DIY crowdfunding and people-powered projects

6 september, 2018

In the build-up to the third SIC Relay, Laura Whittall, Research Officer at The Young Foundation, shares her personal experience of DIY crowdfunding for grassroots projects.

This blog was originally published at the website of the Social Innovation Community.

Fundraising for any kind of project is always seen as a necessary evil to get ideas off the ground. Once that is done then the real interesting stuff can happen. After a few failed attempts of getting funds together for a project that I was trying pursue in my local community, I was beginning to lose hope that anything would happen.

But one day, I was speaking to someone about using crowdfunding platforms and it made me realise that I had been going about funding in the wrong way. My experience up until then had been about treating fundraising like you do when someone needs sponsorship for running a marathon or climbing a mountain for charity; send a link for donations and continue to keep sending in the hope that people will contribute.

However for grassroots projects and setting up something that is not yet established, it is a whole different ball game. You have to take a DIY approach and sell an idea right from the very beginning to get people invested in what you are trying to achieve. By doing this funding becomes something much more powerful than just getting money together; in my experience it provides a process for building people-powered projects through developing a strong base of supporters who can contribute and support your project right from the very beginning.

My 3 tips to get started with DIY crowdfunding:

  • Promote a concept not a funding amount If you are looking to provide a product or an activity, look beyond what the thing is to what you actually want to achieve with it. For example, a community cinema project is more than just about film screenings but about bringing local people together. Communicating this ambition will widen interest and strengthen engagement. Making this idea participatory can also help build stronger support such as events, in digital and physical places, where people can contribute to the project and its development.
  • Be creative and take inspiration from everywhere. With little resource you often have to get creative and use your imagination when developing a crowdfunding campaign. Use free digital tools such as website platforms or social media to create visibility and momentum around your project. Instagram can be an effective way of engaging people in your fundraising journey.
  • Talk to people and see your community as a partner. Get as many different partners on board and develop a network of local support around your campaign. Talk to people in your local community, from current project leaders to businesses who may be able to provide guidance and incentives for your crowdfunding campaign. For example, a local printing business provided t-shirts for rewarding funders for my community kitchen idea and a local restaurant put on food and film screenings for high-value contributors.

Are you interested to know more about crowdfunding and put it into action? SIC’s free-of-charge Crowdfunding Relay will help lower the barrier and inspire you to get started.

Learn more by joining SIC’s free of charge Crowdfunding Learning Relay!

Our SIC Relay kicks off with an online meet-up on the 11th of September and a full day workshop on the 21st of September in the city of London. During the workshop we will team up with crowdfunding experts from Nesta and KiDesign and inspiring social innovators from The Young Foundation to offer you an inspiring day of learning and exchange on the topic of crowdfunding for social innovation.

You bring in a learning question around the topic of crowdfunding and -if applicable- a project you want to crowdfund. We will provide a fertile ground for you to boost your knowledge in this area and learn from and with the other participants to move your initiative a step further. Are you interested in exploring or further developing crowdfunding actions for your work in an inspiring, peer-2-peer learning journey?

Apply now!