9 November 2015 | 8 Comments
On this blog I almost always talk about rewards-based crowdfunding (i.e., you pledge $40 and you get a board game in return). But there are other types of crowdfunding too, like equity-based crowdfunding and nonprofit or charitable crowdfunding.
While my previous job before Stonemaier was at a nonprofit, I know very little about nonprofit crowdfunding. So I invited reader Liza Baskir (SPUR) to share her experience with it. The story she tells at the beginning of this post and the key lessons at the end are relevant to all crowdfunders, not just nonprofit crowdfunders. Thanks Liza!
Fundraising isn’t fun. You know those people that bug you on the street and ask you for money, I was one of those people. My first job out of college was as a canvass director.
Six days a week, I would knock on eighty doors, talk to forty people, and, on a good night, get a donation from five people. At first, I was terrible at it. I’m an introvert and talking to strangers was like jumping into an ice-cold lake: it’s extremely uncomfortable and all you can think about is getting the hell out of there.
Canvassing is a skill; it’s something you get better at the more you do it. I bumbled my way through the first couple months, and after about six months I was confident in my abilities, but I was still an average canvasser.
Then I had a breakthrough. I had been approaching the job all-wrong. I saw people as a means to an end. They had the money, and my job was to convince them they cared enough about the campaign to give me that money.
Little by little money became less important, and I started to care about the people. I got excited when someone opened the door because it was a new person I could get to know. Canvassing allowed me to see a small slice of another’s life. This shift in focus made me a better canvasser.
Crowdfunding follows a similar principal. It isn’t about the money; it’s about the people who are funding your project. This is especially true for non-profits, since the mission is never to raise a Scrooge McDuck sized pile of money.
As a non-profit, utilizing crowdfunding is tricky because there often isn’t a product that backers are funding. Successful non-profits have conventional means of raising funds, so it is essential to have a rationale for running a crowdfunding campaign, which must have certain attributes.
- Tangible end goal: Unlike with conventional campaigns, this does not have to be a product. Non-profits have successfully used crowdfunding to fund community projects, such as the “Build Gateway Green Campaign” in Portland. A 38 acre Green Way is not something you can hold in your had, but there is a concrete outcome.
- Campaign provides asset to a community: Fundraising is about people. Though interactions might not take place in real life, the concept is still the same. Non-profits serve a certain community, so the funds from the crowdfunding campaign must be invested in that community.
- Need for the campaign: If there is no demand for a project, no one will fund it.
Fundraising isn’t fun, but people are awesome.
What are some stories you can share about a meaningful connection you made through crowdfunding?
Read more Kickstarter creator interviews and guest posts here.