Go independent with your crowdfunding project?

Should you use a platform for your crowdfunding project - or go it alone

I was asked at a recent workshop whether it was possible to run a crowdfunding project independently - without registering on a platform. The answer is - yes, of course. But you should look carefully at the pros and cons.

Running an independent campaign saves you the 4-5% commission on the money you raise. If you run a “keep everything you raise” campaign it would save you 9% if you do not reach your target.

You would need a well established site, flexible to run an interactive subsite, with payment processing through PayPal or credit card and an IT and admin team to process the data.

What are the cons of this approach?

  • time to set up a landing page on your website and maintain it
  • lack of a presence on a platform could narrow your marketing to the people who already access your site
  • administration of payments

Crowdfunding is different from other form of online giving i.e. a campaign for a project or venture which runs for a limited time with tiered donation levels linked to rewards or perks. As the campaign progresses everyone can see the amount raised. Donations are returned on the “all or nothing” model if the target is not met.

Asking for donations to ongoing costs with a “donate now” button without an end time, rewards or tied to a specific project is online giving. See TIDE (an educational centre in Birmingham) or Independent Midwives.
Crowdfunding a project hard work but exciting. The short time frame acts a catalyst for action and can grow your community and support base quickly. It also allows donors to become part of something specific and enables a relationship through engagement rather than donation to happen.You can do both. The Contact Theatre Manchester has a “donate now” button which links to their Just Giving page. They are also running a specific crowdfunding campaign Contacting the World to fund an International Theatre Festival through IndieGoGo.

Other go it alone campaigns Cancer Research My Projects allows the donor to chose a particular research project that means the most to them. Though if the target is not met on any project then it will be funded.

Dr Marta Vicente, a scientist based at Kampala University, is fundraising to set up the Institute of Biomedical Research in the medical campus of Kampala International University. She posted her idea - asking for donations of equipment, stationery and money - to her circle of friends and it has proved so popular she has now to think of administration and collection of material. She is planning a bigger launch soon - so watch this space.

So whether you go alone or join a crowdfunding platform depends on (as always)

  • the size of your organisation
  • your IT and person resources
  • whether you really want a “donate now” button rather than run a crowdfunding campaign

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



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One Response to “Go independent with your crowdfunding project?”
  1. It is now feasible to crowdfund directly from your own site without having to go via a third party such as Just Giving (have a look at wordpress plugins for instance). The technology nowadays is simple and easy to administer, so it is not this that prevents a successful independent crowdfund rather key factors that affect all crowdfunds such as preparation, time and networks.

    Often projects and organisations think that by crowdfunding on a platform they will be immediately funded. Whether on a platform or independent, the traffic to your project needs to come from you. Very few people browse platforms with the intention of randomly donating to projects.

    Preparation and planning are key -
    We are a Creative Crowdfunding Agency helping a Scottish chocolate company raise funds from their own site. Planning took a good 3 months, and the actual communications plan during the crowdfund is meticulous for everyone involved. The bicycle academy from People Fundit, spent over 6 months prior to the crowdfund on People Fundit seeding the idea and bringing people on board - which certainly paid off as they raised over £40k in a few short days.

    Social Networks
    Knowing the ins and outs of twitter and facebook is a steep learning curve and changes all the time, but spending time on them does reap the benefits.
    Growing a network takes time, as it is not just the case of how many followers do you have, but how engaged are they with you, and more importantly how engaged are you with them? Do you converse with your followers?

    Don’t depend on online networks - having your pitch and rich content is great, but nothing works better than face to face conversations where possible - so go to networking meetings, prepare talks and presentations - be infectious! There are still a huge amount of people who are not online who may well be supportive of what you do - so be flexible.

    Find your brand ambassadors, who loves what they’re doing? The more people talking about you and recommending the better.

    Your potential funders
    Have you worked out exactly why you are crowdfunding and who you want to appeal to ? These are the most important questions as once you have worked out your reasons and put a profile/ name to your supporters/ potential funders, then you can tailor a campaign and rewards that fit them exactly. In the case of Nucoco Chocolate Company, we are focusing on support from other small businesses.

    Be Creative
    Inspire - Nucoco are offering a Willy Wonka feel approach - in return for buying a brick they become ‘founding members’ and can print their logo on a chocolate brick, which then becomes a part of an edible installation. Under one of the bricks is a golden ticket worth £1,000. THey are also eligible for other benefits and are encouraged to be part of the company as time goes on.

    You absolutely need to dedicate time to a crowdfund, you CANNOT sit back and expect it to happen. You will have to put a good few hours in a day. Obama with his current campaign has a room of 40 staff sitting on twitter and facebook all day long for the whole campaign. As we know, this dedication was key to his presidential campaign.

    So, back to my first premise - There is the technology to do an independent crowdfund that doesn’t require IT specialists or additional admin staff - it is how you carry out your crowdfund that affect your chances of success, whether you sit on a platform or go it alone.

    Kirsty Burnham, co-founder, SoLoCo
    SoLoCo is a Creative Crowdfunding Agency working with small business in private and third sectors who don’t have the time or know-how to carry out a crowdfund, and help them to to raise funds and visibility directly their own sites. http://www.soloco.co.uk

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