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Posted on May 24, 2017 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd funding – The Power of Knowledge

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionThey say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In the case of crowd funding, perhaps a little knowledge is not so much dangerous, but it can waste time as well as being rather disheartening when a campaign is commenced with the owner not going in with their eyes open, and then not achieving the desired outcome. But knowledge is power. Understanding your crowd, how to motivate and communicate with them, as well as understanding what crowd funding is all about can make the difference between success and disappointment.

Firstly, it is important to understand what crowd funding actually is, and the mechanics of how it actually works to truly appreciate the roles of the platform and the owner of the campaign. A common misconception is that the platform raises the funds, and that the campaign owner need simply post a campaign and then sit back and watch the money roll in. The platform provides a foundation on which the campaign is hosted, and which simplifies the pledging and payment process, as well as allowing the campaign to be easily shared. Some even provide a structure and coaching to campaign owners’ campaigns. It is up to the campaign owner to then find the initial supporters and to get the early momentum behind the campaign. Only once the campaign has sufficient momentum (usually around 20 – 25%) will the activity, promotion and marketing of the platform actually kick in.

Shooting an arrow aimlessly into the air is unlikely to yield any great prize. The same can be said for crowd funding. It is essential to identify your crowd – to whom is it that you need to promote and appeal? Understanding what motivates them and how you engage with them are paramount to gaining their support (are they motivated by the outcome of your campaign e.g. to save a species of turtle, or are they motivated by getting their hands on a cool, highly sought after reward?). And it’s not just what inducements you need, but how many people do you need to appeal to in order to achieve your target. Working on the basis of just 10% of those in your networks will actually pledge, and given that the average pledge is $50, you will need to work out what will need to be the optimal size of your crowd before you begin to promote your campaign.

The advent of the Internet has made everyone a potential broadcaster. In one sense, this is a good thing, giving everyone a voice, but in another sense, it has created a noise on the ‘web that can be a challenge to cut through. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like are all great social media tools but using them effectively to build and audience prior to starting a campaign, then using them efficiently during the life of a campaign can be a challenge. Drafting an effective communications plan before your campaign is exposed to the crowd can be tricky – how do you blend social media, with traditional media and get all of the channels leveraging off each other?

The wheel has already been invented, so it is a matter of finding what has worked well for others who have worn a path over the ground you plan to tread. When it comes to writing a campaign description, rewards, and a campaign video, it is unlikely that you will not be able to find someone who has already run a successful campaign in the same sector. These previous campaigns make for a perfect temple that any astute campaign owner can then meld to suit their own needs.

When the sun sets on any campaign, one of two results will have been achieved, success or unsuccessful. Either way, there are a number of activities and actions that should be undertaken. How do you best thank people, or utilize the information your gathered along the way? How do you go delivering the rewards, and what is the best way to communicate any changes to your plans and schedules? And if you are going to have another go and either raise more funds or have a second attempt to raise the funds you missed out on, what is the best plan for starting again and re-engaging?

There are many questions raised in this blog piece. The answers are found in some of the great seminars, workshops and online courses like this one by successful crowd funding marketer, Eli Regalado. There are informative blogs dedicated to crowd funding that speak from a position of experience, knowledge and authority such as the iPledg Blog. And there are excellent websites at the core of the industry like www.crowdsourcing.org which provide infographics, statistics and case studies of the latest successful crowd funding initiatives.

Use the resources, gather the information, and use the experience of those who have successfully walked before you, and you will be well on the way to achieving your crowd funding goals.

 

Posted on May 20, 2017 By DrDion With 0 comments

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Posted on April 25, 2017 By Bob With 0 comments

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Posted on April 21, 2017 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – A Legitimate and Noble Pursuit

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionOne of the most commonly asked questions about crowd funding relates to the safety of the pledges made. “What stops the campaign owner simply running away with the funds, and not delivering the rewards?”. The simple answer until now has been “Nothing…….Other than the long arm of the law”. The world of crowd funding has always been built on an idealistic and trusting platform of community spirit, but a number of recent cases have added comfort to all potential backers by showing that most governments will not tolerate crowd funding theft.

Crowd funding is conducted on a medium that has perhaps the best memory of all things – the internet. Given that most of those who indulging in either raising or pledging funds to campaigns are somewhat tech-savvy, the internet is a great place to research campaign owners, and to get feedback about the campaign and its proponents. The more responsible intermediaries (crowd funding platforms) will have in place some form of probity so that the money trail can be tracked, and the individuals who conduct campaigns will have to prove some form or legitimacy as to their identity, if not their bank account and location.

