(This is a guest post from my friend Taylor Gahm. He has worked on and studied thousands of crowdfunding campaigns. Most fail, here’s a few thoughts on why yours might not.)
Crowdfunding is a great way to raise funds for your next project, idea, start up, charity, or cause. But despite what many think, crowdfunding is not found money.
I can’t tell you how many of my clients think millions of people wake up everyday and comb through IndieGoGo or Kickstarter looking for campaigns they can donate to while sipping their morning coffee.
Or how many of my clients think their crowdfunding campaign will magically go viral. For every campaign that goes viral there are countless campaigns that don’t raise a single dollar. The odds of your crowdfunding campaign going viral are about the same as your chances of winning the lottery. (If you have to choose, I say go for the lottery ticket. It’s easier than setting up a crowdfunding campaign and provides a comparable dose of false hope!)
Do complete strangers really make contributions to campaigns/campaigners they don’t personally know? Of course they do. But it’s almost always when a campaign is either raising funds for a shared interest, or a novel cause that invites others into a bigger story.
One of my favorite examples of a crowdfunding campaign that successfully invited others into a bigger story was for Karen Huff. After an internet video of this sweet, 68 year-old bus monitor getting verbally assaulted by middle school students went viral, a good Samaritan started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $5,000 to send Karen on a vacation.
$703,168 and 32,251 individual donors later, Karen had received more than just a vacation!
Why did this campaign raise so much money? And why did people continue to give well beyond the $5,000 goal? Watch the original video and you’ll get an idea why. Over thirty thousand decent human beings felt the injustice of what happened to Karen and couldn’t help but to be a part of ‘righting’ such a terrible wrong. And as the amount snowballed beyond the original goal I imagine people felt an incredible satisfaction from participating in completely changing someone’s life beyond belief. What a story!
I think deep down we all want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to know we fit into a bigger story.
If you are raising money or support, try inviting others into a bigger story. Nobody wants to help you raise $25,000 to fulfill your self-centered dream of moving to L.A. to get discovered, or to buy that new sports car you’ve always wanted.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to move to L.A. or buying a new car, but if you expect people to part with their hard earned cash you have to invite them into a much bigger story.
Are you moving to L.A. because you have six months to live? Do you need a new car because yours was totaled in a high speed chase as a result of you saving someones life? Put me down for twenty bucks because those are stories I want to be a part of!