Crowdfunding 101: What It is, Why it Matters, and How to Choose the Right Platform

Crowdfunding 101

Crowdfunding is a phrase we’re hearing more and more, so we thought it would make sense to do a post on the who, what, where, when, and why around this popular topic. Let’s get to it.

What, exactly, is crowdfunding?
One of the best visual examples we can offer is this: you know that scene at the end of the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life where all of George Bailey’s friends and family show up at his house on Christmas Eve and offer money (thanks to a call made by George’s wife) to help save him from the evil Mr. Potter? That’s crowdfunding at work.

Crowdfunding is when a group of people collectively pool their money to support a specific endeavor. It could be a business endeavor (e.g. funding the manufacturing of a new product), a creative endeavor (funding a film), or charitable endeavor (funding a nonprofit’s specific need, like a new roof on a soup kitchen). Monetary donations can range from small, like one dollar, all the way up into the thousands.

On crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, the person or organization creating the campaign sets a monetary goal and deadline (such as one month). If the monetary goal is met, the endeavor (whatever it is) moves forward. If the monetary goal isn’t met, then the endeavor *usually* doesn’t happen (and donors aren’t charged). The crowdfunding site *usually* gets a percentage of the funds raised IF the campaign is successfully funded and moves forward. We say “usually” because other crowdfunding platforms do exist that employ different models, such as a personal “stake” in the venture in exchange for funds. Bottom line: before choosing a crowdfunding platform, it’s important to understand the model it’s using. Always read the fine print. Continue reading “Crowdfunding 101: What It is, Why it Matters, and How to Choose the Right Platform”

5 Awesome Promotional Products for Walk-a-thons & Road Races

As the summer comes to an end, preparations for fall walk-a-thons and road races go into high gear, like those that are organized for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Here are six awesome promotional products to stock up on now.

1. Breast Cancer Awareness Products. From pins to bracelets to everything in between (like the pink ribbon white visor pictured below), Amsterdam Printing has plenty to choose from.

2. Stainless Steel Water Bottles. Encourage participants to stay hydrated and promote your cause at the same time with these ergonomic water bottles. The extra wide neck makes it easy to add ice cubes, too. Continue reading “5 Awesome Promotional Products for Walk-a-thons & Road Races”

How to Plan Special Events – Part 2: Ten Pitfalls to Avoid

Earlier this week, we talked about how to plan special events and the 10 questions you should ask yourself to get started. Now, let’s talk about 10 pitfalls to avoid.

1. Not being realistic about how much an event costs. Unless you’ve recently planned an event, it’s easy to experience sticker shock. While we recommend having a budget in mind before you start any planning, this may be difficult to do if you have no idea what things cost. We recommend talking to two to three potential venues to find out a typical cost per person for food and beverage, which is one of the largest expenses, as well as entertainment, décor, and venue rental. From there, you’ll be able define your budget.

2. Not having focus. You need to have an established purpose for the event (e.g. charity event vs. networking event), reasonable expectations, and the ability to measure outcomes. Are you raising awareness, raising money, building your brand, thanking employees, appreciating customers, or something else? Don’t have an event “just because.” Have a specific goal/purpose and organize the event around this purpose.

3. Not being aware of “minimums” in the fine print. Many large venues have minimums for food and beverage, which does not include tax, gratuity, and fees. So even though you think you can get by with a small menu, it might not be possible at that venue. If you plan to do a cash bar, you should confirm with the venue that the proceeds of the cash bar can work against your minimum. Continue reading “How to Plan Special Events – Part 2: Ten Pitfalls to Avoid”

7 Fresh Fundraising Ideas for Fall

Fundraising - Raffle
Photo by Catholic United financial

Fall is a terrific time for fundraisers—right between the lazy days of summer and the frenzy of the holidays. If your non-profit’s fundraising strategy needs a bit of a shakeup, you might want to give these fresh ideas a try:

  1. Try a fundraising event that requires little or no investment, like a car wash or yard cleanups around the neighborhood.
  2. Consider selling items that consumers buy anyway, like candles, chocolate, or holiday wrapping paper (it’s never too early!).
  3. Organize a raffle for a high-value item, like an iPad or a TV. You could even ask a local vendor to donate a prize in exchange for advertising. For a more integrated campaign, consider giving away custom stylus pens with that vendor’s logo (which are perfect for use with an iPad)!
  4. Take advantage of the beautiful fall weather by organizing a fun run or walk and charge an entrance fee. Offer entrants custom t-shirts or caps to make sure everyone who sees them knows which cause they’re walking for!  Continue reading “7 Fresh Fundraising Ideas for Fall”