Could crowdfunding be another tool in your fundraising toolbox?

Jamie Evans

Jamie Evans is on the Research Team at the Community Development Foundation.

The Community First Crowdmatch Challenge was a partnership project between Nesta, Buzzbnk and CDF to assess the potential of crowdfunding for community groups that had taken part in the Community First programme managed by CDF. Throughout the process groups were offered invaluable guidance from Crowdfund UK.

Computer games, 3D printers, beer, movies and light bulbs. These are just a few of the things that have successfully raised an awful lot of money through crowdfunding. Your community group, it seems, could also be added to this list.

This was what the Research team at the Community Development Foundation (CDF) found out in our latest research, “Crowdmatch Challenge: Insights into matched crowdfunding for small community groups in deprived areas”. We followed a number of community groups on their crowdfunding journey, from their decision to first crowdfund right up to the end of their project.

We found that this really is a new and exciting way for small groups to raise the funds that they need. Crowdfunding can offer a powerful new tool in the fundraising toolbox.

But wait, what actually is crowdfunding?

The concept of crowdfunding is really quite simple. The idea is just to use the internet to raise a target amount of money from the ‘crowd’, which for community groups is largely (although certainly not limited to) local people. In return for donations, groups usually offer some kind of reward to their donors; these could be t-shirts, a free session with the group, a name on a plaque, or pretty much anything else that the group is able to offer.

Groups raise their money online by making a very simple webpage on one of a number of crowdfunding ‘platforms’, which are essentially larger websites that host groups’ crowdfunding projects. For a list of good crowdfunding platforms see this handy resource on Just Act.

The platforms try and make setting up your webpage as painless as possible – you only really need to type in a bit of a blurb about your project, add a few pictures and set a few targets. Fortunately there’s no need to worry about computer code or anything too technical!

Our research also found that when groups struggled with crowdfunding, it’s because they didn’t feel they had the resources to devote to continually promote their campaign. So, here are some handy tips to make your crowdfunding campaign a success…

1. Don’t use crowdfunding just to pay the bills!

email99Some projects seem to be more ‘crowdfundable’ than others. The best crowdfunding campaigns inspire people to donate.

This is far more likely if you’re raising money for a specific project or event – something with tangible benefits to the local community.

Simply using it to pay the bills and keep your group running isn’t so inspiring. So try and think about the best occasion to use crowdfunding for your group and you’ll have the best chance of success.

2. Be creative with your rewards

trophy69Crowdfunding is basically about capturing the imagination of the crowd, so do as much as you can to excite them.

One of the ways you can do this is by offering rewards that people really want. Event tickets, free food and signed CDs were some of the things that proved popular within our research.

3. Keep publicising your campaign

speech107We found that you’ll never raise anything if you just put your crowdfunding page up and leave it; you need to get out there and let people know about your idea.

Mention the project to just about everyone you meet, email all your contacts and get the rest of your group to do the same, share the campaign far and wide via social media.

For guides on how to publicise your project see ‘Step 5 – Promote your project’ on Just Act.

4. Aim high but be realistic

business183It’s important to be realistic about what you’re group can hope to achieve. The groups involved in our research raised an average of around £1,200 within 60 days but one group raised well over £4,000.

These figures may seem modest compared to crowdfunding’s greatest hits but the money will still make a huge difference to local communities across the UK.

And, at the end of the day, there’s no real limit to what you can achieve from crowdfunding; with a killer idea, a bit of effort and your imagination, who knows where it will take you?

Has your community project tried crowdfunding? Would you like to? Click ‘Leave a reply’ below to share your experiences or add your own top tips.

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