This month’s blog post showcasing successful GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign organisers highlighted how much can be achieved with a mixture of a truly authentic ask and a seemingly innate sense of how to inspire, engage and mobilise your online network.
What’s immediately notable about these campaigns is that they were created by ordinary people with a passion, rather than “professional fundraisers”. But a few other things stand out. They all have lived experience of the cause. They all knew how to harness the power of their own, personal networks to light the touchpaper of their campaign. And it’s likely that, if you asked the people who gave whether they thought of themselves as campaigners or donors, they might plump for the former and not the latter. This raises some important questions for charities about how they deploy a mixture of digital, campaigning and fundraising skills to mobilise supporters who are motivated by the high energy and immediacy of a campaign and then keep them engaged, after they’ve given.
So is there such a thing as a professional crowdfunder?
Over at The Crowdfunding Academy, we’d say, not yet but soon.
THE key skill for organisational crowdfunders is to enable people to come together in an authentic, purposeful way. And that goes for collaboration between internal stakeholders, as well as the external element of the campaign.
The people who have most authentic understanding of need, based on lived experience, and the most relevant personal networks are usually frontline staff, volunteers, beneficiaries and supporters who’ve been motivated by a personal connection.
And the people who understand how to organise, mobilise, engage, inspire and steward the originators and supporters of crowdfunding campaigns are found right across an organisation and include campaigners, fundraisers and digital marketers.
So is the need to embrace this cross-fertilisation of ideas and skills holding charities back from fully exploiting the potential of crowdfunding – to fund novel projects, reach out to new supporters and build deeper relationships with them for the future?
Our experience tell us it is.
Late to the party?
It seems a crying shame that a medium so utterly suited for cause related fundraising is more popular and more used in other sectors. Crowdfunding has challenged the traditional VC model to raise capital for start-ups from a new breed of tech savvy investors, enabled increasingly mainstream musicians to fund their new releases through their loyal fan base and allowed businesses to get new products and services to market with funding from early adopters. Donation-based crowdfunding, the main crowdfunding mechanism used by charities in the UK, grew over 500% in 2015 but the amounts raised are still relatively small, under £12m in total and makes up less than 0.5% of giving in the UK, vs 12% of new loans to small businesses and 15% of seed and venture stage equity investment.
We believe that it’s the skills gap which has made our sector late to the party. A belief that is evidenced in Nesta’s Crowdfunding Good Causes report, which also found that training in how to crowdfund would encourage 64% to try it.
A call to action
The Crowdfunding Academy has been founded to try and meet this challenge and will be drawing on Nesta’s findings about skills needs to develop its programme of study. In addition to teaching the core skills around how to run a campaign, we will also be examining how charities can make the cross organisational case for doing it.
We’re launching on 19th September with a free Crowdfunding 101 seminar and what we’d really like to see is a melting pot of fundraisers and campaigners, frontline staff, volunteers and digital marketers, all thinking together about how crowdfunding could transform the way that they engage with their networks to win support for their cause – both for campaigns and for the long term.
So our call to action to fundraisers is to grab a collaborator, come along and use the opportunity to cook up some fresh ideas about how crowdfunding can transform the way you fundraise and engage with your networks.
You can book here.
Carol Beaumont is a Director of The Social Change Agency and a Founder of The Crowdfunding Academy, a new social venture with an ambitious aim – to to equip the next generation of mainstream, mass fundraising professionals with the knowledge and skills to become expert digital fundraising practitioners and leaders.
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