The very essence of crowd funding also has its own built in protection mechanism. The success of crowd funding is based on a campaign typically receiving its initial validation and support from those known to the campaign owner. It is his “first tier” that legitimises the campaign, and creates a touch point to a broader community who may not know the campaign owner themselves, but through the actions of the first tier, the “second tier” or “friends of friends” become involved. From there, it is the broader community (“third tier”) that buy in once sufficient momentum and validation have been established.

But just as there will always be methods for protecting backers, there will always be the exceptional few who try and circumvent and rort the system. It is in such cases that legislators around the world are now showing the strength to pursue offenders and send a message to the industry that fraudsters will not be tolerated.  The Washington State Attorney General’s office ordered monies to be repaid by the Asylum Playing Cards campaign on Kickstarter. Whilst the verdict went virtually undetected by media outlets, it was the first case of its kind to be resolved under the Consumer Protection Act. This comes just one month after the Federal Trade Commission settlement of its first crowdfunding fraud case in which they ordered Erik Chevalier to repay the $122,000 he received from 1,246 Kickstarter backers to launch a board game that was never produced.

Even before iPledg launched in 2012, founders of the platform engaged with the regulators – The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the Department of Fair Trading – to see what was permissible and required under law. Whilst, at the time, crowd funding was pretty much unknown and the laws around what could and could not be done were yet to be clearly defined, the emphasis was always on upholding the utmost in probity in protecting all concerned, especially the backers or those pledging support to campaigns.

Crowd funding is not a perfect system, and not without risk. However, by virtue of the community nature under which it operates, given its conduct is carried out on the internet with users that are relatively tech savvy, and recognising the way in which the regulators in most countries are treating any breach of consumer law, crowd funding continues to be one of the safest forms of commercial activity on the planet. Statistically, the incidence of fraud is rare given the volume of transactions, and you are more likely to be defrauded by traditional retailers or door knockers than by crowd funding campaigns.

Posted on April 14, 2017 By DrDion With 0 comments

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Posted on March 25, 2017 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – the Basics of Capital Raising

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionCapital raising, whether it is by way of equity or by pledge, all starts with a great business or concept. Built it and they will come – as long as “it” is attractive, functional, and relevant. From that, the journey of where you have come from and where you plan to go needs to be cobbled into a good story, and then delivered as a compelling sell to an engaged, supportive and enthused crowd. Get these right, with each of these steps seamlessly integrating into the next, and you have the formula for a successful funding campaign.

Getting the product, service or business model right is like having a solid footing on which to build a house. A less than solid footing may allow you to make some progress, but it will eventually crumble under the weight of scrutiny and market pressure. “Pivoting” – making changes as you develop your concept in response to market feedback and new findings – will allow you to better fashion your concept before you go to market. Doing your homework will ensure you know what the market wants, and that your product, service or company will satisfy or solve that need. Understanding your market allows you to fine tune your concept so that you deliver the market what they want or need, in a way that they can easily uptake your offering. And ensuring you present the pathway forward in a well considered and articulated manner will allow you to take the concept to market.

Once you are confident that you have the right product that people will want, and you are able to demonstrate that your assumptions are substantiated, you will need to start to prepare and build your “crowd”. Start to engage them, not only in your capital raising, but in the product or business itself. Again, if they like what you are doing and you can build enough excitement, you won’t need to ask for investment or pledges – your crowd will be beating down your door to be part of your venture! The internet has made it easy to find like-minded individuals and organisations with whom you can communicate about what you are doing, and to build these followers in to tribes that will not only come on board, but endorse or advocate your efforts, business, and product.

Once you have built your tribe, you need to maintain engagement as well as continue adding to your crowd. Communication is the key. Let them know of your progress. Keep them engaged by telling them of your successes, milestones reached, and the goals you have kicked. Don’t whisper, but shout it from the roof tops and let your crowd hear it. And don’t just talk at them – invite them to get involved and start a conversation. Again, do it publicly so other members of your crowd feel comfortable to get involved, and those outside feel compelled to join in on not just the discussion but to become part of the group.

