How does it feel to back crowdfunding projects

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 regularly donate to campaigns that catch my eye. It’s partly research. I want to know how the platforms and campaigns will engage with me – an unknown donor.

As I don’t know all the project owners I have become 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 some local projects and some far from my home because the ideas are fantastic!

Rewards are important but not everything – I’m not always bothered about rewards – I look for interesting projects in areas of personal interest. But follow through on your rewards if successful. There have been a number of small projects which I’ve backed which haven’t.

If you are unsuccessful – connect with your backers I donated to a Festival of Ancient Drama as I’d like to see that happen and could have attended. The campaign raised 2% of its target – not surprised never heard anything from them – not even when I sent a sympathetic email. Another project failed to reach its target on Kickstarter – to make a pack of cards illustrating how to be successful on Kickstarter!. The project owners contacted their backers and offered a PDF of the cards as a thank you. A great idea – except they haven’t done it.

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. When I did hear from them, after I sent a curious email, the reason given for their silence was because they are busy performers and don’t have an office. They were lucky to have raised a small target amount of £500 – others won’t be.

Get your facts, dates and budget right – I was looking for something feasible but fun. One quirky campaign was a guy’s tour of Britain taking photos during a particular week leading up to a local festival. However his campaign ended after the festival was over! 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 updates. If you don’t update you can’t contact your backers.

(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!

 

 

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