In this video, I’m joined by Ryan from Junkyard Social Club. At The Junkyard Social Club, ideas and friends run wild. They are an ever-evolving discovery museum, rebel art venue, maker studio, adventure playground, coffee house, beer garden, and more! A place where communities can come together to unwind, celebrate, and hatch big plans. They turned to Givebutter to raise $45k through creative crowdfunding, so they could complete the final phase of their interior construction, acquire their certificate of occupancy, and open their doors. Discover how they knocked this fundraising goal out of the park and what they’re up to now, as Ryan shares:

  • Why they chose to host their café crowdfunding campaign on Givebutter
  • What made this fundraiser so successful
  • Tips, tricks, and lessons learned for rallying community support for your cause
“A lot of campaigns in the Kickstarter style, you're more or less buying a product when you donate. But in our world and on a site that's centered on nonprofits [such as Givebutter], people are a little bit more used to the fact that what they're doing is pitching into a mission.”

They really put the fun in fundraising—keep reading to learn how!

Campaign at a glance

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Full video script

Rachel: Hey everybody! Rachel here again with Givebutter. Thanks for joining for another Success Story from the Givebutter community. Today, we are featuring the Junkyard Social Club. Recently, their crowdfunding campaign raised over $56,000 on Givebutter—and that's above and beyond their $45,000 goal!—in one month to fund its adventure playground, coffee bar, rebel museum, and so much more. If you're looking for inspiration for a crowdfunding campaign that is fun and full of whimsy, I have the one for you. Ryan is here with me to share how they made this campaign so successful as well as tips, tricks, and lessons learned to help you raise more funds. Ryan, thank you so much for joining me and sharing your story.

Ryan: Yeah, thanks Rachel!

Rachel: Excited to dive in! I am just obsessed with all things Junkyard Social Club. But for those that aren't familiar with who you are and what you do, can you tell them a little bit more about your organization and your role in that?

Ryan: Oh, sure! The Junkyard Social Club is an upcoming community based in Boulder, Colorado. We are technically a museum. We have some museum background in some of our co-founders, but we come from a multitude of disciplines. My co-founder and I both come from the circus community, burning man communities. I have done a series of startups from a children's media company to an Internet of Things technology company and a music company… It's really kind of this culmination of a million ideas and communities that we've built that we're now building on. We're building a new space in Boulder that is for kids and adults alike, and it's a place that families can come together. Parents can have a beer or have a coffee and talk with their friends, but the kids are actually having fun. Often when you hear about a family space, they really mean for little children. As parents, we’re often forced to choose between “'I'm going to go have a conversation with my friend and try to keep my kids at bay,'' or maybe “I'm going to go sit bored while my kid does a jump house or something like that.” Why aren't we living together in a big community? That's what we're aiming to create here. I am the Chief Experience Officer at the Junkyard. It’s a made-up title that allows me to do all the fun things with my partner Jill.

Rachel: Wonderful! It's just such an adventurous and beautiful mission. I can see just from what I’ve looked at already on your campaign is that sense of community really came through in your approach to fundraising. You had this month-long crowdfunding campaign to help you reach some specific milestones and move the needle forward for your organization. Can you walk us back to the origin story of how did you know a crowdfunding campaign was right for this? How were you thinking about raising funds that way?

Ryan: Yeah! It was pretty obvious for us in a lot of ways. Community is our mission in so many ways, and we have been determined to build this whole organization from the ground up with a lot of community input. This playground—we call it our adventure playground—is also our beer garden, if you want to call it that. I'm sitting in a tree house right now. We have an airplane on top of a shipping container behind me and many other fun things going on. All of this has been built over the last year and a half on volunteer build days. We have been building community since long before we started the crowdfunding campaign, and it just made sense to initiate that way.

Rachel: You new crowdfunding was right for you because community is in your DNA. It’s at the core of who you are and what you do. That is what makes crowdfunding work! It’s this mentality of “We're all in this together. We're doing this together. We're accomplishing something bigger.” Tell us more specifics, as I share my screen, about your campaign. How did you decide how to tell your story and lay it out and build momentum? Because it was successful! We all want to know, how did you pull it off?

Ryan: Absolutely! I'll do my best. At the same time, we are feeling so fortunate and so lucky, so I can't explain all the magic. First of all, we were looking at different crowdfunding campaigns—obviously, Kickstarter being sort of the main alternative. Some of the reasons people tend to pitch towards Kickstarter is that it's a trusted platform. If people are giving, they know the platform. They say that it's got this huge base of users already from across the country or the world that might find out about you. But in reality, we thought that if we're hosting the Givebutter campaign right through our website, by the time people click on the donate button, they trust us. They know who we are and they’re coming through our website, so that part wasn't so important to us. Then, we are so place based; we are so geographically based. We wanted to aim this campaign directly at our community. We are building this for these people, for the Boulder community. In terms of reaching people all across the Kickstarter platform, again, not not nearly as important to us. And then, lastly, the high stakes of the Kickstarter is also something that people argue for. If you don't get your full funding, you're going to lose the money and that can encourage folks to pitch in. But, we actually built that into the language. The high stakes are just true for us. This campaign really centered around a $40,000 raise to build our cafe, which is just a chunk of the puzzle right now that everything is hinging on because it has to do with permits and things like that. It was a specific ask in a specific time frame, and the urgency was real. All of those reasons weren't arguments for us to use anybody else. We went ahead with Givebutter. Then there's the question of rewards and sort of arranging your rewards. I had a good friend argue to me that the people that would be donating to us are not coming for the reward. This is a mission-driven project and the reward is intrinsic. We’re building the space for you. A lot of campaigns in the Kickstarter style is that you're more or less buying a product when you donate. But in our world and on a site that's centered on nonprofits, people are a little bit more used to the fact that what they're doing is pitching in to a mission.

