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Crowd Funding – Bringing Ideas to Life

by Michelle Murray

It wasn’t too long ago when the major sources of fundraising happened through cookies and cakes, dance-a-thons, walks, and lemonade stands.  As social interactions grow and evolve, so does the need for further spanning the fundraising opportunity – sharing not only a dream, goal or plan, but awareness of a non-profit, product, or talent. This type of fundraising has global opportunity, but starts with a local community.

From the roots of microfinance  (Mashable, 2011) or microlending, the evolution of microlending and peer to peer lending grew; ideas blossomed into raising money to fund ideas with no financial return, and in 2009 Kickstarter changed the way creative groups, individuals and non profits raised money. Enter – Crowdfunding.

Anyone can use crowdfunding – Businesses such as Cubit’s Organic Living in Prince Edward County, Ontario all the way to individuals wanting to rebuild the Enterprise D Bridge in Sherman Oaks CA. It’s all about how you present, and ask for support that can determine the success of your project.

Over ten years ago, I stood in our grubby, hometown bar (The Townehouse Tavern), playing the role of Death in my friends dream – A graphic novel titled Cape Fear, written, and illustrated by Zombie Portrait artist Rob Sacchetto.  Back then, it was a cold wet day when I was one of the first initial illustrations in Rob’s novel, and now, over a decade later, Cape Fear has become a reality due, not only to his amazing talent as an artist, but because of crowdfunding, and people believing and sharing in his dream.

Rob sacchetto

Image: cape fear
by zombie portrait artist rob sacchetto

What made Rob decide to use Indigogo a crowdfunding platform to make his novel a reality? Besides complete creative control, Rob already had a fan base who wanted the product. He didn’t need to shop around to retailers or publishers to sell his novel – this allowed him to focus on the art of the project itself.

This type of opportunity is one that “can only exist on the Internet” says Sacchetto.

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Image: cape fear issue 2, page 7
by zombie portrait artist rob sacchetto

 

What’s in it for me?

Like every investor – be it loan’s or crowdfunding, we need to know our ROI; what’s OUR money doing for YOUR idea? With crowdfunding, instead of a financial ROI, investors receive rewards for their monetary participation.

All crowdfunding websites allow you to provide what your dollars mean to them in ways of a simple thank you, or like in Rob’s case – advertising opportunities and copies of his graphic novel are just some of the awesome ROI opportunities investors can expect now that the goal has been reached.

Having a set goal is a prerequisite for your idea to become a reality.  Each crowdfunding platform offers different types features for fundraising; including percentage fee’s paid and whether or not contributors will get their money back should your crowdfunding goal not meet it’s desired expectations.

What’s the Best Crowdfunding Platform for me and my Idea?

Like anything you do, research is key into finding out what crowdfunding platform is the best for you and your idea.

  • Are rates and percentages comparable from one platform to another
  • Are you a Canadian or a US non profit?  Some platforms only work with 501(c) organizations.
  • What happens if you don’t meet your target goal? Do your investors get their funds back?
  • Some platforms are easier to use than others, and may have restrictions depending on the country you reside in.  Do you know if the platform you want to use has the support needed for the country you live in?

“Being Canadian, we used Indiegogo.  We originally looked into using Kickstarter but despite jumping through lots of hoops there simply isn’t a way to use it unless you have an American involved with your project. I found Indiegogo pretty easy to work with. Cubit’s social reach is pretty big and we have many great customers and allies that shared our campaign far and wide. That said we were promoting our campaign heavily for the past month.” ~Laura Watt Cubit’s Organic Living

Remember, some platforms help with awareness of your idea, while others may not – if you have a good fan base, and support from all over, you may not need a crowdfunding platform to help spread your idea.  Your supporters can do that, I mean, that’s what they are there for right?

Let’s review:

  • You have a great, well thought out plan, or business idea that needs help with growth
  • There’s a great support network that can help you with a small (or large) investments
  • You have the support of an online community that can help with social shares through online platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+
  • You have the time to devote so that you can make your dream a reality

 

If you screamed YES! to any of these last points, then you have the perfect foundation to start your Crowdfunding project.

Here’s a list of some crowdfunding sites you can use to bring ideas to life (Forbes, 2012):

  1. Indigogo
  2. Kickstarter
  3. StartSomeGood.com
  4. Rockethub.com
  5. Causes.com
  6. Razoo.com

Have you used Crowdfunding in the past?  What did you like/dislike about your experience?

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