Your ultimate success is highly dependent on you. 21% of all funding campaigns raise nothing, not a single dollar. This is due the issuer or the project owner failing to engage his first tier or those who know and love them the most. It cannot simply be left for the platform or someone else to bring on funders. Initial momentum for any campaign must be driven by the issue or campaign owner. Before any funding campaign begins, the project creator or issuer needs to have investors or supporters ready to support from the get-go. A movement is created by momentum, and momentum needs to be created early. Many funding campaigns run out of steam because support is too slow in coming. Get supporters and investors on board early, and let the world see they you have something about which they should take note.

Once momentum has begun, keep it going, and recognise there are now a number of priorities to support the main goal of achieving your funding target. You need to motivate your initial supporters or investors to invite their friends and contacts on board, telling them about the great thing they have done in supporting your business, product, or venture. As each of your crowd will have a crowd of their own, this “second tier” represents a much larger audience than you will have reached by yourself. Then there is also the constant task of keeping your total supporter base engaged, as well as growing the number of members of your tribe. Keep your follower numbers growing, keep your tribe focused and involved, and ask your supporters to become advocates for you.

Capital raising in any form involves work – teamwork. You need to sustain energy to maintain focus on building and driving our team towards your funding goal. If your product is largely built to truly satisfy the requirements of the market, and you have done your homework correctly, then you will not have to spend much time on your product as you do your capital raising. Build your immediate followers (your “first tier”) and get some early runs on the board. From there, communicate your successes and ask your first tier to engage their contacts (the second tier). Create noise, momentum, and give people a reason to want to have a look at what you are doing – at your business as well as your capital raising efforts. For the duration of the campaign, never give up, keen going, and remain fast, flexible, and fashionable until your goals are achieved.

Posted on March 9, 2017 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Underwriting Your Events

iPledg NewFor anyone who has ever run an event of any description, they would understand the nervousness of underwriting ticket sales, hoping that the revenue generated would cover the cost of holding the event, and perhaps even make a small return. Costs can be quite considerable – venue hire, staffing cost, transaction expenses, the cost of the “talent”, as well as catering can all add up quickly. So how does an event organiser ensure that they will not be left holding the can if ticket sales do not cover costs? The answer may well lie in Crowd Funding.

The typical scenario in organising an event is to commit to the costs, and then to start selling tickets. The stresses ramp up as the organiser gets closer to the date of the event, yet revenue from ticket sales still sits short of the income required to cover costs. Many panic at this point, spending more money on promotion, thus raising costs, and discounting remaining tickets, thus increasing the amount that need to be sold to cover the expense of the event. It really is, in many cases, an example of biting off more than you can chew and then chewing like crazy.

Crowd Funding can totally change the way in which events are now run, ensuring that ticket sales meet the requirement to cover costs before a commitment is made to holding the event. It also engages those who purchase tickets to then become advocates for the event, to ensure that the event does proceed as planned. Consider this…..

Imagine you are planning an event, perhaps a concert. You need to commit to venue hire as well as paying your performer, the staff, and food and drinks for the event. Your total costs are $10,000 (OK, I didn’t say that the performer was an A-lister). If your average ticket price (across the cheap seats right through to the front row) is $100, you will need to sell 100 tickets before you no longer have to reach into your own pocket to cover expenses. If you follow traditional protocol, you are committed to holding the event as soon as you start to promote it, no matter if you sell the required 100 tickets or not. The more you fall short of the 100 ticket mark, the more pain you will incur.

But the whole scenario changes if you run the sales process through crowd funding….

You would set up a crowd funding campaign, the project being your concert. In the project description you outline all the details of your event, the performer, etc. You also explain that the campaign, as with most crowd funding campaigns, is conducted on an “All or Nothing” basis. That is, the campaign will only transact and the project will only proceed if you meet or exceed your funding target in the campaign timeframe. Your funding target is then set at the amount which will cover the budget to hold your concert, plus a little more to cover the costs of a crowd funding campaign.

Rewards for such a campaign are relatively easy to then put together. Entry level rewards could be a simple note from the performer, sent directly to those who make a small pledge. Ticket sales are the most obvious rewards, with the various reward tiers being matched by the various levels of ticket pricing. Stretch rewards (rewards for higher pledge amounts) could be made up of corporate recognition, backstage passes, or even recognition or participation in the show itself. Such creativeness takes some of the pressure off ticket sales, as you come up with more rewards to offer which represent alternative and additional income streams.

