In a social media age when Hollywood indiscretions and cat videos go viral faster than little Billy’s flu-infused sneeze, it’s sometimes hard to imagine that there’s a very meaningful silver lining in the social media malaise.
Not all is lost on the “interwebs!”
One great example is crowdfunding. It has become a vital source of charitable donations for families who’ve suffered tragedies, people who have mountains of medical bills or for social opportunities like meeting the astronomical needs of rescued animals, ecological disasters or ongoing environmental concerns.
But, where to begin? It can be confusing, complicated and unnerving—the last thing you need when facing life’s most stressful moments.
Following are a few hints and highlights as you navigate chaos and concern. We’ll only skim the surface, so be ready to go deeper to address the needs specific to your vital cause.
First, know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. You can’t just “help Jane” or “fight for Fido.” You’ll need to be crisp and clear about what Jane needs or just how fighting for Fido will make a difference in the world. Jot down succinct bullet points that are full of easy to understand, easy to navigate information. You’ll need this data when it’s time to publish your request.
Next, select a crowdfunding “platform.” You’ve likely heard some of the big ones: GoFundMe, Kickstarter, Indiegogo…the list goes on. Right away, there are so many choices. If you’re like me, too many choices can feel daunting. Hang in there.
One thing you can do to narrow down your options is to specifically do a search for crowdfunding platforms that are best equipped to help you with the cause you’re trying to fund. There are platforms best suited to non-profit, personal and specific-cause fundraising. Google is your friend. Search for your issue and what platform has worked best for that issue. One recent article on CrowdCrux.com, for example, discussed six platforms that were best suited to personal cause fundraising: GoFundMe, Indiegogo, FunAnything, GiveForward, YouCaring and Rally.org.
Third, be unashamed and unquestionably precise in your request for what is needed. Did your grandfather’s kidney transplant leave the family with nightmarish six-figure medical bills, an empty bank account, no transportation and a second mortgage? You’ll have to be realistic. Should you flood your potential donors with the full financial story and hope for the best, or would you be better served by a laser-sharp focus on the most compelling need of all? You can’t stumble into a crowdfunding campaign and be vague about the need. It has to be precise, clear and trustworthy for it to produce the results that you need.
Finally, bring your story to life on the platform. If you’re not good at making a compelling ask, you’ll need help turning those data-filled bullet points and boring spreadsheets into something magical—something that makes people believe in the power of sharing what you’re dreaming to accomplish. Don’t try to do this alone. Have several trusted friends balance your skill-set and provide much needed perspective.
You’ve heard it before. Less is more. Be clear and concise. People give with their hearts, not their heads. The truisms are aplenty, but they’re basically spot on. Most people want to help others. They want to invest in something worthwhile and noble. They want to make a difference. Present your need in ways that connect needs and opportunities. Don’t beg. Don’t sell. Tell a story—your story, the story of a kindhearted human being who cares deeply about a compelling need—a need that must be met, and that when met, will make all the difference in the world.
Richard Singleton, MACE, MAMFC, LPC, is the executive director at STARRY in Round Rock.