Saturday, 9 January 2016

What is Crowdfunding and Will it Answer all of my Prayers?

My Curiosity
Over the past couple of years, I have read many articles promoting Crowd Funder and similar sites for fundraising for business and community ventures. For example, there was an article in the Telegraph in November 2013 which explained which crowd funding website to use, depending on the type of project you intended on raising funds for. You can find the article from the Telegraph here.

What is Crowdfunding?
If you are familiar with the concept of Just Giving, Virgin Money Giving Local Giving, etc. , crowd funding is very similar. For those of you who have not heard of JustGiving et. they are fundraising websites where you can create a page for people to sponsor you. Not only does it allow people to sponsor you in a more convenient way, but it is also more secure as the money usually goes straight to your chosen charity. This option is also far less invasive than the traditional methods of fundraising by shaking a bucket or knocking neighbours doors. It also allows you to discuss your fundraising in a greater depth and you can provide updates and pictures for your sponsors. 

The only negative is that these websites usually charge a small handling fee, which is not exactly unreasonable. After all, they need to make money too. I have previous experience of using Just Giving after raising funds for Anthony Nolan in 2014. I decided to encourage people to sponsor me to raise awareness of the charity when I donated stem cells to an anonymous recipient in July 2014. I found this method of fundraising convenient to use during a time where my time was exceptionally limited. Using an hour of my time to set up the page allowed me to raise £186 for Anthony Nolan. I would not have had the time to raise this money at such short notice without the use of Just Giving. Therefore Just Giving has a huge thumbs up from me!

So for those of you who are yet to discover the world of crowdfunding, let me explain it briefly to you. It is very similar to websites like Just Giving. However, instead of just raising sponsorship money for your chosen charity, you can also raise money for your chosen project or business venture. You can use crowdfunding campaigns to support community projects or increasing the size of your business. In fact, I had even heard of law students successfully raising funds towards their tuition fees or to fund overseas internships.

You can choose whether to give people something in exchange for their money such as shares in your business or you can agree to do something for the greater good of the community. This may include campaigning or providing a service such as a youth club or mobility service for the elderly. The options are probably only limited by your imagination. You can also choose whether you accept all money raised or only the full amount if you successfully reach your full target. Your backers will only be charged when your fundraising ends, rather than being charged immediately, like most other fundraising options.

My Motivation for Finally Trying Crowdfunding
For some time, I have been considering using crowdfunding but I was not really sure about how it worked and had limited free time to satisfy my curiosity. I was finally persuaded by Habib Rahman, the brains behind the #IAmAMigrant Campaign, which was successfully funded through crowdfunding at the beginning of 2015. I had the honour of meeting Mr Rahman in July 2015 at Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council AGM. Talking to him inspired me that it was worth trying.

Setting Up My Crowdfunding Campaign
In August 2015, I finally had some free time to put crowdfunding to the test. With only a month to find £6,000  towards my 17,000 BPTC course fees I decided to see if I could raise any of this on crowdfunding. If successful it could be the answer to all of my prayers as I really did not know how I was going to raise the final £6,ooo of my fees in only four weeks.

It took me a couple of hours to set up my Crowd Funder page and to add my payment details etc. All that was left to do was to get one backer to activate my campaign. I decided to add £1 myself to activate it swiftly so I could start sharing it and encourage sponsors to donate. I then spent my spare time promoting my campaign to friends and family via social media, while observing my campaign page with great anticipation.

BPTC Crowdfunding Campaigns
While my crowdfunding project was active I noticed that another City Law School BPTC student was also fundraising towards her course fees. She was asking for £12,000 after securing a £5,000 scholarship. In fact, she had secured the same scholarship that I had been awarded in 2014. I am unsure how much she raised in the end but when I looked at her page during the first few days of her campaign she had raised hundreds which is pretty impressive when there is no financial risk.

My Crowdfunding Outcome
Moving back to my first attempt of crowdfunding. I managed to raise £155 in 28 days with seven backers. While admittedly it was nowhere near my goal of £6,000, I was still impressed. I really appreciate the financial assistance. The fact that some of my friends and family had enough confidence in me successfully completing my course was really motivating. Particularly considering the fact that some of the people who made donations are on low incomes. I had been tempted to defer my second year of the BPTC for a year to raise more funds. However, crowdfunding donations gave me the motivation to keep going and to work full time alongside the course.

Nevertheless, I do feel that I could have made my campaign even more successful by sharing it with more people. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I only had enough time to share my fundraising page around four times on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I did not make any other attempts to encourage sponsorships. Therefore, I would suggest to anyone serious about raising funds through crowdfunding to dedicate time to informing as many people as possible that they know about their campaign. You are much more likely to raise a reasonable amount then.

Would I Crowdfund Again?
Crowdfunding is definitely something I would consider using again. There a few community projects that I am interested in setting up over the next few years so I might give crowdfunding a second attempt shortly for the greater good of the local community. I think that I would feel more comfortable promoting a crowdfunding campaign that was for a community project/charity, compared to raising funds for myself. Personally, I felt a bit uncomfortable asking people to support me. However, I would be a lot more active in promoting a campaign that was for the greater good of others.

Good luck to anyone attempting crowdfunding for the first time. I hope it is a great success. Feel free to share your crowdfunding experience with me on Twitter (Siobhan8185).

1 comment:

  1. Actually, We all should know what is crowd fund raising.It will let us know its importance towards people and also will help raising more funds.