Rachel: Right.

Ryan: We did end up using rewards, and we just phrased them right there in the amounts. But first of all, we prioritized altruism in the languaging of the reward. If you’ll notice it starts with what they're doing for the community. As an aside, we're offering things that we know that we could handle. We've heard all the horror stories about companies that promise all these rewards and then that's their full-time business is fulfilling things. And if they don't fulfill them, then it's a logistical nightmare. We decided that it was in person, real events that we're going to be doing anyway like hosting little birthday parties and things like that. We made sure that the amounts were worth it for us. We were going to be able to take these funds and keep moving forward while we acquire these rewards. That was a strategy piece that I think really worked out. Now months afterwards, we're still trickling in saying, “Hey, I pitched in a bunch of money back then. You still doing that party?” What it means is that these people are now even more dedicated to our space because they're showing up in person and they're feeling like a participant rather than a customer.

Rachel: Right. That's so insightful and interesting—the different approach you took. It makes a lot of sense how specifically what you mean when you say community was your strategy and how that played out from how you set up your donation amounts, thought through incentives, told your story in video format… You can see here in your supporter feed so many comments here from people that are deeply connected and excited about what you're doing. I also want to mention that I appreciated that you didn’t take yourselves so seriously. There was just a lot of fun and a good sense of humor in this campaign. That's something we’ve seen on Givebutter. Campaigns hosts or nonprofits who are clearly enjoying themselves, invite their supporters to also have a good time while they give. Those tend to do better! Was that something that was intentional or is that just kind of a part of your brand?

Ryan: It really is intrinsic in what we're doing, but it's intentional too. When we created the video, we knew it needed to be of the same quality of the experience that we want to provide in real life. It’s a mashup of ideas, it's fast, it's humorous, it’s fun, kind of silly, but it's also  imbued with this deep sense of important mission.

Rachel: Yeah! So this was such a success, what's next? What are you going to be up to next with fundraising, do you think?

Ryan: We are actually battling quite a few setbacks just in terms of city permitting and those are our delays. We’re pushing forward in every way we can, finding every way we can be open and surviving until then. Now all of that community support that we built for this campaign is floating us—not only the money, by any means. But, that campaign was the most public we’ve been. For the month after the campaign, it was all we could do to just keep up with email. It was the first time people had heard of us. We also paired the campaign with some PR releases in our local newspaper and a couple other newspapers in the area during the campaign, which was super helpful. Those connections, the parties that we then gave away, led to a million other parties that their guests wanted to throw. These sorts of events and this community support is absolutely floating us while we're in this sort of gray area of soft opening.

Rachel: Yeah, you have over 400 supporters so that makes a lot of sense!

Ryan: I will say a couple of other tips that I think were really useful to us. After we had hit our goal, we created this stretch goal idea. We hit our goal and we knew we had time left. We started to announce, “Hey, we're going to raise the stakes and add these other items.” Which, again, we were really careful to set it in ways that the goals themselves wouldn't take us off our path. The other piece that I think was super key was we wrote personal thank you’s to every single donor as they came through.

Rachel: Nice!

Ryan: One of the ways we did that was we set up an email template for ourselves. We had some standard language, but it was custom written to every single person that donated. That initiated the conversation and then so many follow-up requests came through.

Rachel: So smart! For those that are following along right now, Ryan, who are—let's say they're just launching their nonprofit or organization with this crowdfunding model. Or, they’re launching a new program for their organization and they've never used Givebutter to do it before. This is a new concept to them. What would be your word of advice or encouragement to them? How to pull off a successful crowdfunding campaign for their new program?

Ryan: I mean some of it is platform specific and there's some technical pieces about  uploading a video, for sure. There's also pieces that are just sort of universal in terms of a good money-raising campaign, which we are new to. I was learning on the fly. The one thing that I had to take on myself and push for all of our teammates was the direct ask. In all of our communication, starting with our crowdfunding page right then and there—in the bold text, the very first text on the page right there. We underlined “please donate.” We tried to encompass that in all of our personal texts and emails to people. We have to make ourselves actually ask for someone to go donate, now. I think that that turned into this snowball effect. We were asking those who donated to ask their friends to donate. By the time we had achieved our first goal, we switched the goal in our language to just collecting donors. What we used was, “We've been blown away by your support. We've hit our goal. Our new goal is to make it to 400 supporters. If you know someone who would love to show themselves as an official supporter on the list, a dollar will get you on that list. $10 will get you on that list.” That language also helped our mission of building community, building connections, all of these people who are now in communication with us and, of course, raised funds too.

Rachel: Awesome piece of advice. Be direct Don't be shy. Ryan, thank you so much for sharing your incredibly inspiring mission and campaign with us. Congratulations to you on all your success.

Ryan: Thank you, thank you.

Rachel: For everybody else who's following along, thanks for joining us for another Success Story. Please remember to like, share, and subscribe to Givebutter’s YouTube channel, so you never miss an incredible story like Ryan's again. Until next week, happy fundraising! Bey everybody.

Ryan: Bye!

View campaign: Junkyard Social Club: Café Crowdfund

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Rachel Mills

Rachel Mills

Givebutter Marketing & Contributing Writer

Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.

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