Crowdfunding 101

A young professional organization with one goal in mind: end Alzheimer's.

Crowdfunding 101

Whether you’re raising money to attend the National Alzheimer’s Forum in DC next month, fundraising to play Blondes vs. Brunettes or looking for some tips for your Walk to End ALZ team, these valuable crowdfunding tips can help!

Our very own Central Ohio Junior Committee Board Chair, Kristin Dahlquist, shares how crowdfunding has helped her and other JC members raise money in order to attend the National Alzheimer’s Forum in DC and increase critical awareness for the cause overall.

1888789_10100730153268974_6571049515574331560_oAbout Kristin: My name is Kristin Dahlquist and I am the Board Chair of the Central Ohio Junior Committee. Our JC is in it’s fourth year of existence, and I am in my second year as the Chair. Professionally, I am the Managing Director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Drug Misuse Prevention and Recovery and am pursuing my Master’s in Public Health at The Ohio State University.

Crowdfunding is a great way to generate resources to complete a project, goal or task. I use crowdfunding each year to raise money to attend the National Alzheimer’s Forum in Washington, DC. Crowdfunding has been wildly successful in sending the Central Ohio Junior Committee members to DC – this year I am one of ten individuals from our team going to the National Forum. Beyond raising funds, it creates awareness.

Step 1: Create your “tribe.” Your tribe is made up of your supports – those individuals in your life that know what good work you’re doing for Alzheimer’s Disease, or those people who have also been personally affected. A tribe is usually made up of family, friends, community partners, coworkers and professional acquaintances. Engage your tribe throughout the year so they know and understand the effort you’re putting into ending this disease. This can be done in several ways, but the easiest would be through social media, monthly email updates and utilizing a blog platform. This communication creates trust with your tribe.

Step 2: Look up other campaigns that do the same thing. There is no need to recreate the wheel. If someone has created a template for this already and has been successful – steal it! Well, I call it R&D. Rip off and duplicate. It’s all for a good cause!

Step 3: Decide on a crowdfunding platform. There are plenty to choose from, but a few common platforms are Indigogo, Crowd Rise, GoFundMe, Kickstarter, First Giving, Donors Choose and Community Forward. Visit wiki comparison to find out what serves your need best. Some platforms support research; others are geared toward the development of a product and some simply raise funds for a cause. I used GoFundMe. Read more about crowdfunding services here.

Step 4: Tell your story on the crowdfunding website. It is important to engage your tribe by utilizing your testimony. One of the best skills to build is storytelling – especially your own. It isn’t easy, but it’ll pay off in the long run. If you can, include a video. Campaigns with videos raise 114% more on average. I did not use a video, but had several pictures highlighting my trip last year, including influential experiences and photos of our successes with legislators! In addition to a video, I suggest incentivizing your backers. Often times people create “tiers” of giving and with each tier comes a new benefit from social media recognition to providing custom t-shirts.

Step 5: Time to ask for donations! Crowdfunding works best as the last step. It is the hammer on the nail, so to speak. I received a scholarship from the Alzheimer’s Association District Forum District program, and then I donated to myself. This funding was listed in my crowdfunding, so I didn’t start at $0. This is important – people want to donate to something that they have faith will come to fruition! You can expect 25% of your funding will come from your inner circle within the first two weeks. Beyond that, you need to engage your tribe’s circles. Encourage sharing via social media and forwarding emails. I met a complete stranger via Facebook from social sharing who now donates $100/ year to the Alzheimer’s Association on my behalf. It works!

Step 6: Update your crowdfunding page with new information about the trip or project. This includes thanking your “backers”!

Step 7: Send personalized thank-yous! After you attend the National Alzheimer’s Forum in DC this year, you’ll want to go back next year, and the year after that…you’ll need support from them again! Keep the relationship alive.

Good luck and see you in DC!