Case Study: Annapolis Royal Lighthouse

About the Site

The Annapolis Royal Lighthouse was built in 1889 and is an icon of the area’s rich maritime culture.

Annapolis Royal is one of Canada’s largest national historic districts and the lighthouse is located in the hear of this booming tourist destination.

In 2015, Annapolis Royal Lighthouse was one of 26 lighthouses to compete in the This Lighthouse Matters crowdfunding competition.

Case Study

2015 THIS LIGHTHOUSE MATTERS Crowdfunding Competition

How one organization turned tourists who visited their area into dedicated supporters for their crowdfunding campaign.

The Challenge

In 2015 The Historical Association of Annapolis Royal was struggling to keep up with major restoration work needed to keep the lighthouse open to the public. So, they competed in the National Trust’s This Lighthouse Matters crowdfunding competition which supported Nova Scotia communities who were working to save their lighthouses. But how could the group turn tourists who visit their area into dedicated supporters for their crowdfunding campaign?

The Approach

  • The group produced posters, flyers and post cards to promote their campaign.
  • The posters were placed in local businesses; the flyers were handed out to tourists; and the post cards were placed in the guest rooms at local inns.
  • The themes of these materials changed several times throughout the campaign. One theme was “Give us 5!” – meaning 5 friends you will reach out to on social media to help support the campaign
  • All promotional materials directed people to their Facebook page where a direct link took them to the Annapolis Royal Lighthouse voting page on the competition website. That made it easy for people to vote, and each time they did they found updated information and photos about the project on the Facebook site.
  • The group recruited local restaurant servers and retail sales staff to act as ambassadors for their campaign, encouraging visitors to vote for their lighthouse.
  • They pitched their campaign to tour groups at the end of each tour, telling stories about the lighthouse, why saving it mattered, and how they could help.
  • They walked around town regularly, visiting places where tourists gathered – like the farmers market in the centre of town – talking about their campaign and handing out the flyers.


Annapolis Royal won the highest prize in their category in the This Lighthouse Matters crowdfunding competition – $40,000. The lighthouse was restored in time to play a prominent role in the area’s Canada 150 celebrations.

As they watched their vote tally grow, they could see spikes in support after a tour pitch, or a walk through the market, so they knew their marketing campaign was working. They credit the last tour on the last day of voting with propelling to them to the top spot.

They connected with people from all over Canada and the world and found a new base of support for future projects.

Lessons Learned

01. Tell a compelling story.

It’s not enough to simply ask for support when you’re talking to people who don’t know about your project. You need to tell a compelling story that engages them and makes them want to be part of your success.

02. Keep your material fresh.

Refreshing your materials and updating your Facebook page throughout a crowdfunding campaign keeps supporters engaged and coming back to vote again and again.

03. Enlist the help you need.

Organizing a successful crowdfunding campaign takes time and effort. You need a team to help you. It’s not a one-person job.