In most cases, campaigns reach an activity peak at the beginning and toward the end.

Choosing your reimbursement and grace period

Repayment can be spread over a period of 1 to 36 months. This period corresponds to the duration of the loan at the end of which you will have fully repaid your lenders. It is therefore necessary to adapt it to your income in order to honor your commitment to your lenders.

It is also possible for you to set a grace period of a most 6 months. During this period, your repayments do not start yet, but you can – and should – give project updates to your lenders.

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Project overview

This overview, positioned at the top of your project page, includes a title and a catchphrase. It is the first thing that people will read. Be clear and call people to back your project!

Your title should reveal the goal of your project... in 60 characters. The address of your project page will be drawn from it. Be direct and simple, and try to imagine it from the perspective of someone you do not know: what will he understand?

The catchphrase can be up to 140 characters long, and has to communicate the nature of you project.

Locating your project

Your project may be of interest in your vicinity. It is important for visitors to know where your project is located. Enter your zip code, and choose your location from the list of matching results.

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Project widget

These elements will also be used for your project widget. This is how your project will show up on the site's search page, and how will be able to embed it on a blog or a personal website.

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About you

Talking about yourself can be difficult, but lenders need to understand who you are before contributing to your project. The more information you will share with them, the more credible you will appear.

Remember that as a project owner, you are putting your image and reputation on the line. Thus, your degree of social exposure, and therefore the risk that you are assuming in public is a good reflection of the level of trust you place in your project.

Your identity

Sharing your Facebook or Twitter accounts increases your visibility and allows users to learn some more about you.

On hellomerci, we are asking you to confirm your accounts on these platforms. This is not mandatory, but a way to assert your confidence even more, and increase your project's credibility by exposing your e-reputation.

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Description

This part provides the essential information about your project. Here, you need to explain the genesis of your project, the various development stages, and the reason(s) why you are calling to the public. This is the story of your project, so tell it well!

You should try to answer the following questions: Who? What? How? Where? Why? Make you project credible by sharing as much information as you can.

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My financial plan

To make your financial plan easy to understand by your community, you can use a pie chart. Specify with precision the financial resources of all kind, the chart will be generated by itself on your project page.

The more specific you will be in your explanations of which financial resources you provide for your project, the more odds you have to convince people to trust you.

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What will I do with the funds?

The two rules to follow here are consistency and transparency. Asking your acquaintances and the public to participate is far from being trivial. You should accurately detail the expenditures you are funding through your campaign. If your campaign is part of a broader financing plan, be sure to mention the other sources of funding.

Keep in mind that the total expenditure should match your campaign funding goal.

Your budget

You can sketch your needs as a chart that will show some of your expense items. Enter each item with the amount you have planned, aiming for about 3 to 8 entries, and the chart will show up automatically on your project page.

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How am I going to repay?

After an eventual grace period, you start repaying your lenders according to the expected schedule: your lenders must understand the driving force of your activity in order to assess its credibility.

This section is not only crucial in the eye of your friends and family, but it is especially important for lenders who do not have the chance to know you.

It is fundamental for you to be familiar with the minimum number of units you expect to sell to be able to cover your expenses and monthly repayments.

You can build up your lenders' trust with some repayment guarantees that are not directly linked to the revenues generated by the project. For example, you can point to some personal financial contributions, scholarships or even mention additional activities that can provide an alternative income source.

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Does my project have a social impact?

Answering to this question will help make your project more likely to attract wider audiences, and get support from people you may not directly know.

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Your project picture

Choosing a good picture or photograph for your project may be harder that it seems, but it is a very important step when creating your project. This picture will help in identifying your project on the site, and also outside of the site once shared on blogs or social networks.

To make the best of your project page, we suggest using a simple picture without title or text, in landscape orientation. A 16:9 ratio will work best. To prevent too much blurring on larger displays, try uploading a picture with a resolution of at least 1280 by 720 pixels.

If necessary, you can use an online image editor such as Pixlr to resize your picture.