Promotion of the crowd funding campaign is then done exactly as you otherwise would have done for the concert itself, with two far greater benefits. Firstly there is the benefit of having more on offer than merely ticket sales. You have all the other rewards tiers which you can spruike about, so there is a broader story with which to hit social media, moreso than just the event itself. Secondly, there is the urgency of the concert not proceeding if the funding target is not reached in the campaign timeframe. This is where you can not only build some urgency around ticket sales or pledges, but those who have purchased tickets will also become advocates for you (especially with a bit of gentle prompting)  as they tell their crowds to jump on board and pledge, for if other don’t they themselves might miss out due to the event not proceeding.

In the event that the funding target is not reached, it will mean you have not sold sufficient tickets to cover your costs. In this case, the pledges would simply dissolve (you would not have to issue refunds as the pledges would not transact until the end of the funding period and only if the target had been met or exceeded), and those who had bought the few tickets you had sold would completely understand as to why the event was not going to proceed. This way, you are also well placed to opt out of your commitments in terms of the costs (you will have a good indication during the campaign, and not have to wait until the end of the campaign before you start to flag your intentions with your suppliers).

In the event that you reach your funding target, you can always add more rewards, or more of each one already on the campaign. You will have the funds committed so you can make arrangements with your suppliers. You will have the flexibility to upscale as you will know what funds are coming in and when.

Crowd funding – underwriting your creative, commercial, charitable and community events.

Posted on February 10, 2017 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Providing Schools with an Effective Funding Solution

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionSchool is back in, and now the realisation returns that many schools are in need of more sporting equipment, shade for lunchtime seating, props and scenery for the school play, funding to sending students to participate or compete in an event, and the cash to afford the things to supplement the teaching of the 3 Rs. But with governments’ tightening up on the funding they provide to schools for much required “niceties”, and with traditional funding drives becoming tired and lacking enthusiastic support from the community, crowd funding looms as the fresh and effective solution.

It is wonderfully symbiotic – schools are a great fit for crowd funding, and crowd funding offers a source of funding that requires far less time, effort and risk on the part of the schools. In fact, with a fresh new approach like crowd funding, the engagement level is higher and the appeal far broader than the traditional funding initiatives employed by schools in the past.

There are so many inducements or rewards that are at hand that schools can offer to those who pledge their support. Artwork from the kids, corporate exposure in school newsletter, standard tickets or preferred seating at school plays or sporting events, treats from the school canteen, or recognition through naming rights or mention on an honour board (or even on a simple plaque) are just some of the incentives that schools can offer without being out of pocket. Further engagement with the community can be achieved if some of the parents offer rewards from their businesses to those who support the school’s campaign, thus giving greater inducements to pledge.

There exists a natural audience around schools, a ready-made community from who support can be sought. Parents, students, former students or alumni, local residents, local sporting and special interest groups, and Parents and Friends Associations are all prime candidates to whom schools can easily communicate, and from whom support will be easily forthcoming. With a captive audience, communication to “the crowd” and continually driving the message takes no additional time to the standard day-to-day activities of the school, as informing the crowd is as simple as mentioning the campaign in newsletters, at assemblies, and in the regular forms of constant communication that schools undertake.

Rather than families spending days selling fund-raising chocolates (a practice of which families are growing tired, not to mention the safety issue around sending kids around the neighbourhood, knocking on doors) a crowd funding campaign can be set up in just 10 to 15 minutes, and then maintained and driven with just a few minutes of commitment each day to continually communicate with “the crowd” via social media and email. As such, crowd funding represents a far safer and more efficient alternative to fetes and other fund raising events that require a mountain of effort and which run the risk of lack of turnout or even poor weather.

Crowd funding may just well be the perfect, holistic solution for the funding needs of most schools. Providing the cash they need, as well as a great engagement strategy with the local community, crowd funding will become the sustainable funding solution for schools to use for ongoing, rolling campaigns to fund their needs and aspirations.

Posted on January 30, 2017 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Bringing Your New Year’s Resolution to Reality

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionIt is well documented that most New Year’s resolutions never come to fruition. A high percentage of the best of intentions dissolve by the end of January, and seldom do any make it all the way through the 12 months. The key reasons for New Year’s resolutions not coming to light are a lack of planning, inadequate support or commitment, and a lack of funding to make the plans actually happen. For many, crowd funding may well be the key to a range of plans for the New Year actually being achieved.

