Crowdfunding is a process of raising money for a business or idea. Unlike traditional methods of raising finance, crowdfunding is innovative and based on the concept of raising funding via crowds of people.
Some crowdfunding contributors will donate funds entirely altruistically, simply to support the business. Other crowdfunders will see their funding contribution as an investment into the business venture. In return, these investors will be rewarded with a return on their investment. The reason crowdfunding is so popular is that is has become a great way of raising money quickly. This means that no matter how ambitious or how small your project, there is a way to raise finance without resorting to asking financial institutions.
HOW CROWDFUNDING WORKS
Crowdfunding enables businesses and individuals to attract investors in the business through the practice of funding a project by raising sums of money from a crowd of people who are willing to invest in the business. Some of those offering funds will do so altruistically, expecting nothing in return, but for many of the donors they will expect a return on their investment. In order to start a crowdfunding campaign there needs to be a specific cause or project, and a specific goal amount in place. Businesses and entrepreneurs can then ask or invite a number of people to donate various sums of money (small and large) until the crowdfunding goal is achieved.
The unique part of crowdfunding is that it mainly takes place online. The digital revolution over the last decade, coupled with the increase in social media exposure and marketing means that crowdfunding campaigns can be widely shared and marketed. As crowdfunding tends to take place online, the use of social networks is key and makes it inherently easy for supporters of a crowdfunding campaign to share it widely, ensuring the project gains widespread exposure and funding.
Crowdfunding is used for all manner of projects, including charity projects, creative projects, start up businesses, entrepreneur ideas and small businesses. Crowdfunding is a great way for non-traditional businesses such as those businesses following Islamic finance principles, to raise funding in a Sharia compliant way.
TYPES OF CROWDFUNDING
The main types of crowdfunding models are as follows:
INVESTMENT BASED CROWDFUNDING
This type of crowdfunding is often used by businesses looking to raise capital. Businesses will offer to sell ownership shares and stakes in return for a crowdfunding investment. Businesses will promise to use the funding to develop their business idea or product and in return the investor will receive a share of the business in return for the finance they provided. In this way, donors ultimately become shareholders of the company, with the possibility of owning some of the business equity. Often, these shareholders may also be provided with rights to be involved in the business process and project.
DONATION BASED CROWDFUNDING
Donation based crowdfunding is essentially a model where donors are asked to contribute to the project by way of a donation. Individuals will essentially donate funds with the aim of meeting the project finance goal, and in return the donors do not expect anything in terms of shares or financial returns. People who donate rather than invest are not backers of the business, they just offer finance on a not-for-profit basis.
ADVANTAGES OF CROWDFUNDING
For anyone looking to raise finance for their business or idea via crowdfunding, there are some important advantages you should be mindful of.Advantages:
- There are often minimal upfront fees or costs and this means there is some protection from risk when starting out
- There is little financial risk with almost no start up debt
- It's a great form of market testing and marketing research, seeking the opinion of your target audience
- Money can be raised quickly and campaigns can go viral
- Social networks, websites, and online platforms can result in speedy and widespread exposure
- You can use the crowdfunding campaign to gauge public perception, generate interest, and obtain feedback
- Investors and donors can become personally invested in campaigns and this will help you build loyalty programs and interest in your idea
- Crowdfunding enables start-ups, small businesses and innovative ideas to get financial backing
- It is a great way of raising finance and covering costs for those businesses without access to traditional forms of bank lending or in a difficult economy
- You can create community support for your project and build on these important relationships and customer loyalty
- Crowdfunding enables more effective risk management as there is often less risk for smaller businesses
For a successful approach to crowdfunding you need to make sure you have a clear and strategic approach to the campaigns. The advice and tips will help you create a successful crowdfunding campaign:
- Pre launch: make sure you do your research, collate all the information you need, build email marketing lists and think of ideas for your campaign content
- Create compelling content: this could include a campaign video, written information relating to your goals and graphics/videos
- Tailor your PR: before your campaign goes live research your audience, find out where they hang out virtually (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) and target them
- Strategic social media and influencer use: the greater your reach and the reach of the platforms you use the greater your chances of exposure and success. You don't have to limit your audience to the United Kingdom.
- Engagement: encouraging others to comment, share and post about your campaign will deliver your message to a wider audience
- Donations: don't ask for money immediately but do make sure you ask family, friends, colleagues to donate. Share your passion for your project and draw the reader in. Remember to also ask the right people for donations.
Some of the most popular crowdfunding platforms include the following: