Crowdfunding 101: The Basics You Need to Get Started


are you sure your campaign is interesting enough? You may get a few clicks out of loyalty but if it’s not cool enough they will click away, bored. Yes, even your mom.

~ Mickie E. Kennedy

Crowdfunding is a way for people to help finance projects, business or ideas by pledging money to a specific project - from very small amounts such as $1 to large amounts, even exceeding $1,000,000. Typically crowdfunding is conducted on the internet, using websites and social media so the campaign is publicized and shared by supporters. Investors receive some kind of unique perk or exclusive benefit for supporting your project. Crowdfunding projects have a specific fundraising goal, and a deadline to achieve that goal.

There are now crowdfunding websites to help you raise funds and publicize your project, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo or Angel List. You can raise awareness and raise funds using friends, colleagues, families, investors and complete strangers as donors, brand ambassadors, and PR!

Crowdfunding isn't a new idea: think back to all the projects in your community where someone raised funds for a statue, a local park or a new fire engine. What's new about crowdfunding is the use of the internet to expand your fundraising reach beyond your community: to complete strangers!

Who can use crowdfunding? In short, almost anyone!

  • entrepreneurs: inventors, video game and app developers
  • small businesses: fashion lines, coffee shops, real estate
  • nonprofits: new services, projects or staff, healthcare or social causes
  • individuals: students, scientists and researchers, Olympic athletes
  • artists: writers, filmmakers,  musicians
  • communities: schools, towns, sports groups

Crowdfunding has had many incredible successes: and some spectacular failures. Before you launch a crowdfunding campaign, know the basics about crowdfunding so you understand what crowdfunding can do for your organization: and if its the right choice for you!

Crowdfunding Tips to Get You Started

1. Pick the right project to crowdfund

Crowdfunding has been used to launch everything from movies to toys to software to rock-band tours! Projects might have goals as low as $100 to launch for example an e-book, or millions to launch a movie (think the recent Veronica Mars movie: funded via Kickstarter!)

2.  Choose the appropriate crowdfunding platform

In the last few years, crowdfunding platforms have started to help people build and share their money raising campaign. Some sites are better than others, not all sites work in all countries, and not all platforms work for all types of campaigns. Do your homework: A platform that doesn't operate in Europe may not be the best choice if that's where most of your customers are!

3.  Dedicate time and resources to your crowdfunding campaign

Your fundraising campaign strategy must include the time to market and promote your campaign, and the resources to make your campaign interesting and compelling. A tweet a day isn't going to cut it: you need to develop a way to share your campaign with those people most likely to be interested. You need to thank and encourage your investors. Ways to attract notice and get people excited about your project - and want to fund you - include

  • graphics
  • video
  • attractive incentives for funders
  • social media campaign
  • press releases and publicity

Your crowdfunding campaign strategy must budget money, time, and people to make the campaign a success: use your campaign as an opportunity to build awareness, as well as to fund your project. A fully-funded new online magazine has a stronger chance to be a success if your project attracts thousands of new subscribers!

4.  What are the fees, and what if your campaign doesn't meet its goals?

A project must have a fundraising goal. Most crowdfunding platforms charge a percentage of any funds you raise, so be sure to build that amount into your crowdfunding goal. Some platforms award you all the money raised: others allow you to collect pledged money only if you reach your project goal.

5. Make sure your crowdfunding goal is the right amount

When you achieve your crowdfunding goal - and pay any fees - do you have enough money to actually launch your project? Is your goal so high that any knowledgeable investor would know that you padded the numbers? Set realistic goals that will support your program, and that will withstand investigation for an increasingly savvy public.

Crowdfunding is an excellent opportunity for you to raise funds and awareness for your project. But crowdfunding isn't right for every business, or for every project. Ask questions, consult people who've used crowdfunding, and read online about campaigns both that succeeded and failed to find out if crowdfunding is right for you.

For More Info on Crowdfunding
Business News Daily: What is Crowdfunding?
Entrepreneur: 10 Top Crowdfunding Sites