How to Submit a Project

You’re staring at the “Submit a Project” page wondering what to write in order to make it successful. Yup, we’ve been there too. Here are some tips about how to create a great campaign that will get donors to come running.

First…REGISTER! You have to be registered in order to submit a campaign. Don’t worry. We only ask for your name and email address. You’ll create a username and password.

Second…PREPARE. You’ll need: 1) a good client story (2-3 paragraphs tops) with a specific ask, 2) a good picture or short video of the recipient, 3) any rewards you might be able to give donors, and 4) an email linked to your nonprofit PayPal account.

Think to yourself, “What am I raising funds to do?” Have a focused and well-defined ask. With a precisely defined goal, expectations are transparent for both the creator and potential backers.


You’re looking at a number of empty boxes. Here’s how to answer them.

Title: Besides looking at the picture, this could be the only thing people read. Make it as endearing and catchy as possible. Tell me who the client is – a retired nurse, cancer survivor, working mom, etc. You’ll tap into natural constituency groups. Then tell me something that will make me curious to open the project, like “Working Mom is Infusing Art with Food”. I want to go, “hmmm, that’s sounds interesting.” Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

Goal: How much money are you asking for? This shouldn’t be a ‘pie-in-the-sky’ number, but a figure specifically tied to whatever you’re trying to fund. Ask for a reasonable amount of money. However, make sure you take ALL costs into consideration. For example, if you need $1000 to fund a project, you may have to ask for $1090 to pay for the extra fees. If you’re shipping rewards for high pledge amounts (example: a coffee mug to anyone who donates over $100), have you figured in the cost of the mug and cost of shipping?

Length: Set a deadline for your project. It can last anywhere from one to 90 days, however a longer duration is not necessarily better. Statistically, projects on Kickstarter lasting 30 days or less have the highest success rates. Longer durations incite less urgency, encourage procrastination, and tend to fizzle out.

All-or-Nothing vs. Flexible: All-or-nothing means that the pledges are only redeemable if you meet or surpass your goal. You can always exceed your goal, but if you come up a dollar short, you get nothing. Flexible means you can collect whatever is donated at the end of the campaign. Here at Barnraisings, our strong preference is all-or-nothing. All-or-nothing tells donors that you’re being reasonable and that their donations will be used efficiently. We’ll consider flexible funding, but be prepared to explain why it’s necessary.

Category: Pick from the list. If you don’t see one that fits, pick any of them and then email us at and ask for another one to be added.

Description: Write your story as if I’m reading a short book jacket to a good fiction novel. In one to two paragraphs, set up a protagonist (your client), an antagonist (usually life events), and a point of conflict (will this person succeed without donors’ help?) Tell me things about your client that will make me root for them. Tell me the obstacles that have been thrown in their path, and how they are trying to push through them. Tell me how my donation will catapult your client into success and stardom. Really…no more than three paragraphs or people won’t read it.

Excerpt: Provide a one sentence summary of your description.

Featured Image: This is the most important part of your submission because it may be the only thing that people look at to determine if they’re interested. As best as possible, your photo should tell a story. Is it a family trying to clean up after a house fire? Instead of a head shot in front of the hedges, show them searching through the rubble. Is it a woman out of poverty starting a new business? Show them in their office making the best of what they’ve got. If you do opt for a headshot, make it intimate…like 60 Minutes intimate. Above all, show some emotion in the photograph.

Before you post a picture (or video) of your client, it’s good practice to have them fill out a photo/video release form.

Featured Video URL: Video is even better at telling a story and showing emotion. Got an iPhone or Android? If so, you’re in production. Hold it up and shoot. Then post the video on YouTube or Vimeo. That is the web address or URL that you’ll place in this section. Projects with videos are far more likely to succeed.

We’re just looking for 30-60 seconds, but again, we’re looking for a story with emotion. Most of the time, your video will be something like this…”Hi, I’m so-and-so. I was not doing well a few years ago, but my sisters and I have really pulled things together, and we’re started a new hair salon (she starts showing me the place.) It’s pretty modest, but we’re passionate about hair styling and are ready to make a go! What we could really use is a new salon chair. You know, the kind with the commercial hair dryer on top? If you could help us with this, it would really set us up for success! And if you need a haircut, come on by!”

Backer Rewards: Rewards are what donors (backers) receive in exchange for donating to a project. You don’t have to offer anything, but they certainly help motivate pledges. For example, if someone pledges $100, maybe they get a free coffee mug, or if someone pledges $500, maybe they get to have coffee with the CEO. Get creative.

The best rewards are tied to the project and organization, and there are three common themes.

Service: if you’re funding a cookie cart, you get cookies. If you’re funding a salon chair, you get a free haircut.
Experiences: a visit to the set, coffee with the nonprofit CEO, dinner with the client
Mementos: A picture of you and the client; thanks in the credits, meaningful tokens that tell a story.

Try to have rewards at multiple levels. On Kickstarter, small amounts are where it’s at: projects without a reward of $20 or less succeed 28% of the time, while projects with a reward of $20 or less succeed 45% of the time. At least offer then good karma!

There is no magic bullet, and we encourage every project to be as creative and true to itself as possible. Put yourself in your backers’ shoes: would you drop the cash on your rewards? The answer to that question will tell you a lot about your project’s potential.

Couple of notes on the form:

Click ‘collect shipping information’ if you’ll be mailing the reward to the backer (like a coffee mug or a picture.)
The ‘Amount’ box is the amount that the donor must pledge to receive the award.
The ‘Description’ is a description of the specific reward at that dollar amount.
‘Limit’ is just that. If you’re only offering a few of these rewards, put down how many are available. If there is no limit, leave it blank.

**You can add as many rewards as you’d like.

***Note that you are solely responsible for fulfilling any pledge awards.

Your Information: We ask for organization’s name and the location of the project/client. Just the city and state is fine (we’ll assume Minnesota.)

The most important part here is the PayPal email address. This email address must be the one associated with your nonprofit’s PayPal account. If you don’t have a PayPal account, you can sign up for free at It does not have to be a business or premier account, but it should be verified. That mean, it’s tied to your organization’s bank account. It’s simple to do…find a check of your organization and put in your account number and routing number.

Now read over and click the ‘agree to terms’ button. Then hit ‘submit campaign’ and you’re done!

After you submit, we’ll read it over, get back to you with any corrections/suggestions, and then try to publish it on the site ASAP.