There are indeed promising merits to the “crowd funding” concept, and I trust you will pick up along the way helpful advice from successful applications of the program.
I thought that I would craft my comments having in mind those other good folks here reading what may be a new concept to them---what your post suggests as the possibility that you plan to engage in a crowd funding enedavor.
To me, crowd funding is a more of a “marketing” program, if you will, rather than philanthropically-inspired, as the action seeks to fund specific “products” of the type you cited---specific “products” which create a point-of-sale environment, in which a potential donor is easily able to make an impulse buy from his/her available discretionary funds.
They need only to trigger an impulse to “buy.” Of course, this is much different than the traditional way of fund-raising which compels giving to the mission overall---to the concept of the big picture of the institution’s needs---be they for the annual campaign, or for special, major, funding for capital or endowment.
As I see it, crowd funding is about making a small decision to do something good that provides a small and fleeting good feeling for giving a small donation; from someone who otherwise would not give to any other appeal. (We all have many of those on our mailing lists.)
Anyone going the crowd funding route should never expect such funding to even slightly supplant the major donations their organizations need, and need quickly and steadily. Point-of-sale income from crowd funding takes time, effort, and the right vehicle.
It’s important for organizations to know the difference, and not look to crowd funding as a substitute for personally asking the right people at the right time for the right amount to meet an established need, i. e., a major named giving opportunity in a capital campaign. (A nicely “packaged” student affairs or faculty project---not part of the overall development need---would do well.)
When I was consulting over many years, some clients which were operating capital campaigns, for example, thought of looking to direct mail or telefunding---both, of course excellent programs in their place---to steer their campaigns to the finish line looking to those methods to raise most of the money. They had to be convinced otherwise. Crowd funding needs to be understood in that way as well. It is happening again, as I have come to know of some organizations which are looking to crowd funding in the same (erroneous), way to raise big money, instead of asking the fewer for the bigger.
This following observation surely will be controversial, but, I have found that the skills needed for effective and productive crowd funding are more in tune with what a marketing effort does than what a development department has traditionally taken on seeking traditional philanthropic support.
At our Cleveland Orchestra, and following for many years when I was consulting, similar programs to crowd funding, such as securing fee-based memberships, had me insist they were under the management of the marketing departments because they were really marketing individual funding projects. It was fund-raising truly at a retail level where people bought a specific funding project. So, a whole new way of thinking and doing is required when considering a crowd funding program.
The concept of crowd funding, to my way of thinking, is very close to its forerunner, micro-giving and impulse-giving. A colleague and friend, Dave Patterson, has an excellent article on that topic which I feel sure can be a most helpful guide to your possible crowd funding program:
--- Micro Gifts & Impulse Giving Online http://www.raise-funds.com/2011/micro-gifts-impulse-giving-online/
Best fund-raising wishes,
Tony Poderis http://www.raise-funds.com
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