Your project video

If you are keen on increasing the attractiveness of your project page, you should take the time to record a presentation video. Record a rather short video - at most 2 minutes - in which you present your project by outlining the reasons why you are running this campaign to fund it.

Be yourself and have fun! Give your contributors the incentive to share your project with their community.

Your video can be hosted on YouTube, Dailymotion, or Vimeo.

Your avatar

Your avatar will be displayed beneath the picture of your project. You can upload an avatar from the project edition page or from your profile edition page. We recommend that you use a picture of yourself, in a square format, to identify yourself on the site.

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Identity documents

Before submitting your project, we ask you to enter the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Postal address
  • Phone number; our team will need to contact you to help your improve your project
  • Bank account information – IBAN and BIC – of the account on which the transactions for your loan will be performed.

To ensure the correctness of these informations, we will also ask your to upload a digital copy, scanned or photographed, of the following documents:

  • ID card or passport
  • Bank details
  • Proof of address.
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Submit your project

Once your are satisfied with your project's presentation, you can submit it to our team by clicking the « submit project » button on your project page. You will be notified if any mandatory information is missing.

Once submitted, the project is not yet displayed on the site, and will be treated by our team of moderators.

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A moderator calls you

If your project matches our criteria, a moderator will call you in about 3 business days after the submission, et will help you improve your project's presentation if necessary.

To help you prepare a successful campaign, we will more specifically try to ensure that:

  • Your funding target and your campaign duration match the size of your community
  • The title and picture of your project give a good overview of your project
  • Your project's description and your business model will be understood by visitors who do not know the project beforehand.

If any modifications are necessary, your project will be set to an editable state. After your changes, click again on the « submit project » button to have validated by your moderator.

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Your project is validated

Once your project is validated, you are notified by email, and will get the final URL address of the project on the site.

Don't panic, you are in control : until your manually start your campaign, visitors will not see a « lend » button, and the campaign timer does not start. This will give you time to prepare everything you need, and trigger your campaign at the right time. Once the campaign is started, you can start sharing your project's address with your contacts.

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Starting your campaign

You choose the right time to start your campaign, by clicking on the « launch campaign » button on your project page, once the project has been validated. This will trigger the campaign timer.

To make the best of your first campaign days, it may be useful to start bringing forward your project among your community before even launching your campaign.

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Menu-1-small

Your personal and banking informations are available from the drop down menu found in the top right part of the site.

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Submit-small

The submit button can be found on the project management menu, located on top of your project page.

You must be signed in to access this menu.

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You will also find the launch button on the project management menu, in place of the « submit project » button.

You must be signed in to access this menu.

Understanding the three circles

Despite a keen interest in your project, you should not expect strangers to generously risk their savings and go without the benefits associated with a safe investment. You will first have to convince people who care and believe in you, and that is your family and friends. An essential part of your loans will come from this first circle, and their support will be the best proof of your project's reliability.

Then, by word-of-mouth, through social networks, or by whatever means you deem relevant, you will connect with people you know less, but who potentially share an interest in your project's success: friends of friends, office neighbors, current or prospective customers, or simply strangers who find your project fun or interesting.

Do not get mistaken: a successful fundraising campaign on hellomerci requires some effort.

But you will raise much more than money; your campaign showcases the usefulness and reliability of your project. Moreover, it will consolidate a network that will provide support throughout the development of your business: the community of people who care.

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1st circle: your friends and family

Start by mobilizing your nearest and dearest around your project. Your first circle is essential for achieving a good campaign dynamic and increasing the credibility of the project. Be aware that at least 40% to 50% of your funding will come from people who know you and want to support you. You will then rely on this first circle to spread the word around your project and help you reach other communities.

For small fundraising campaigns, the first circle will often be enough to reach your goal.

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2nd circle: influential intermediaries

You know little or nothing about them, and yet they are going to play a central role in your campaign's success. When compared to the first circle members, those individuals are not that close to you but they are numerically superior.

To reach them, trigger a word-of-mouth by asking your first circle to relay the information.

