10 things I’ve learned about crowdfunding…and friendships

By Cristina DC Pastor

The first crowdfunding campaign is said to have started in 1885, and the first beneficiary was the Statue of Liberty.

At the time, there was no middleman called Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but the same principle applied. The people who were behind the project that would erect the Statue of Liberty – a gift to the U.S. from France — on American soil ran out of money and turned to public donations to finance the cost of the platform. In exchange for their contributions, the donors’ names would be printed in newspapers to acknowledge their support.

I was not aware of this configured information until I attended the recent “Doing Business in NYC” seminar hosted by the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce (PACC). One of the speakers, Ricardo Devallon of NYC Business Solutions, shared this morsel of insight. According to him, the Statue of Liberty campaign was able to raise $100K, enough to build the base and complete the project.

In the two campaigns I may have initiated or got involved with – an Investigative Reporting Project for The FilAm magazine, and a logistical fundraising for Makilala TV – the target amounts were not met. That’s OK because the amounts generated were still sufficient to get the good projects started.

In the end, it is not a reflection on the project, said a friend who works for a nonprofit . It is more an indication that, perhaps, the Filipino-American network has become more selective because it is getting hit by all types of community fundraising.

I also learned from crowdfunding blogs that sometimes the project, no matter how worthy, is not what lures the money. Rather, it is the idea that the donor becomes part of the process of creation.

Some food campaigns, for example, have gotten great monetary rewards on the idea that the donors would be able to have a say in the production of a pasta sauce or kale chips when they send in their donation. It would be a point of pride to see the products on store shelves and be able to say, “I gave money to this company.”

Both theories are probably valid. With my experience, however, I learned 10 more things about crowdfunding and that bitter reality called ‘asking your friends for money.’

10-The surge comes at the beginning and toward the end.
9-In between, donations trickled and the waiting is excruciating.
8-You get a thrill when a total stranger makes a donation, and then you wonder: Why?
7-Friends say they will help, but they don’t!
6-After the campaign period is over, they said they forgot and will send a check…and still don’t!
5-Some friends have been ignoring your emails, or at least that’s what you suspect.
4-Should you ask donation from people you plan to investigate (or guest on the show)?
3-Some friends said they’re “broke,” and I liked that they were honest.
2- Some friends are the last to donate!
1-You’re just too glad when it’s over!

red line

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