Crowdfunding for charity? A blog for International Women's Day

Posted: Fri, 08 March 2013 by Hannah

Can you crowdfund for charity?


 Yes and it works! Just ask Hannah Stansfield.

Why not hear all about Hannah's charity projects in Bloom’s Q & A with this sucessful charity crowdfunder.

Q: How did crowdfunding work from the point of view of a charity

 A: “Crowdfunding was a great tool to fund raise for ‘The Egypt Horse Project’ and ‘Janet's Wadi’  as you can easily track how much you've already raised, how many people you reach and how much money there is left to raise. It's also a great visual aid for supporters as they can actively view updates on the project and see how their funds are contributing to reach the target. It gives a great sense of family, when everyone comes together as the crowd to support a project and it’s a great way of researching to see what people think of your idea. Projects such as the ‘Saddle Pad Project’ and ‘Feeding Dahab's Dogs’ have really connected emotionally with many hearts and left people feeling compelled to support and make a donation or ‘promise.

"Crowdfunding is a great tool to help charities get a lump of cash in a relatively short space of time - on our own it may take several months to locate funding for one project, however,with the networking ability and versatil ity of a crowdfunding project you can reach a lot more people than you could possibly hope to just through your website or even on social media.”

Q: What did you try previously to raise funds?

A: “In the past we've run donation drives through the Facebook page and website, which when people understand what the project's aims are they work reasonably well - when you throw a more complex topic at people through social networking the aims and targets can easily get lost, and you end up spending more time answering the same questions posted by lots of different supporters than being able to concentrate on what's important. We had also tried a PayPal widget that actually looks quite similar to Bloom's project widget, however it did not attract much attention - possibly because it had little or no connection to anything else and was really just there for the sake of it!

"As of yet, we don't have much of a physical presence in the UK - I can't yet drive, so attending local fayres and fetes can be extremely difficult -  so it has been important for us to build support for the charity through the internet. It's scary to think that just a decade or so ago we would not have had all of these tools to help us this way and it's likely the charity would not have been able to set up so quickly and effectively.

Q: How did crowdfunding compare to the other types of fundraising that you had previously tried?

A: “Crowdfunding has been good in terms of reaching people we would not ordinarily be able to approach, as well as giving us an easier way of tracking funds coming in. Very often we have funds appearing in our bank account or PayPal account with no description as to what it should be spent on, but because we receive the money from a crowdfunding project almost simultaneously it is very easy to see what they are for. Although there are fees involved with using a crowdfunder, this isn't something that should put you off - all you need to do is add the fee amount on top of your project target, so that in effect the project pays for itself.

Q: If you did not crowdfund how would you have raised funds?

A: “I think we really would have struggled to raise the funds in such a short space of time and for the most part I think we would have had to rely on our 'regular' donators to give a little each month towards specific projects. The issue with this is that it is down to personal taste - if a long term supporter does not like a project we are working on, then they are unlikely to donate towards it and so there is the issue that we must somehow find new supporters who like the idea of our each project and are in a position to donate. It can sometimes be extremely difficult to find people who meet these criteria, and so crowdfunding has given us a way to introduce ourselves to a new section of people who are interested in our project and are in a position to donate.”

 Q: What has been your experience of crowdfunding?

A: ”I have so far - touch wood! - had a good experience crowdfunding. My crowdfunding platform of choice - Bloom - has been very helpful with setting up all of the projects and seeing them through to the end. The staff are lovely and very easy to talk to, they freely give advice to help make your project a success. Some projects have been unsuccessful, but more than anything I put that down to my own fault - either the project doesn't appeal to enough people or for whatever reason I can't share it with enough of the right people to make it viable. Being young it has certainly been a learning curve for me - figuring out what works and what doesn't, which rewards for promises are popular etc - but I think it all has broadened my experience and fund raising skills (which can't be a bad thing when you're operating a charity!).

Q: Women are said to be more focused, natural relationship builders and are generally more engaged, do you think this is true and have your natural skills and qualities helped you with your crowdfunding project?

A: ”
Personally, I would have to disagree, not because I think women/men are better in one sense or another, but knowing myself unless I am entirely passionate about a topic or project I am unlikely to be focussed on it! My best advice for other women wanting to crowdfund is make sure it is something you are wholeheartedly interested and invested in. 60 days of trying to promote a project you're not entirely set on gets a little degrading and disheartening if it isn't successful. When you have an idea or project you really love, you want it to succeed and you will push through come hail or high water, to see it to the end – this passion will not only reflect how many people you reach with information on your project, but the tone of your posting will certainly be different!

"Naturally, I am rubbish at asking people for money - I dislike being a burden and don't want to pester people, so for me the project has to be truly important to get me enthusiastic about it. For instance ‘The Saddle Pad Project’ was something that I felt people would be willing to give up their coffee for a week to promise towards, because the animals and owners affected are truly more helpless than we are in developed countries. The same went for ‘Feeding Dahab's Dogs’ – Janet's Wadi is a charity in Dahab run by an English lady, who is entirely selfless in her efforts to save street dogs and get them out of danger. If it can make people stop and re-evaluate the way they are living in comparison, you're on to a winner. More than anything, I believe crowdfunding has helped me to develop more skills or uncover skills I hadn't yet realised.”

Q: Would you crowdfund again?

A: “Between myself and the other operators of The Egypt Horse Project’ we are actually putting together an exciting new project following on from the ‘Saddle Pad Project’. It's an exciting time and I am glad to say yes, we will be crowdfunding again and possibly for the foreseeable future!”

Thanks Hannah, for sharing your insight to crowdfunding from a charity point of view!

Hannah’s next crowdfunding campaign launches today, and we are looking forward to another success! Check it out here, and why not make a promise ...