Fundraising “Scampaigns”

For those of you that have some experience with raising money by doing a “crowd-funding” or fundraiser via sites like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter, you should really consider a few things about the process:

  • Why do I need to use this?
  • Will my campaign REALLY become more visible to people I don’t really know?
  • What am I losing by using this method?

To which the answers are usually, respectfully:

  • It seems easy enough.
  • No, probably not, since there are thousands of campaigns at any given time.
  • You’re losing money, energy, and massive amounts of time.

Consider this: You’ve just prepared to start a campaign. You’ve spent gobs of time and energy setting it all up, networking in different circles, begging friends and family to help, annoyed the ever-loving piss out of everyone on your friend’s lists in the social networking realm, and probably spent either a lot of money getting ready or lots of time. Or, perhaps, like the real world, you’ve not really done ANY of this, thinking that you’ll get the money “somehow” and walking blindly into it all. Either way, you’re hooched.

Now, take a much closer look at the places you’ve considered for fundraising. I mean, put them under a magnifying glass and really, really look. What are you getting from them? Are they really providing you a service? They are simply websites set up to collect your money for you, nothing more. What service do they provide? A place to call “home base”? You could easily build a “home base” on Facebook, Google+, or even Twitter. Do they make raising funds more lucrative or even easier? Well, except for analytics, they’re not doing much more than offering you a chance to pimp your project, which you could do on your own in a matter of minutes. They don’t spam out your campaign (unless you’re successful, because honestly, they only want people to see the positives of using their system), they don’t provide ease of getting your “perks” out there (you’re still FULLY responsible for doing that on your own), and they don’t increase the visibility of your campaign (again, unless you’re successful). In essence, they don’t do ANYTHING for you except gather your money in one “ball” and then hack a chunk off for themselves! Hell, you could setup a PayPal button to accept donations just as easily, and it’ll cost you LESS, since you’re not having to give up so much (most fundraiser sites will deduct 4-12% from your final amount, and that is ON TOP of the PayPal fees!) So where is the genuine value in that?

The value is simply not there. But there is this mystique that makes people flock to them only because they’ve seen famous stars raising millions for their movie they want to get financed, or some new gadget that will “put you on the map”.

I say, “Skip the bullshit.” Create a Facebook page or your own website (if you have the knowledge or ability). Start marketing your idea or product everywhere. Invest some time and effort into getting THAT out to the masses. Have them donate to you using something like PayPal (I know… I can’t stand PayPal, either. I wish SquareUp would have a way to accept credit cards for only 2.75% like they do with their card reader accounts.) Or better yet, have people actively send you the money via a check or money order through the good ol’ US Mail. Then collect them for 90 days and cash them all. Keep people abreast of how much you have now and THANK THEM on the page for their contributions. No perks (unless you want to hassle with those), no BS. The tax reporting at the end of the year could get a little hairy, but seriously, it’s not that bad.

It’s either that, or just find the money on your own, which is much, much more difficult. But if you connect with someone, could actually be more lucrative. (More info in my upcoming book.)

Just realize that CROWD-FUNDING SITES ARE NOT A SERVICE TO YOU OR YOUR CAMPAIGN. Not until they LEARN to simplify the process even more by allowing you to load your perks for downloads. (Imagine if these sites would WISE UP and when you create a “perk” you can then either provide a link to the contributor for them to download something, or the site will allow you to upload a little something, like an MP3 or small video. There is no other simple way to control it, and all of the work currently falls into YOUR lap, not theirs. Where is the convenience in that?) So, for the time being, until they fix their “service”, why use them?