I used to think that crowdfunding was just another version of fundraising until I launched a crowdfunding campaign.
I started a small business not too long ago and wanted to expand into a new product line. After researching the plethora of funding possibilities, I settled on crowdfunding, something that was relatively new to me but seemed to hold the most potential for a project like mine.
Having never been a part of a crowdfunding campaign before, let alone the person running one, I tried to anticipate every detail prior to launching. I read all the articles on what to do and what not to do. I talked with people that had been successful crowdfunders and folks that had fallen short of their goal. I researched how to spread the word and how to not be too annoying while doing so. I considered what questions I would get, how many links to provide, what feedback I might receive, who would support me first, how it would feel to see contributions roll-in (or not), what comments on my video to expect, etc. In essence, I thought I was prepared.
Like any other fundraising effort, I thought that the most exciting part would be watching the money roll in and seeing myself get closer to my funding goal. But a funny thing happened when I was busy focusing on the details—I neglected to realize that in crowdfunding when someone funds a project, they aren’t just making a donation, they are paying for the thing (that you will be producing) to come or something else that you promise them.
Yes, I had realized that I had created “Perks,” or “Rewards,” in exchange for various funding levels but it wasn’t until the name of the first contributor came it that it hit me—THIS is the dream. My dream is to get my product (a real-world Choose Your Own Adventure mobile app) into the hands of people that need it and this process is enabling that exact thing to happen. My dream isn’t, and has never been, to raise X dollars just to produce something. My dream, my vision, is to give people “adventures” (outdoor experiences). And having set up my Perks such that for nearly every contribution level ($6 level excluded) the funder will receive at least one Adventure, means that I am already living the dream!
For me, the difference between fundraising and crowdfunding is that in fundraising people donate money to help you accomplish something that could benefit them directly but it probably doesn’t benefit them directly. While in crowdfunding, you give people an opportunity to order your product early, thereby enabling you to create it, and in exchange you give them a discounted rate or an extra feature or something special that they wouldn’t get if they purchased it off the shelf (of course this is different in the Perks provided are not versions of your product).
The difference between fundraising and crowdfunding may seem obvious but when the ultimate goal is like mine, to provide an awesome experience to people that need it, then seeing the names of the people who pre-order is completely different than just collecting money.
I don’t yet know if I will reach my goal since my project still has 25 days left, but crowdfunding has already given me something that fundraising never could and that’s pretty cool.
You can check out my project: a real-world “Choose Your Own Adventure” mobile app here http://igg.me/at/choose-your-own-adventure/x/3580262