The Kneeraiser – Crowdfunding For a New Prosthetic Leg

The Tally

The Kneeraiser campaign met the initial goal of $15,000 on February 9, 2014, just three days after the launch, and exceeded the stretch goal of $25,000 a few hours before the campaign ended on April 4.

The Takeaways

  • High-quality, consistent copy, graphics and videos build trust with potential donors.
  • Have a marketing plan and make sure everyone involved is on the same page.
  • Offer a wide assortment of payment options.
  • Add a personal touch or “perk” gift to contributors so the interaction doesn’t stop with the donation.
  • Be prepared to adapt on the fly.
  • If you put in the time, you can revel in the success.

Lynn-Canyon-ChristaWhat A Kneeraiser Is and How It Came To Be

Christa Couture is an independent singer-songwriter who had her left leg amputated above the knee to rid her body of Ewing’s sarcoma cancer at the young age of 13.

In December 2013, Christa spent the month trying out a microprocessor knee. When the trial ended, she posted a message on Facebook about her experience. She went from “barely remembering what having two legs was like” and avoiding stairs to seeking out steps with the microprocessor knee. She ended the message with, “Today I have to give the knee back. I feel like I’m about to turn into a pumpkin.”

Friends, fans and family responded to the Facebook post with overwhelming support and enthusiasm: “How can we make this happen?” and “Let’s crowdfund this mother!”

And so the Kneeraiser for Christa Couture was born. The name stems from the concept of a barn raiser, says the official site, “where a community comes together to contribute to the building of an essential structure for one of their own. In this case, our own is Christa Couture, excellent citizen of the world and inspiring songstress.”

How They Prepared For Success

In the month leading up to the launch, Christa and her close friend and Kneeraiser project manager, Susan Kendal Urbach, spent 25-30 hours a week getting everything in place, from creating a communication strategy with the help of a PR professional to setting up the website and working with a TV production company to create a video. All professionals involved with the cause donated their time and skills.

“Our video was viewed over 4,000 times and is very well produced,” Susan said. “The ask is clear, as is the story, and it’s very well paced. I think this made a huge difference.”

Besides a professional video, they “wrote and edited very carefully and made all our images consistent. We also created a campaign-specific email,” explained Susan. “All these elements meant that the campaign felt very professional, reliable and organized.”

In other words, they removed any doubt that the donated funds would go toward the stated cause.

They also created email templates to communicate with people who wanted or needed to donate by check, money order or direct deposit so they had a variety of payment methods covered.

Then, to create more incentive to donate, 19 of Christa’s artist friends donated their work as “perks,” an extra thank you to contributors. Christa’s mom volunteered to make sure each gift got to the proper donor, and Christa wrote personal cards to everyone that contributed.

While perks provided extra incentive to donate, the sheer number of artists backing the crowdfunded campaign reassured strangers that there was already a foundation of supporters that wanted Christa and her team to reach their goal.

How They Got The Word Out

Besides the PR pro helping drum up publicity in the form of print and online articles, Christa leaned on her social media networks, newsletter, as well as her friends’ and perk artists’ newsletters.

Consider The Psychology Of The Messaging

The Kneeraiser had the goal of improving someone’s quality of life, which is already a more personal request than asking for money to develop a product. Instead of relying on this alone, Christa’s team was still diligent about their word choice in the messages.

“We made it feel like an organization doing the ask for the money so that it wasn’t
Christa asking for herself,” said Susan. Using language like “we” and “us” also instilled a sense of community in anyone who heard about the campaign, making them feel like they were contributing to something larger than themselves.

Between the show of support from the 19 perk artists and the community pull from the project’s message, success radiated from the website, which likely attracted even more attention. People want to be part of winning initiatives, and so much positivity created additional momentum for the Kneeraiser.

IgnitionDeck “Far Superior”

Susan noted the 500 Maximus Theme, IgnitionDeck and technical support were “invaluable” to the Kneeraiser’s success.

“Shawn was utterly reliable and went so above and beyond as technical support, particularly at the start when we had a LOT of questions,” she shared.

Beyond outstanding customer service, Christa’s team loved these particular features of the IgnitionDeck setup:

  • Customizable automatic reply with the receipt
  • Ease of tracking who had donated in the backend
  • Ability to add donations manually

“It was exceptional overall,” Susan said. “It was far superior to the current platforms out there that take a percentage of one’s total, particularly since we were trying to raise such a large amount.”

Words of Advice

Susan also passed along some great lessons about setting up a successful crowdfunding campaign.

  • “Choose your cause carefully and only do this once in a while. I think it’s easy to exhaust one’s personal audience with crowdfunding efforts.”
  • To do a great, professional job, you must be dedicated to the project and invest a massive amount of time.
  • Be prepared for many late nights prepping for the launch and during the campaign working out glitches – “it is like an actual job.”
  • Make low donation options and have many choices. “The biggest thing we learned after that first day was to offer a LOT of payment amount options … We didn’t initially make a lot of cheaper donation amounts. I think our lowest was $40, and that was a mistake.”



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