Last week, The Agitator posted an article in response to The Wall Street Journal’s article on ‘niche crowdfunding’. The Agitator and commenters raise valid points about the legitimacy of crowdfunding sites, though this is not the point that I’m going address.
I’d like to address a particular comment from a reader. I’ve broken the comment down into bite sized pieces. Anything in quotation marks is the commenter’s own words.
Here’s my feeling: with the recent explosion of micro-finance sites[...]there becomes a flood of opportunity for do-gooders to provide their “support” to an array of causes across the world. Sounds nice right?
Why is support in quotation marks? People who help fund and spread the word about projects that matter to them are really supporting them; they are not “supporting” (read: not real support) them.
What I want to know is this, what kind of retention rates do these online financiers [crowdfunding sites] offer to the organizations they are funding?
It is not the crowdfunding sites’ responsibility to retain donors for organizations, though each crowdfunding site will have its own fans. Furthermore, with Fundchange, organizations that use our service have all of their donors’ information. The platform may be a starting point for building relationships between the organization and donors. Ultimately, what organizations choose to do with donors in an attempt to retain them is up to the organization.
If scores of small donations come in to small organizations through these sites, the small organizations are going to get excited and thus craft fundraising campaigns to continue to garner support and more of it…but is that all for nothing?
No; if something works, it is not all for nothing.
Additionally, for non-profits who value the holy unrestricted dollar, do we really want to be encouraging restricted funding for small projects?
Sometimes, we have to put our own desires on the back burner and look at raising money from our donors’ perspectives. Raising money for a specific project is desirable for donors because it allows people to know exactly where their money is going. Crowdfunding a specific project allows donors to feel a sense of ownership over a said project. This leads to commitment and excitement to see the project through to the end.
Do we really want to track those dollars in a micro sense and then provide detailed micro reports on them to steward the gift? Seems like this is a recipe for creating a mountain of unnecessary work at a time when internal staff resources are already tight and gift stewardship is already lackluster. Why set the bar even lower?
The cool thing about crowdfunding is that these “micro reports” can take on many forms. A quick status update, a tweet, a picture or a video can be all it takes to keep donors informed about the status of the project. Crowdfunders don’t really want a dry micro-report, they just want to know how their project is doing.
I really don’t think crowdfunding is “setting the bar lower” at all. Organizations should be raising their bar as donors’ expectations are rising. Organizations should be giving updates about how donor dollars are used.
As a donor, I want to know how my money is being put to use, how it’s making a difference. If you don’t tell me, I won’t know that it’s making a difference, and I probably won’t give again. I want to give my money to something that will make a difference. So show me how you use it, and I’ll give you more, more often.
If you have used crowdfunding, what do you think of this post?