Any quality crowd funding campaign will have been well thought through. The viability of the project and outcome will have been considered and researched. Benchmarks and quotations, obstacles and solutions – all will have been scoped out to ensure that the plan is logical and viable. It is this planning discipline that is lacking from many New Year’s resolutions, which are little more than whimsical hopes and aspirations. The planning and articulation of such strategies are what adds meat to the bones, and makes the desired outcomes more tangible and conceivable.

Running a marathon is not easy without a support crew. The runner’s team keeps them focused, enthused, and committed to achieving their goal, all the way to the end of the race. Should the runner’s mind wander or should they hit “the wall”, their team will be there to pick them up, and refocus them on the task at hand. The same can be said of crowd funding. It is very easy to give up when it’s just you, but when you have the support of your crowd, it is harder to give up and just drop the project. You also have the additional benefit of them getting behind you, cheering you on, and pushing you to achieving your goal. It is often said that a task shared is a task halved. This is very much the case with crowd funding, and a key way as to how crowd funding your New Year’s resolution can keep your supported and focused.

So many plans never come to pass due to insufficient funding. Set your funding goal to reflect an outcome that has been well costed. If you can, also set up a tipping point, a compromise where you might reach a lesser but more achievable goal should the crowd only support you to that level (it also gives you a second bite at the cherry to make your dream happen). Offer great, sought-after rewards and spread the word to your crowd, asking them to engage by supporting you as well as by getting the word out to their networks. Continue to drive your campaign from before your launch right to the very last day, even if you hit your target along the way (remember, you can very well over-fund your campaign, giving your dreams and resolutions far greater scope).

Now is the time to be considering your resolutions for the New Year. Perhaps this year, crowd fund your passion, and build your campaign and your team around your goals. Plan it well and articulate your project description to reflect a considered approach. Engage your crowd and your team early. Have your supporters ready to keep you on track, starting strong and focused on running a race with benchmarks and well thought out milestones. Make it clear to them as to how they can support you and what role they each need to play in helping you exceed what you have resolved to do. And with all of this in place, fund your plans with a well executed campaign. And if you have done this correctly, you will find your New Year’s resolution becoming reality, in far greater ways than you ever planned.

Merry Christmas from all at iPledg and here is to a happy and prosperous New Year that sees you fund and achieve your passion in 2017.

Posted on December 20, 2016 By iPledg With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – Setting a Target

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionHow much is too much? What is the right amount of funding to seek in a crowd funding campaign? And am I ready to start my campaign, given the size of my crowd versus the amount I wish to fund? These are all questions that potential crowd funders ask before starting a campaign. All valid questions, but experience has shown us that there are some guidelines as to how much you should ask for in a campaign, and how much might be too much to shoot for.

Firstly, a funding target is not an arbitrary figure, but a carefully calculated and researched amount based on the outcome or deliverables of the project. If your project is to build a widget, the cost to do so should be worked out as close to the final amount as possible. This then gives you the initial funding target for your campaign. Perhaps this amount can be broken down into stages (e.g. the cost of design, the cost of tooling, the cost of manufacture, and the cost of distribution), and if the overall funding requirement seems like too much of an ask, then perhaps the stages can be funded independently rather than trying to bite off too much in one go. This can be quite a strong strategic move, as those who fund a successful campaign will often go on to fund subsequent campaigns by that same campaign creator.

The sweet spot for pledge model crowd funding sits between $1,000 and $30,000. That is, most campaigns that get full funding sit between these amounts. The average size of a successful crowd funding campaign in Australia sits between $6,000 and $7,000. When working out a funding target, the second step (after costing the project to be funded) should be to take a moment to reflect against these numbers, and this will tell you straight away if your funding target is a big target, average, or quite reasonable.

Once you assess whether or not your target is a large one or reasonable by general crowd funding terms, you need to then consider how achievable it will be with your current level of contacts and networks. The best way to do this is to add up all the people with whom you have direct contact – your friends, email contacts, social media followers and connections, etc. Once you total that up and remove the double-ups, take just 10% of that figure, as typically just 10% of your network will pledge to your campaign. If you take into account that the average amount pledged is $50, you should multiply this by the number you arrived at (10% of your crowd) and this should give you a rough draft as to what figure you should aim for. If the amount you arrive at from this exercise is considerably less than your funding requirement, then you have 4 options:-

