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Aug 29

What is Crowdfunding?

Posted on August 29, 2016 at 9:38 AM by Web Master

It’s funny how we can be familiar with a concept, but never know it has a formal name. We think, “Oh is that what we’re doing”? Who can recall the ice bucket challenge for ALS? How about popular challenges like a mud run or colour me rad? These events promote a good cause plus make us feel good! Raising money in a short amount of time from a large audience is not new, but it now carries a trendy name. It is called crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is an old concept. For decades, the Salvation Army has stood on street corners ringing their bells. Today, we tap into our social networks to inspire people to give.

Many crowdfunding campaigns appear in the form of a “thon”, or something to that effect. There are walk-a-thons, bike-a-thons, fun runs, polar dips, costume events, golf tournaments, and the list goes on. Creativity is king. Some crowdfunding campaigns have a theme that fuses everyone together. How about folks who pledge money to see a man wear high heels to highlight violence against women or grow a moustache during November? Have you ever purchased and worn a t-shirt along with everyone else in the name of a good cause? People seem to enjoy a shared sense of identity, even if it is just for a little while.

Why are crowdfunding campaigns so appealing? Generally, it is because the campaign has a fun and quirky element to it, it is an excellent social opportunity, you can involve your friends, you highly value the cause, or it tugs at your heart strings. There must be something attractive and achievable about the campaign. You might have a universal idea that everyone can participate (ice bucket challenge) or a restrictive idea that is more exclusive (head shave for cancer).

Imagine a crowdfunding campaign for your organization. Crowdfunding can achieve big results for small organizations if the campaign is well-thought out. Fire up a concept, set a goal, write down a plan, inspire the community, and broadcast it everywhere.

For a successful and smooth crowdfunding campaign there are multiple considerations. For instance, you should know your audience and what inspires them. The better you know your audience, the more effectively you can appeal to them and promote your campaign.

You must set a monetary goal. Explicitly state that the goal is to raise $5000 for a wheelchair accessible ramp to allow mobility challenged persons to attend a church laden with stairs. Try to attach a relevant story of how this ramp will make a difference.

Always have a call to action, because people want to immediately know what they should do next. For example, do they fill out a registration form, mail a cheque, click on a secure donation button, pick up the phone, or buy chocolate bars? It should be clear and easy about how to take action.

Lastly, make the campaign shareable! This is where technology can have a huge impact. Consider built in social sharing options, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or any other relevant social media. Absolutely, leverage your organization’s website for online registrations and donations, but don’t rely solely upon it. Direct asks are still very important! Start with the people that you know. Now is the time to leverage your existing relationships. Research shows that people are more likely to donate to a cause after being asked by someone that they know.

Remember to be newsworthy. Have a communications strategy ready for when local reporters get wind of your campaign. Think about doubling your monetary goal by approaching a local corporation to match the funds raised from your crowdfunding campaign.

Other tips are to use photos or videos in your campaign, but ensure all of your marketing is consistent using the same story, images, and request. Be responsive – make certain that there is someone accessible for questions. Make your crowdfunding campaign fully mobile. Ensure the donation process is secure. Try tiered giving - some people can give ten dollars for a bag of dog food, but others may give one hundred dollars for neutering. There should be a sense of urgency, because the premise of a crowdfunding campaign is to raise a lot of money in a short timeframe. For example, you set a goal to raise $3000 for 30 winter jackets between September and Christmas time.

Document your campaign as you go along. Have fun – take pictures, share stories, post videos, provide key messages, and give regular updates about how close the campaign is to the targeted goal. Communicating with your donors is significant, because they like to know the results of their participation.

The future of giving is online. We are in a realm of digital donors. Judge if your crowdfunding campaign would benefit from a paid service such as CanadaHelps.org to help with marketing, paid registration, donations, and receipts. Causevox is another popular platform for crowdfunding. These services may be a sensible option if you have a sizeable monetary goal.

Most of us have participated in crowdfunding, but didn’t call it as such. Even as children, we raised a lot of money in a short timeframe for a good cause. We crowdfunded through lemonade stands and carwashes. We raised a lot of money for good things. If we can do this as youngsters, we can do it as adults. Perhaps, you’ll be stirred to replicate a crowdfunding campaign that you’ve seen on the news or fashion one of your own. Crowdfunding has always been an acceptable and creative way to raise money. A little money from a lot of people can go a long way to funding your organization’s mission. 

Crowdfunding Guide 
CanadaHelps Crowdfunding Tips
Crowdfunding and CauseVox