Making Your Fundraising Campaign a Success​

​After hearing “no” from five or six banks, Ali and Jon Hovan still wanted to open HiHO Brewing. So the couple, who were homebrewers for many years, but teachers by trade, went to the Internet for inspiration and came away with a few ways to hopefully make their fundraising campaign a success. A while later, a Kickstarter effort for $20,000 ended up with more than $30,000 and they were able to go forward with their taproom for the 7-barrel facility that opened in January of 2017 in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

The couple laid out their path to success recently at the Ohio Craft Brewers Association annual conference.

Here was some tips shared during their hour-long chat:

  • Sell, then buy: Ali Hovan noted that before you start a fundraising event, make sure to have your branding nailed down. You may not need to have the merchandise already purchased and ready for sale, but have the look figured out. This can also help with managing inventory to start or determining a starting point on how many shirts, hats, glasses and other such merchandise you will need.
  • Mix and Match: For many fundraising sites, a supporter can only use their login  once, that means you may be losing a higher amount of sale if you don’t package items. Have a slot for a hat, a slot for a shirt and also a glass, but make sure to package those together as well at a higher tier to help both you and the supporter.
  • Find inspiration: The Hovans said they looked at other breweries that found success. For them, that meant seeing what Braxton Brewing did, where it raised more than $70,000 with a goal of just $30,000. “We found things that made sense on what they did,” Ali Hovan said. “They had the most backers with a package of $75 or more. It gave us ideas.”
  • Give an experience: Branded merch is great and an easy start, but Jon Hovan noted that connecting with future consumers also meant giving an experience. “It’s more than just coming in ​and drinking a beer, it’s giving them an experience,” he said. “We have the Gorge Metro Park outside the taproom, so we were able to bring people on a hike and then a brewing session. We brought people into the space before we were even open. It was just concrete at the time.” Ali suggested how a “Be a Brewer for a Day” costed them nothing, but meant a whole lot to the backer.
  • Add more if it sells: The brewery is now adorned with 50-some barstools with people’s named on the back. It originally was just a dozen or so chairs,  a $200 option, but the very little amount of cost (about $12 per stool) ended up raising $10,000 for the brewery’s taproom. Hovan said every time they sold out of 16 stools, they would add 16 more. “Finding something as simple as that generates excitement and people still come in and ask how to get their name on a stool,” she said. “Put people’s names on things and they will love it: a wall, a stool, a mug.”
  • Relax, don’t watch the clock: Hovan noted that heading into their last week of a 30-day campaign they still had not reached the goal. “People want to be the person to put you over the mark,” she said. “So people will wait until Day 28 or 29 to pledge. After we hit that mark, the last $10,000 really came flowing through.” Continuous promotion through social media and news outlets all the way to the end are never a bad idea as well.

The couple also shared insight on starting a micro-loan program they called “The Founders Club” which we will delve into later this month.

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