Understanding Crowdfunding for The Black Community

What Is Crowdfunding

The passing of President Obama’s JOBS Act in April 2012 ushered in crowdfunding as the word of the day. While this concept has arguably been around for centuries, it is still formally recognized as a new industry to many consumers, particularly those outside the United States. Crowdfunding is, by definition, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”  

Why Crowdfunding Developed

There is a seemingly nonstop global recession, and small businesses are struggling more than ever to stay afloat, and entrepreneurs are facing terrible odds.  Small businesses finding capital for expansion from the banking industry has been unfeasible for the last seven years, and startups finding the needed funding in the more traditional venues of Angel Investors or VCs seems to be impossible. But, in this financial environment Crowdfunding offers these individuals an increased probability of success by showcasing their businesses and projects to the entire world via the Internet and social media.

How Crowdfunding Works

There are numerous crowdfunding platforms where consumers can safely ask for or donate money. While each site offers their unique culture, the general concept is the same across the board. Project creators can create a profile typically containing a short video, an introduction to their project, a list of rewards per donation, and some text and images to elaborate. The idea is to create a compelling message that will resonate with the readers.

Why Crowdfunding Works

The idea of “it’s not what you do, but why you do it,” is the message that drives crowdfunding. By focusing on a bigger purpose, the impact of a brand or project will be able to create a unique community of like-minded individuals. Each campaign is set for a goal (a publicly stated amount of money) and a fixed number of days. Once the project is launched, each day will be counted down and the money raised will be tallied up for visitors to follow its success.

How It Works in Practice

 

Instead of traditional investors, crowdfunding campaigns are funded by the general public. Typically, most successful projects receive about 25-40% of their revenue from their first, second and third degree of connections. This could include friends, family, work acquaintances, or anyone that the owner is connected to, including their second and third-degree connections. Once a project has seen some traction, unrelated consumers start coming out of the woodwork to support campaigns they believe in. There is a huge misconception that creating a successful crowdfunding campaign is as simple as hitting submit and waiting for it to go viral. While this has happened to many brands, the vast majority of projects require an immense amount of marketing and management skill and phenomenal effort on the part of the project creator. Utilizing social media, creating email distribution lists before the project launches, contacting local media, are all necessary steps to take if you are serious about your goal. Remember, this is not a platform to ask for a handout. If you expect people to join your cause, you had better be prepared to prove your salt.