Experiences of a crowdfunding donor - a sad tale of neglect and isolation

I have made donations to a number of crowdfunding campaigns over the past few months

Was it a positive experience? Did it give me a warm glow inside? 

Yes - but it could have been better

I have been investing in Kiva loans for a couple of years and donating to favourite charities for much longer (and working in one). When I started Crowdfunduk I decided to make a number of donations to campaigns that caught my eye. But it was part of the research. I wanted to know how the platforms and campaigns would engage with me - an unknown donor.

I looked at all the UK sites but there were no projects run by people or organisations I knew so I became what Mark Blair of MyProjectFunds has called a Shopper (see my previous post on why people donate). Shoppers (i.e. those with no connection with a campaign but are looking to donate) will be the people who will make crowdfunding mainstream and allow campaigns to reach out beyond their social networks.

Shoppers are like gold dust (actually so is anyone who donates to a campaign)

but was I treated as such? Sadly no, not by most of the campaigns

Beginning of rant

Someone who donates could

  • donate more if they feel involved
  • tell their friends  - bridging between and extending your social networks
  • be part of your community, a future customer, member of the audience or service user

This is especially important if they are outside your social networks.

So what about my experiences and how they can inform future campaigns 

Location matters - I have so far donated to projects in Greater Manchester; a festival I could travel to and the Hackney Pirates because the project sounded fantastic and I want to be a pirate! If I lived in London I’d have gone to look around and maybe volunteer - but they did not ask me and they didn’t know where I lived.

Rewards are important but not everything - I wasn’t too bothered about rewards - I was looking for interesting projects (though hoping to receive Sara Han’s tote bag) in areas of personal interest. I donated to a Festival of Ancient Drama as I’d like to see that happen. The campaign raised 2% of its target - not surprised never heard anything from them - not even when I sent a sympathetic email.

Plan your time - if you are going to be busy, can’t answer emails or out of the country - don’t run your campaign at that time. One successful campaign, a theatre project for the young, never contacted me. Neither they not the platform let me know they had raised the money and I have never had a thank you which was my reward. When I did hear from them the reason for silence was because they are busy performers and don’t have an office. They were lucky to have raised a small target amount - others won’t be.

Get your facts,  dates and budget right - I was looking for something feasible but fun. One quirky campaign I rejected was a guy’s tour of Britain taking photos during a particular week - because his campaign ended after the dates in question! I wanted to invest in the development of a particular game but it looked too complicated and there wasn’t enough information on how it could be used. There was a vaguely interesting startup on CrowdCube but the founder wanted to pay himself too high a salary in the first year.

Make personal contact. Don’t expect donors to hunt you out. - I donated the minimum and waited to see if they would persuade me to donate more through personal contact. Though I have a good online presence and the campaigners had my email address I only received impersonal emails from the platforms confirming my donation and one standard email from a campaign thanking me - nothing from any of the others. No repeat emails, no tweets - nothing.

(Please, please a thank you should be standard NOT a reward..)

Now I know all the people running the above campaigns are creative, committed and very busy people. I am sure they are likeable and friendly. But so are the people who you want to donate. Don’t treat us as anonymous funders whose job (paid or not) it is to dispense grants who have to maintain a professional distance. If you want people to donate (and more than once); spread the word; be your future customers ….

please - involve and THANK THEM!

End of rant!

Join me on an introduction to crowdfunding workshop

Middlesbrough 14 June  10.00 15.30

Workshop in partnership with Funding Information North East and Middlesbrough Voluntary Development Agency

Central Middlesbrough venue

Rochdale 26 June 09.30-13.00

Workshop in partnership with CVS Rochdale

Venue: CVS Rochdale, Partnership House, Sparrow Hill, Rochdale OL16 1QT

Crewe 3 July  10.00 - 15.30

Workshop in partnership with CVS Cheshire East

Venue:The Exercise Studio, Belong, Brookhouse Drive, Crewe

2 Responses to “Experiences of a crowdfunding donor - a sad tale of neglect and isolation”
  1. Mark Blair says:

    Unfortunately, you are SO right! I emphasize to my crowdfunding clients that a simple “Thank You” can be worth more than the perks. It’s amazing how many people make the excuse that they are “too busy” to make regular updates or send “Thank You’s”. Their actions are reflected in their results, little to no funding received.

    Thank you for pointing this out! It is an important thing for crowdfunders to know!

    Mark Blair
    My Project Funds

  2. I feel your pain!

    Too many people see crowdfunding as an easy option, without realising it takes just as much thought, attention and time as preparing a business plan, baking a cake or growing vegetables… in other words, you can’t expect results if you don’t put in the time and effort.

    One thing I would say, is that for many, many people this is a whole new model and sites like yours that educate and encourage, can only help with that process.

    My bet is, five years from now, crowdfunding will be as much part of the financial landscape as Twitter is the communications landscape.

    Thanks for your support too :)

    Founder: http://www.bloomvc.com

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