  1. You should perhaps aim for a lesser amount. What is it you could fund with fewer funds? Again, could you fund part of the overall project, and then go back for more once you successfully met your initial target?
  2. It is too early for you to start your campaign, and you should spend more time building up quality, relevant, and engaged contacts so you get closer to the number you require based on the exercise above (10% of your total network pledging and average of $50)
  3. You could perhaps come up with a schedule of vigorous and robust marketing initiatives, some of which would need to be done prior to the commencement of your crowd funding campaign, while other activities would need to be scheduled to occur early in the funding timeframe to give the campaign sufficient momentum for others to want to join in. You need to remember that you need to get to 25% of your funding target early in the campaign before total strangers jump on board. Think why people would want to back your campaign, and build your campaign description, promotion and rewards (inducements to pledge) to all be in alignment.
  4. A combination of the above initiatives

Setting a funding target for a crowd funding campaign needs you to assess where your target sits against common practice, and then is less about the amount you want to fund, and more about how your target relates to the potential crowd you can reach. Whilst a crowd funding platform will amplify your message, these effects will only come into play once you have established your own initial momentum. Set a realistic target in relation to the size of your crowd, and have a plan to engage them early, if not before the campaign begins so you have immediate traction. Follow these rules and you will maximise your chance of crowd funding success.

Posted on November 10, 2016 By DrDion With 0 comments

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Posted on October 19, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – You are “somebody” too

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionEach day, we are confronted by the media telling us of those who have been dealt a rough hand. Those who have had their lives devastated by Mother Nature, or those who are oppressed. Some suffer from medical conditions that effect their lives, with carers unable to afford or initiate the care required. There are people who have been mistreated or simply not given what they deserve. We often greet such articles with a shake of the head, and an internal dialogue that says “somebody should do something”. But that’s when you should stop – You need to realise that you are “somebody” too.

With the advent of social media, everyone now has the power to tinker away on their laptop or device and be in contact with literally the whole world. Everyone is a publisher, and everyone now has a voice. We all have the ability to build a following, engage a crowd, and motivate a group of people to act on a common cause.

Once the crowd is engaged, discussion begins. “Think tanks” can be coordinated and the pooling of ideas can easily be facilitated. Priorities and projects can be discussed and easily identified, and the planning for implementation can begin.

Workload can be delegated to the crowd, so time is no longer an issue. Collectively, crowds can find the time to get the job done.

Then we come to the issue of funding, and this is where crowd funding plays a vital role. The whole concept is based on engaged communities, each pitching in a small amount to reach a big total. It starts with a single, lone drummer, starting the beat to which everyone will march. Then others join in to “beat the drum” and to spread the word. The collective “beating of drums” can make a noise that is heard far and wide, attracting more interest, more involvement, and more action. This is the essence of crowd funding – the lone “somebody” starting a movement that is followed by those who are close by and equally as passionate, showing others how to follow and get involved, and then we have momentum.

You too can make a difference. You are the “somebody” to start a movement. Like the project, “Healing Rahena’s Heart” which was started by an individual thousands of miles away from the issue, or like project “Choice For Maia” which was initiated by a single mum who had a daughter with cancer, it takes just one person, one spark to light a raging fire. You too can be the catalyst of change, you can make a difference. There is always somebody required to make a change – You are “somebody”.

Posted on October 2, 2016 By DrDion With 0 comments

Crowd funding – Preparing for Christmas

iPledg - Logo - High ResolutionThe early signs of Christmas used to send the neurons into overdrive when I was a kid. That’s in stark contrast to the feelings conjured up when I walk through the shopping malls in August (sometimes earlier) and see the Christmas trees and tinsel being displayed months before the event, all in an attempt to capture the consumers’ dollar. But there is one Christmas initiative that is justifiably started months in advance of the Festive period, and that is a crowd funding campaign, especially conducted by charitable and community groups, to fund the great work they do over Christmas time.

Christmas time is a period of contrasts for those in the the not-for-profit, charitable and community sectors. During the festive season there is usually a heightening of demand for the the great work they conduct throughout the year, and this comes at a time when their revenues are typically in hiatus. Many of those who support such causes focus their attention to spending on presents, holidays or buying that costly Christmas turkey and trimmings, ready for when the relatives descend. So as the purse-strings tighten whilst demand increases, those who have made a mission out of servicing the community require other, more creative revenue streams to fund their activities during what is often their busiest time. This is where crowd funding steps up to the plate.

