Nancy Herther, Librarian at the University of Minnesota, presented a overview of how libraries and researchers are using crowdfunding to raise funds. Crowdfunding is a new tool available to us; we are in a new era of philanthropy. Collaboration is occurring everywhere, and we are crowdsharing to develop a new sense of community. (A 12-page PDF reviewing basic data is available here.)
Crowdfunding is still in its formative stages and is not regulated for individuals at present. For smaller communities, crowdfunding as a source of funds is a key factor. Many government agencies are currently providing funds to communities; educational organizations are having their budgets slashed. In this new environment, we must get people to realize that they will have to raise funds themselves.
Here is a definition of crowdfunding.
The industry is expected to grow to over $300 billion by 2025. There are several types of crowdfunding: equity, donation-based, and reward-based.
What makes a compelling campaign?
It is important to complete every field on the application. You definitely should have a project with an attainable goal. Pictures and video are key. Emotional response will motivate people who believe in the cause to donate. Offering thank you gifts reduces altruism and increases donations.
It is good to start with your own internal network in promoting your campaign. Keep track of all your contacts for solicitations, and approach local groups, foundations, and societies. Use websites, newsletters, and other forms of communication to get tied into the community. Do background research and brainstorm compelling ideas for the use of the money you hope to raise. Do an environmental scan to find out what else is going on; chat with other people about what they are doing. What is it about your proposal that makes it compelling? Virtually every college and university in the U.S. has a crowdfunding platform. Everybody needs money, and to be successful, you need to formulate a clear vision of your ultimate goals. The “sell” is the goal, not the process or the various elements of the plan.