Crowdfunding for Community Groups

A recent conversation with a Canadian-based social movement has gotten some of us at COCo thinking about the potential of crowdfunding.  This funding approach seems particularly relevant to social movements or coalitions that may not be formally set-up as a non-profit or charity and that may be focused on advocacy or direct action which can be difficult to fund through foundations or government programs.  Of course the potential of crowdfunding is not limited to social movements, thousands of non-profits around the world are successfully using crowdfunding to diversify their funding base.

We thought it might be useful to unpack the idea of crowdfunding into some practical considerations to help answer the question: “Should my community group be using crowdfunding?”

What is Crowdfunding: 

NetSquared Vancouver described Crowdfunding as “the pooling of resources by a group in support of a project.”  On a practical level this usually involves creating a project or campaign on a crowdfunding platform such as indiegogo, FundRazr, or other platforms and then encouraging friends, supporters, and the public to contribute funding to the campaign.

Crowdfunding is Growing:

Deloitte Canada (a large Canadian consulting firm) predicts that crowdfunding platforms will double their pledges in 2013 to raise over $3 billion.  Unfortunately most of those billions of dollars are going to business start-ups and entrepreneurs, but non-profit crowdfunding campaigns are bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars.

It’s Not Easy Money – Most Crowdfunding Campaigns Fail:

According to a crowdfunding training offered by NTEN, 2/3 of all crowdfunding campaigns do not meet their goal.  It’s important to be strategic about how you approach your crowdfunding campaign and realistic about the fact that there is no massive crowd of strangers just waiting to give you money.  You will likely pull in some new supporters through a crowdfunding campaign, but many people who donate will already be familiar with your work.  It’s also important to remember that there can be a lot of other benefits to an effective crowdfunding campaign beyond the immediate fundraising goal.  Crowdfunding campaigns can deepen relationships with existing supports, they help get your base excited about a specific aspect of your work, and they can help generally boost the overall visibility of your group.

Not All Crowdfunding Platforms Are Equal:

We may have heard of the big players like Kickstarter and indiegogo, but Kickstarter only supports creative projects based in the US and UK, and indiegogo can take up to 9% of the donations you receive and that’s in addition to payment processing fees.  Fortunately there are many different options to choose from.  Wikipedia lists over 400 options and the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada lists 52 different Canadian platforms including some alternative approaches like SmallChange, Fundweaver, Weeve, and Haircot (located right in Montreal)!

Has Your Group Already Tried a Crowdfunding Campaign?

We would love to hear about your group’s experience with crowdfunding, please leave a comment on this post or email us at info@coco-net.org to share your story.

3 replies
  1. Susan Woodfine says:

    We are looking at Haricot given we are Quebec based but English doc project – not sure if that would be right venue? Plan is to have French subtitles….S

    • admin says:

      Hello Susan,

      Thanks for your question, and our apologies for the delay – your question was lost in a sea of comment spam.

      We have not used haircot.ca ourselves, however based on our research it appears that it is quite easy to create French and English versions of all of your content on haircot.ca However from a quick glance at current projects on Haircot as well as the Facebook and Twitter activity it is clear that the vast majority of the users of the platform are Francophone. So if you are interested in further connecting with a Francophone audience and you have some compelling content on your website, social media, etc.. in French – then this may be a good choice. If not then you may want to look at another alternative like Fundrazr.

      Good luck!

    • Thomas Duperré says:

      Hello Susan,

      I am one of the cofounders of Haricot. We would gladly discuss how we can welcome you you our platform. As mentioned by ADMIN, our site caters to both English and French projects or both. Some of the communication has been mostly in french only because the projects are in French. When you want to discuss, just go to haricot.ca and click on the CHAT tab at the bottom. That will be addressed to me.

      Thank you

      T

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