Front Row Center Newsletter from the Greater Columbus Arts Counsil

frc-oct2

Crowdfunding has become a new alternative for entrepreneurs, small organizations, businesses and artists who are seeking funding. In its simplest form, crowdfunding is a means of rallying fans and supporters to raise money for creative projects, new ventures and more.

There are two main types of crowdfunding. The first model, donation-based funding, enables individuals to donate via a collaborative goal based process in return for products, perks or rewards.  The second and more recent model is investment crowdfunding, where businesses seeking capital sell ownership stakes in the form of equity or debt. In this model, funders become owners or shareholders and have a potential for financial return, unlike in the donation model.

Online crowdfunding started about five years ago and is growing across the globe with new platforms catering to different needs and interests.  Current philanthropic trends indicate remarkable growth in online donations and a strong desire for transparency; donors want to see where their gifts go.  According to two new studies by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, online donations to nonprofits of all sizes grew by 14 percent last year, compared to the 1.5 percent rise in giving across all platforms.

Crowdfunding websites such as IndieGoGo and KickStarter connect potential investors with project creators and developers, taking novel ideas and putting them into production. The advantage of the new online crowdfunding websites is that they provide a cost-effective way for independent artists and small organizations to reach many more people.  Many fans, friends and acquaintances may be able to give only small amounts, but with the ability to attract a big enough crowd to donate, funding goals have a better chance of being reached.

Crowdfunding websites offer a simple way to create attractive online fundraising pages that can be publicized through email lists, Facebook pages, blogs or any other social networks. Using available crowdfunding services, project creators essentially build web pages that host information, photos and promotional videos on products, projects or services they’re looking to get funded.  Crowdfunding campaigns have a time limit on these sites; typically giving periods are between 30 and 90 days.  The sizes and types of these projects are across the board; genres range from film, theatre, music, publishing to small business creation and just about any creative idea imaginable in between. Because of this innovative social market and the ease of donation, many creative projects are becoming reality.

As an alternative or supplement to traditional grants, crowdfunding is a practical and relatively simple way to raise money directly and to connect with audiences in a more personal way.  Not only will a successful campaign generate money, it will generate enthusiasm for the project.  Supporters who make even a small donation feel involved in the project, and are more likely to spread the word about it to their networks.

Leveraging fans to give and then act as evangelists for a project is essential.  And though it takes a significant investment of time and planning,  the exercise of designing and promoting the pitch required by crowdfunding platforms is a great way to shape a creative project into a compelling ‘ask’ and rally a crowd of followers behind it.  It’s a chance to talk about the impact that a project could have on the community; to communicate with community members in a way that might not have been possible before.  An inspirational story will foster personal connections with donors and raise awareness of not only the project, but of the business, organization or artist behind it.

To entice donors, project creators are encouraged to offer rewards and incentives in exchange for pledges that support their efforts. For instance, if an artist is making a film, they could offer people a DVD of the finished project, signed posters or an invitation to see the film at a special preview. For small gifts, the charitable tax deduction is small and many people will be much more excited about having a direct connection with an artist, a personal gesture of acknowledgement for their support, or getting a gift related to the project.

With all of the different crowdfunding sites available, it’s also important to choose a platform that is a good fit.  Many of the platforms, including Kickstarter, only release funds if the funding goal is met.  For example, if a project is asking for $3K, the creators must raise at least $3K in donations to receive any proceeds.  Some sites are geared more toward social causes or investing in start-up businesses.  Others are focused on the music business or technology.

A great option for arts and cultural organizations and artists is power2give.org.

A relatively new crowdfunding platform, power2give.org empowers donors to give directly to local arts, cultural and history projects that they are passionate about. Nonprofit organizations post projects that are in need of funding and donors help bring them to life with a gift.

Power2give.org was designed and created by Arts & Science Council in Charlotte, NC to expand the support of the local cultural sector and to address the changing trends in philanthropic giving.  Since its launch in August 2011, the site has grown and is now operational in communities across the country.  As of June 30, 2013, nationwide the site had raised over $3.2 million in support, posted over 1,400 projects and received more than 13,500 donations.

By developing a giving platform specifically devoted to supporting arts and cultural projects, donors can help the organizations they love turn their needs into a reality.  With tools and resources for both donors and cultural organizations, power2give.org makes posting, donating and promoting projects convenient and engaging.

To launch the platform in new communities, power2give.org partners with a local “host” organization that is often the lead arts and culture advocate for the community.  The “host” organization sponsors the site locally, promotes the site, approves projects posted and processes the financial transactions.

Most platforms require projects to work on an ‘all or nothing’ basis, where projects only receive the funds they have raised if they hit their funding goal.  Funds raised for projects through power2give.org are released to the organization, even if the goal isn’t met.

The Greater Columbus Arts Council (GCAC) is proud to serve as the local host for this groundbreaking online crowdfunding platform, Central Ohio is the 20th community to join in the national power2give movement.  As the chief advocate for the arts in Columbus, GCAC is responsible for championing the site and managing the execution of power2give.org locally.

As the host, GCAC will market the main platform by actively recruiting and training organizations (familiarize with the platform, general and marketing tips) as they get involved. As of the end of September, more than 20 local projects will be ready to take donations at the launch on October 17.

One of the goals of the host organization is to attract more matching grants from individuals, corporations and foundations as the program continues. Matching grants serve not only to leverage both the the individual and matching donors’ gifts; they help to fund technological upgrades to the power2give.org system—an investment in an innovative tool that benefits the entire community.

Providing a matching grant through a crowdfunding platform aligns donors with public interest and can give insight into what types of projects resonate with the community.  This type of investment also has the potential to reach a more diverse range in projects that traditional funding may not have been available before, making a deeper impact on the community.

With generous support from the city of Columbus through the grants program, Cardinal Health, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, PNC and The Columbus Foundation, the site will launch at GCAC’s Community Arts Partnership Awards luncheon on October 17 with $55,000 in matching funds. Donations are matched at a 1:1 ratio, doubling an individual’s contributions, until the grant runs out.

“This new program is a natural fit for Columbus, allowing donors to  give their generous dollars directly to local arts and cultural projects that they are most passionate about,” said Tom Katzenmeyer, president of GCAC. “With the additional support through challenge grants from the local foundation and corporate community, the power2give program also helps donors’ dollars go further, and will help our nonprofit arts and culture groups further their missions.”

To address current trends in philanthropic giving, power2give.org addresses the shift and creates a closer relationship between donors and the arts organizations they support. Through power2give.org, donors feel a personal connection to specific projects.  When the projects they’ve donated to are a success, they see a tangible result and are able to say, “I had a hand in that.”  And the power2give program is cultivating brand new donors; according to their statistics, 44 percent have given to organizations for the first time through the platform.

As host for power2give.org, GCAC hopes is thrilled to connect donors with arts and cultural projects locally and outside the community through the platform, giving them the power to share their passion for the projects they support and for creative individuals and organizations to reach a whole new generation of arts enthusiasts.

Crowdfunding Sites to Choose From

Just to give you an idea of the many different models and focuses, check out the list of crowdfunding sites below:

AngelList
appbackr
Crowdfunder
Crowdrise
GoFundMe
Invested.in
PledgeMusic
Quirky
Razoo
Rockethub
Sellaband
Somolend

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