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3rd circle: the public

The public will not accidentally stumble upon your project page from around the web. It is your job to find the right method to communicate around your project in order to spread the word and reach the greatest number of people.

Try talking with bloggers and journalists sharing the same interest. But do it at the right time! They will only talk about your project if your campaign is already at an advanced stage. Success breeds success.

Keep in mind: do not try to cut corners. Each and every circle will provide you with an opportunity to reach the following one. And who knows, maybe a mentor on hellomerci will be willing to act as a relay and convey information about your project to its own community.

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Mobilizing your first circle

You have just launched your campaign. To have your project displayed on the “discover projects” page, you will have to gather at least 5 pledges from your close friends or your family.

The first step is often the hardest, and many people will be reluctant to participate if your campaign stays at 0%. If you cannot convince your friends and family that your project is worth being funded and you will be able to reimburse, it will be even harder to convince people outside this first circle.

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Your first steps

As soon as your project is launched, send an email - personalized if possible - to selected people among your community, giving them the URL address of your project page, and explaining the purpose of your campaign. Every pledge, no matter how small, is welcome. You can also ask these people to communicate and share a link to your project around them.

It may be helpful to start bringing forward your project among your community before even launching your campaign. The first pledges will come sooner, and you will be able to reach a wider audience faster.

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Announce the start of your campaign

Now that your project is visible, it is time to announce the start of your fundraising campaign on social networks and to all your contacts from the first circle: friends, colleagues, neighbors, clients…

When posting about your project, include the address of your project page so that your contacts can visit it directly. Keep your messages short, and explain how the crowdfunding campaign will help you, rather that explaining your project itself: this information is already available on your project page.

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Keeping your first circle engaged

Make a second round of communication with your first circle, this time by targeting contacts by areas of interest and with more personalized messages. Thank all the lenders that have already backed your project, and ask people to spread the word about your project.

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Widen your community

A fundraising campaign on hellomerci is also an opportunity to talk about your project and reach people you may not necessarily know. You can ask your contacts to talk about your project, print flyers or even try getting some press coverage.

Be careful with your timing though; your second and third circles will be reached more easily once your campaign is at an advanced stage.

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Finishing your campaign

Once your campaign on its tracks, it will be easier to move people your do not know, and this will also be a good time to get your project known in your geographic area.

You can try getting some coverage in local media, or get help from institutions that may have an interest in projects in their area.

And what about moving your communication to the real world? Some project owners have had a lot of success printing flyers and having them displayed by local shops.

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Third circle : the public
Second circle : friends of friends
Your first circle : friends and family
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10%
25%
50%
First circle
90%
Second circle
100%
Third circle

Initial payment

Once your campaign has reached its goal, the funds are transferred to your personal account, after applying a 3 to 6% fee. The transfer is done in about 3 to 4 business days. Check one last your bank account information and call us if you have any doubt.

You have now on access to an invoice in the “dashboard” section of your project page.

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Grace period

For a period up to 6 months that you have set when creating your project, no repayments are due. During this time, keep your lenders posted about your projects progress:

  • either by posting news in the comments section of your project. Lenders will be notified of your post
  • or by sending emails: the list of your lenders can be downloaded from the « dashboard » section of your project page when your are logged in.
Invoice

You can download your invoice and your list of lenders from the area at the bottom of your project dashboard.

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Repayment

After the grace period, you start repaying your lenders according to the schedule. 10 days before each repayment, you will receive a reminder of the tentative debit date and amount.

After the repayment debit, the amount is dispatched to each lender. If a backer pledged 200 € for a project with repayments over 10 months, he will receive 20 € each month.

Reimbursement

Once your project is funded, you can track the progress of your repayments in this area of your dashboard.

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Congratulations!

You have reached the end of our guide. Thank you for taking the time to read it before starting your project.

You now know everything you need to create your project and make it succeed. Feel free to come back to the relevant sections of this guide at each step of your campaign.

Good luck!

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You can access your dashboard from the project management menu.