Guest blog post by the talented Fiona Ashe award-winning film director & screenwriter. Created for the annual CongRegation social media un-conference in Cong.

“Give and you shall receive” is an age-old adage, which is relevant to the practice of crowdfunding in more ways than one. Supporters contribute to projects to help them move to the next stage or achieve completion. These givers receive in return a reward/incentive – as well as a warm and fuzzy feeling – for aiding the advancement of (often cultural) projects which may not be realised without such generosity.

The “Give and you shall receive” principle is also a valuable mindset for those running crowdfunding campaigns. With more and more crowdfunding campaigns being launched, the competition for those precious dollars is intense. So crowdfunders, try this: put yourselves in the mind of your online contacts whose inboxes contain copious crowdfunding requests.

Now imagine how it feels to have every email asking for something. In particular, how do you (inhabiting the potential funder’s persona) feel about requests (sometimes badly phrased as demands) from crowdfunders to whom you are connected through a social network but with whom you have had no direct contact? In the offline world, how would you would feel if an acquaintance you had met in the lift a few times suddenly asked you for money? Wouldn’t you be more likely to hand over the cash if they had developed a relationship with you and given you something first – even if it was just a cup of coffee!

How do you feel when someone gives you something? The majority of people feel a desire to give something back. So this is an effective strategy in the planning stages of your crowdfunding strategy. Okay, so you can’t give everyone a cup of coffee. It doesn’t travel well in the post! But you could share other people’s content, endorse their projects or contribute to their campaigns. This goes a long way to building goodwill, which will elevate the chances of success of your crowdfunding campaign.

There’s nothing less convincing than desperation, so whatever you do, don’t plead. Please don’t plead! Instead, stay in the giving mindset, identify the benefits to your supporters and promote these benefits in your updates.

Now hop back into the mind of a potential funder. What are the criteria you use to decide which projects to support? Sometimes contributors want to support the person who is crowdfunding and buy into their passion. This is true of the projects that I have supported. On the other hand, it can be the project itself which makes people dig deep into their pockets. I recently met someone whose top incentive was priced at $5,000. Out of the blue, someone she didn’t know contacted her to ask how to contribute $10,000!

That situation is a crowdfunder’s dream. But it is all too rare for cultural projects. Some quirky ideas, on the other hand, have generated huge success. On Kickstarter, Zack ‘Danger’ Brown launched a campaign to raise $10 to make a potato salad. The result? $55,492! But not everyone is happy. Many people are outraged, claiming that this makes a mockery of crowdfunding and devalues worthier uses for the cash, especially in the context of unsuccessful campaigns to raise money for cancer treatments, for example.

This case study generates the question about whether there should be criteria for what kind of projects should be eligible for crowdfunding. What do you think? Also, do you feel a sense of crowdfunding fatigue? If so, is that due to the number of campaigns or how they are presented? How would you like to see crowdfunding evolve? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

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