A well thought out and implemented crowd funding campaign, prepared and initiated in September, is likely to deliver the funding required to those who require it the most, just at the time when it is most needed. Crowd funding takes preparation, and then a period to deliver the campaign. To successfully deliver the Christmas funding required to provide for their busiest time of the year, community groups need to act now if they are to generate sufficient funding and support for their work.

The work for such a campaign needs to begin in September. Those wishing to run a campaign to generate funds for their Christmas needs must plan – who are their target market, what will make the best rewards, and what is the best method for communication? There is also the need to start preparing the collateral required – pictures, campaign description, and a short video that will help potential backers see your authenticity and sincerity. And then there is the crowd – time needs to be taken to build a broad base of engaged followers, ready to receive your pitch when your campaign goes live. Similar to a street performer who spends time gathering a crowd before starting his act, a campaign owner needs to spend time building a large enough crowd to entertain and engage with their campaign. It is not a matter of starting to campaign and they will come – time needs to be taken beforehand to hit the ground running as soon as the campaign begins.

If September is the month for preparation, that then allows for October and November to be the months in which to run the campaign. The optimal time frame for a crowd funding campaign is 60 days, so “going live” at the beginning of October gives a campaign just the right amount of time to get the attention of the crowd before they shift focus to the pre-Christmas madness. It also allows for your to tap into your first tier – family, friends, and closest supporters, so that they can not only support your campaign with a pledge, but get the word out for you to their networks – the “second tier”or friends of friends. This “second tier” is much larger than your immediate networks, so starting a Christmas campaign in October allows you time not only to tap into your crowd, but gives them time to leverage your message to a much larger audience.

If correctly prepared in September, and then effectively executed over October and November, a Christmas-focussed campaign delivers an early Christmas present to the charity, community group or not-for profit in early December. The funds, often more than the funding target sought, come rolling in. Typically the funds take up to a week to clear, so early December is the perfect timing for the money to come in, allowing those who run such campaigns sufficient time to allocate their expenditure to deliver their work as planned over Christmas.

If you are involved in the not-for profit sector, community groups, or a charity, you will well relate to the way in which funds are stretched over a time of year when they are most required. But now with crowd funding, there is an effective mechanism that will not only deliver at a time when you need it the most, but to so in an effective manner, amplifying the limited resources that may have restricted other fund raising activities while giving you reach beyond that which you have traditionally tapped.  Now is the time to act if you are to be ready for Christmas. The result will be a wonderful present to your organization, your supporters, and those who you serve.

Posted on September 1, 2016 By DrDion With 0 comments

Crowd Funding for Musicians – Putting It Together Makes Such Beautiful Music

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionThe modern age of crowd funding began in the 1990s with UK rock group, Marillion, so we start this year with that theme. Crowd funding has been the domain of the creative and artistic types who have been successfully using the medium to fund their dreams. But what is it they can fund? And what rewards can be offered to potential supporters to induce them to part with their money and help the project creator? Our latest blog incorporates the successes that have amounted to large sums having been raised by creative crowd funding campaigns by the musical fraternity.

Musicians are always in the need of better gear or more equipment to help them achieve the desired sound. Crowd funding can assist them afford the gear they need.

And once they have achieved the perfect sound, the costs of recording and capturing that sound for all eternity can be exorbitant, but crowd funding has been successfully used to cover the recording costs of bands and musicians over the years.

Once the sound has been perfected with the right equipment, and the tunes have been captured in digital or “hard-copy” format, it then is the job of the musician (or their promotional team) to get the word out to the world. That involves touring, and that can be costly, and then there’s the promotion of concerts and the recordings themselves. For almost 20 years, bands and solo performers have been using crowd funding to successfully cover these costs, paving the way for current musicians to do the same.

So with an understanding as to what can be funded, what inducements can be used by a musician entice their supporters to part with their cash to fund the campaign?

Let’s go with the rewards offered by successful campaigns that have been run around the world:-

A $10 pledge could be recognised with an offer of digital downloads, getting their music “out there” and (in effect) making pre-sales. Successfully doing this tends to bolster social proof that there is an audience for the band’s music, which is a powerful tool for the band to use when convincing venue-owners to book their act. Approaching a venue owner with evidence that the performers have made strong sales makes for a compelling argument to book them.

