Making crowdfunding work

Join the Crowd

We live in a connected world. Many of us spend hours connecting and communicating with friends and family through multiple social media networks. We openly and freely share our moods, our adventures, where and what we ate, how we feel, and a whole lot more.

It is technology that allows us to connect with friends, family, and associates regardless of distance. Facebook claims to have 1.86 billion monthly active users. LinkedIn has 467 million users followed by Twitter with 319 million active users.

With the popularity of social media, growing personal connections with friends, and our openness in sharing, it is no surprise that we see a rise in using our personal networks to raise funds for our passions, causes, or ideas. This is referred to as crowdfunding which is the practice of raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. In 2015, it was estimated that more than $34 billion was raised through crowdfunding worldwide.

A recent study of the Millennial generation found that people of this age group value their networks as strongly as they value giving their money or their time. It is a proven fundraising strategy that people give to people. Individuals are more likely to participate if asked by a friend or someone they trust.

Crowdfunding is sometimes called peer-to-peer fundraising, one friend asking another friend to get involved. The result can balloon into a grassroots effort.

This type of fundraising is a great way to rally and enlist your friends and their friends in support of an idea, cause, or passion.

In the corporate world, companies are increasingly allowing crowdfunding as part of their internal employee giving programs. Employees are able to post videos or testimonials about their favorite causes and then ask their colleagues to join with them and either make a financial contribution or provide volunteer service.

Some companies allow employees to invite and host nonprofit organizations on their campus to provide them with exposure to their peers. Passionate employees should be on the lookout for opportunities at work and through the employee engagement programs to promote their favorite nonprofits or causes.

Whether inside or outside the walls of the workplace, here are some key things you should know when considering launching a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign through social media.

Crowdfund Good Done Great

Tell your story

A good story behind a crowdfunding campaign is essential. Be able to clearly articulate why this campaign is important to you. Describe the problem you are trying to address and how your campaign will help. Keep your tone and messaging personal to make your friends feel closely connected to you and your project.

You want others to hear your story, and share it with their peers and family. The key is to build a large network of people that can support your cause, and share it with others.

Be authentic

Friends and colleagues need to see that what you are trying to accomplish is credible and legitimate. You must demonstrate how you are involved and why you are asking others to join you.

Create an event

People love to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves. Try to build a feeling of excitement and rally others around your crowdfunding campaign by tying the campaign to an action or activity. Consider connecting your campaign to a larger, well known event or holiday. For example, connect your campaign to a holiday, sporting event, or season to increase the momentum.

No one will forget the ice bucket challenge. It got people involved. It asked for action and people reached out and included their friends.

Keep the momentum building

Interact with peers and keep them informed of the progress. Provide frequent updates, thank you emails, social media outreach, and responses to their questions and feedback. Personalize the interaction by providing updates on the progress being made in the issue or cause that you are addressing.

Return the favor

If you ask others to support your cause, expect them to ask you to support them when they ask.

Make it fun

Look for opportunities to inject an element of fun into your fundraising effort. Have a contest, hold an event, join a happy hour, or one of a million ways to interact and make it fun while supporting a good cause.

It’s all about the number

A crowdfunding campaign is about getting larger numbers of people to join the cause. Create something that will appeal to a broad group of people. You need something that will want your friends to push the message forward and expand the circle of people being exposed.

Join the crowd

Invite others to join you and others in a worthwhile cause or venture. Use the power of your networks to do good. Working collectively, you will accomplish much.