Guest Post Written by Wendy Ice, Owner of Bad Monkey Production.
1. The dynamic is inherently forthright.
One doesn’t confront a customer or client by saying: “It isn’t enough to hit the ‘like’ button. If you want this product or service to exist, you need to spend money.” But the fact is that businesses and organizations can’t survive without funds, and crowdfunding invites a refreshing candor about this reality. The symbiotic nature of the relationship is transparent. Project creators communicate openly about challenges and expenses, while backers are acutely aware of the necessary role that they play in the dynamic.
2. All participants are genuinely invested.
With crowdfunding, every participant has a conscious interest in seeing the project succeed. In the pre-order model, backers want a product; with equity-based ventures, they hope to profit; and with donation-based campaigns, there is a psychological investment. But, regardless, of the model, a campaign that is run with passion and integrity can produce an emotional investment in everyone involved.
3. Communication is encouraged.
A crowdfunding campaign, when run well, is much more than a fundraiser. Smart campaign creators welcome feedback, constructive criticism, and suggestions from backers. Meanwhile they solicit help and advice from crowdfunding forums, other campaign creators, and the many websites dedicated to the topic. The creator who takes the time to connect through thoughtful comments and expressed appreciation quickly finds him or herself surrounded by mentors.
4. Everyone understands the process.
In the normal course of business, customers and clients see a product or project only after it’s created. In crowdfunding, backers are often privy to the entire process of creation. This invites empathy regarding challenges and a deeper appreciation of the work and passion invested by the creators. It’s notable that while crowdfunding projects are often delayed, backers are typically sympathetic as long as there is transparency.
5. Mutual accountability is created
With dozens or thousands of individuals watching a project unfold, campaign creators are highly motivated to perform with excellence. Meanwhile, as backers gain a behind-the-scenes view of how a project is created, they are inspired to do more than simply pledge money. They tend to lend encouragement, support, and help.
6. Positive Values are Rewarded
Rather than a dog-eat-dog business model in which companies are often rewarded for bad behavior (underpaying workers, cutting corners on quality, ignoring environmental recommendations etc.) crowdfunding rewards those who are generous, transparent, communicative, and committed to quality.
7. Community Trumps Competitiveness
Crowdfunding backers support mutual projects simultaneously, and creators have little sense of competing with other campaigns for dollars. As a result, campaign creators frequently help each other with advice, information, and even cross-promotion.
8. Broad Demographics are Engaged.
Creators and backers are diverse in age, background, location, and socioeconomic status. Anyone can launch a campaign without spending a dime, and backers can feel involved and invested for as little as $1. Meanwhile, in the comments sections of campaigns, all backers are equal. Since the amount of a contribution is hidden from all but the creator, the student who gives a dollar has as much status in a discussion as the angel investor who gives several thousand.
9. Online connections are Forged.
In many ways, crowdfunding resembles social media such as Facebook. But because everyone who participates is actually invested in the topic, the quality of commentary and the degree of involvement is much higher. Creators have a far greater opportunity to create community through a crowdfunding campaign than they do by creating a Facebook page, and those connections can be nurtured and sustained long after a campaign is complete.
10. Emotional Energy is Exchanged.
A creator may launch a campaign with the simple intent to raise money. But if they choose to authentically engage with others, they will quickly discover that the campaign has yielded far more. Crowdfunding is hard work, and the the hardest work begins after the campaign’s end. But the interest, support, and encouragement of backers and fellow crowdfunders can help energize and inspire creators through the long hours, challenges, and setbacks. Over time, if those relationships are tended, they may prove more valuable than the funds.
Wendy Ice (owner of Bad Monkey Productions) created her first crowdfunding campaign in December 2013 (a Kickstarter project to fund a deluxe “Alice in Wonderland” book, illustrated by her husband). The campaign raised over $83,000. She has begun building a Facebook community page to share resources with other creators at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crowdfunding-Help/411536232283261