Why first time crowdfunders should think before they leap

At the launch of The Crowdfunding Academy last month, we gave over 70 non-profit fundraisers, campaigners and CEOs a taste of our Expert Practitioners’ Course, launching on 10th November.

With only a couple of hours to give them a taste of four days’ worth of content, we thought long and hard about what to focus on.  We stayed clear of choosing a platform as, although it seems to be the received wisdom that this is the first thing to do, we maintain it’s some way down the track. Instead, we focused on challenging myths and started the session with the real first step - making the business case.  We're glad we did, as it proved to be one of the most popular topics.

Hang on though, it's simple isn’t it?  The business case is that crowdfunding will enable you to raise more money, more quickly and cheaply?

Well, it could be - if you’re looking for a simple case for persuading your cause to just give crowdfunding a go.  After all, one of Nesta’s key recommendations from the Crowdfunding Good Causes report was that more organisations should try to set up at least one small crowdfunding campaign to overcome risk aversion.

We’re all for test and learn.  One of the great things about crowdfunding is that the production costs are relatively low, compared to direct mail for example, which reduces the financial risk.  But we do think your tests need to be well planned, properly resourced and intelligently evaluated against a broader set of goals.  Nesta also recommend that causes should explore how they can make the most of the non-financial as well as the financial benefits of crowdfunding and the chances are that, if you think more holistically about the case for crowdfunding at the outset:

  1. your test campaign is more likely to reach its target, because you've been clear on what crowdfunding can, and can’t do for your cause
  2. you’ll realise the value for campaigning, volunteering and programme development - as well as fundraising

  3. you're more likely to choose a platform that meets your needs

  4. you’ll stimulate some aspirational, transformative thinking about what digitally enabled, relationship based fundraising could do for your cause

The business case will look different for every cause.  But there are some good questions you can ask to get to work out what crowdfunding can really do for you, and think about who needs to be involved and the resources you’ll need to make it happen.

We’ve shared some of our favourite questions here.

We hope they help you to have good conversations about crowdfunding with colleagues and Trustees and be clear about why it’s worth developing as part of the mainstream fundraising and engagement mix.

Building the Business Case is one of the topics at Crowdfunding 101, the first module of The Crowdfunding Academy’s Expert Practitioner Course, starting 10th November.  If you’d like to join a growing community of crowdfunding experts, then please email us at hello@thecrowdfundingacademy.org  We’d be happy to talk to help you work out if the course is right for you and your cause.

We'll also be speaking about building the business case at Crowdfest on Wednesday 19th October.