What’s going on world? It’s your social introvert dad here and today I wanted to talk about something that’s been driving me nuts over the years… crowdfunding platforms!
Now, I’m not talking about the typical project funding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, they’re actually pretty useful investment platforms and have allowed those without sufficient network resources to turn their creativity into something tangible often with some sort of return to compensate investors for their risk. That’s the way crowdfunding should and, I think, was intended to be overall. But that form of crowdfunding has given way to other platforms such as Gofundme and Crowdrise. Platforms that I would argue aren’t as useful, these platforms were intended to help fund a noble cause but have slowly turned into a way to ask for money for literally anything you choose to.
OK so the rest of this is probably going to sound like a rant, so if you’re sensitive to other points of views you should probably just read another blog post and leave this one immediately!
Alright, now that it’s just us rational minded individuals left let me just tell you Gofundme is probably the laziest way to raise money I’ve ever seen. Yes, I said it and I’m not sorry if you’re offended, because my opinion doesn’t have to be your reality. Anyway, Gofundme affords the opportunity to ask for money from anyone in the world without having to leave your home. While I know people get into tight situations and are in need of money quickly, disconnecting yourself from the asking process doesn’t increase your chances of hitting your goal in fact it DECREASES your chances.
Raising money isn’t hard, I once heard that “money is only one phone call away.” And it’s true, visualize this: what if you needed $5 just to get enough gas to make it two days to payday, who would you ask? What if your car got towed and you needed $300 to get it out so you can go to work tomorrow, who would you call? What about $1000 or even $10,000? As the need goes up it seems the options for getting money become less and less but that’s not entirely true.
I once bore witness to the power of humbling yourself in front of people. Once upon a time I took a transformational leadership development program. The total cost of the program was over $4000 but was broken up into modules which you could pay for individually. In my ‘Journey’ there was a girl who was dead broke, she had no job and spent all her money on the first module not knowing there were two more modules to complete. When we ended the first module we had the option to prepay for the next one and save $100 which many people jumped on. Jen* had experienced a breakthrough and wanted to continue with her transformation but a again she had no money and didn’t come from an affluent family; she was ready to give up until she talked to one of the trainer’s who reminded her that money was only a phone call away or in this case an ask. So Jen humbled herself in front of the group of us explained her situation and asked for help with the $600 course.
In front of my eyes something magical happened, the group pulled together and had the money to pay for the entire course in less than 5 mins! It was pretty crazy to be honest I even put in $20. How often does that happen in crowdfunding land? Often it takes days, weeks, or even months to hit a similar goal even with the power of social media and the millions of people online. So why is that?
My instincts bring me back to the concept of being humble, authentic, honest, and letting someone see your heart, basically leaving yourself completely vulnerable. That’s something that’s missing online, there’s no emotion, there’s no looking someone in the eye there’s no real connection to the people you’re asking to help you in a time of need and that’s not OK.
Back in my networking days, I was sat in on a meeting with my little brother and a prospective team member who wanted to get started but didn’t have the money and was planning to save up in order to purchase the necessary product for his new business. I suggested he borrow the money since we could help him make it back within a few weeks but he said no he was not comfortable asking for money. Earlier in the conversation he had talked about wanting to buy a car soon and needing to get a loan from the bank. So I asked him “what’s the difference in asking to borrow five thousand dollars from the bank and asking to borrow a few hundred dollars from a friend or family member?” Before he could answer I told him it was his ego.
The act of asking for money wasn’t a problem for him but who he was comfortable asking was dictated by his ego and society. It’s a normal thing to go to a bank and ask a stranger for money but not so much going to someone we know because of a number of reasons. This could be due to your conversations about money, or belief in your ability to pay back a loan, or simply your concerned with “looking good” or saving face as most people know it.
Here’s the thing though if you’re going to ask for a loan or even just ask someone to give you money without expecting to be paid back, you absolutely can’t be concerned with saving face. Not if you want to have any real success raising money at least. Some people will give you their last if they truly feel they are making a difference just so they can get the good feeling inside. It’s how this world works, deep down, we all just want to be noble. If asking for money is outside of your realm the only other real option I see is selling goods or services to raise money. Even so, you’ll still need to connect with people if fundraising is the goal, but hey, it works for the girl scouts why can’t it work for you?
So there you have it. That’s my take on crowdfunding. What do you think have I missed the mark or am I on point? Let me know in the comment section below and give this a share too while you’re at it.
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