The power of Crowdfunding

Charlie Davenport

Crowdfunding. Don’t think you can make a difference?

Think again.

And now I’ll tell you why.

The Statue of Liberty that’s why.

Well not quite… but the reason she is standing up straight in New York is all due to crowdfunding. Surprised? So was I! Without the vital crowdfunding that took place in New York City, the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, would not be standing where it does today, a symbol of America and a symbol of New York City.

The government of France commissioned the Statue of Liberty to be built as a gift to the United States in the late 1880s. It arrived in New York in pieces, awaiting a plinth to be set up and built to accommodate the bronze statue. The US had as of yet been unable to raise the funds, the Governor of New York City refused to pay for it out of the city funds and yet refused for the statue to be relocated to other major cities in America who were willing to pay for the plinth and receive the statue.

That’s when Joseph Pulitzer decided to launch a fundraising campaign that turned into an early example of what is known today as crowdfunding. With over 160,000 donations of any amount (more than three quarters of the donations were of less than a dollar), it took just five months to reach the target amount to set up the Statue of Liberty. He spread the word in his newspaper, and offered different rewards depending on how much people would pledge.

Collective fundraising has for a long time been used by communities to deliver projects for the greater good. Crowdfunding Bollywood films in the 1970s, funding UK parks in the 1800s, the projects adopted by crowdfunding can range hugely, but the ones that tug at heart strings or act for the greater good often do better.

Similar to any other fundraising campaign, you should have a few things in place before starting your crowdfunding campaign: a goal, a story and a communications strategy.

Your goal: What are you trying to raise money for? A new school, investment in developing medical treatment, buying essential basics for children or animals in need? Make sure you have a clearly established goal that you can tell people about clearly and concisely. If you have more than one thing you need to raise money for, start with focusing on one thing at a time: if the goal is too complex or confusing, people will be less likely to donate.

Your story: Don’t just give people the facts about what you need the money for. Tell people who the money will benefit, how it will make a difference, how it will turn someone’s life around. The more human and emotive the story, the more people will feel for your cause and want to get involved.

Your communications plan: There’s no point setting up a campaign if you can’t spread the word. Make sure you review your budget and then plan accordingly. If you have some money to spare then you can expand your strategy to include advertising, direct mail pieces or other printed collateral. If not then focus on your emails and your data. Make sure you tailor the message depending on who it’s going to, for maximum impact. And remember, once the campaign has launched, don’t sit back and relax. Make sure you keep promoting your cause and your fundraising campaign until you have reached your target and more!

So if you are looking for a slightly different way to raise funds for your cause, look into crowdfunding- it can make a much bigger impact than you think!

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