A $25 pledge may earn the supporter a ticket (or a couple of tickets), to a gig, again offering a form of pre-sales and validation. It is always reassuring for an event organiser to have had presales made, and with the all-or-nothing nature of crowd funding campaigns, ticket sales are only made and the event only proceeds if the funding targets are met – a win / win for all concerned.

A pledge of $50 may earn the project supporter some other merchandise at prices less than face value. Remember, rewards need to be great value and sought after. Perhaps even offering bundled rewards – a t-shirt plus a CD – may represent something that a true fan may really want. Keep in mind, too, that items in short supply or gifts that are personalised can command a premium. By autographing these types of rewards, supporters may be prepared to pay a premium (imagine if crowd funding had been around in the days of the Beatles when they were young – what would a T-shirt autographed by a young John Lennon be worth today if offered back then??)

Offering personal experiences have often proven to be successful enticements to get supporters to pledge. Rewards like offering fans to sit in on practice sessions, or to come along and jam with the band can be highly attractive to die hard devotees.

Stepping it up a few notches, larger pledges worth hundreds or thousands of dollars could be rewarded by a private performance (offering the services of the group to play at a party, or the singer to perform a couple of romantic songs at an anniversary dinner).

And if these aren’t incentive enough, remember that everyone loves to see their name in lights (or, at least, in print). Offering to put the supporter’s name on the liner notes or on a roll of honour on your website could be just the carrot to get them to hand over their money in support of your campaign. Larger contributions can be recognised by offering the supporter “producer status” on your liner notes or CD sleeve.

So there are the “what”, the “why” and the “how”. Now it just remains for more musicians to recognise the “where” and use the above framework to launch their crowd funding campaign on www.ipledg.com to fund their passion.

Posted on August 4, 2016 By iPledg With 0 comments

Bericht von medizinisches Fallstudie Online-Kundenservice für Medizinstudenten

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Posted on July 29, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments

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Posted on July 29, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments

Crowd Funding – The Second Bite of the Cherry is Often the Sweetest

iPledg - Logo - Low-ResolutionThe old adage is well known – “If at first you don’t succeed….”. But never has it been so true as with crowd funding, that if you don’t meet your target the first time round, it is best to get back on the bike and have another go. With hindsight and the wisdom of experience, those initiating campaigns are increasing their chances of success by having a second attempt. Crowd funding is not only proving to be a great vehicle for raising funds, but a perfect platform for testing assumptions and the market with little or no cost.

It is well documented that success rates on crowd funding platforms around the world sit around 40%. That is approximately 40% of all campaigns that are profiled on crowd funding sites meet or exceed their funding target. It should also be noted that 20% of campaigns don’t raise a single cent, usually due to the campaign owner not understanding the essence of crowd funding, being ill-prepared, or being totally inactive. For the remaining 40% (those who do get off the ground but fall short of their target), going back for a second attempt usually proves more fruitful with the knowledge gained in their first attempt:-

Size of the Target

The average funding target of all successfully crowd funded campaigns in Australia sits between $6,000 and $7,000. Many unsuccessful campaigns have a target considerably higher than this. Whilst everyone is keen to “hit the long ball”, sometimes it is better to aim for a more manageable and achievable target. Going back for a second attempt is a great way to have a more realistic look at the size of the potential audience. It is an opportunity to work out the true size of your immediate “first tier”, and work your target around that. Keeping in mind that the average pledge is $50 and that 10% of your database will pledge, it is best to either set your target around that amount, or spend time building your database to get to the numbers you need before you launch.

Initial Momentum

Before you launch, have your media collateral ready, including the plan for contacting the local papers, radio and TV. Plan to do some “stunts” like hand out flyers, especially at events that align with your campaign. Make sure you hit the ground running, with your plan thought out, ready to hit it hard as soon as you launch. In fact, have your first followers primed and committed. Remember, stats show that if you have 0% funded in the first 48 hours, your chances of reaching your target are just 15%. However, as you increase the percentage of funding achieved in the first 48 hours, you drastically increase your chances of achieving success (to the point whereby campaigns that meet 35% of their funding goal within the first 48 hours meet or exceed their funding target in almost every case). Too many campaigns that fail to meet their target waste precious time in the first weeks of their campaign, and rue it as the clock gets close to the end of the timeframe. Remember, initial inertia determines outcomes.

Inducements or Rewards

From the first attempt, campaign owners will learn which rewards are the most popular, and which have little or no uptake by the crowd. This knowledge will allow for the creation of a revised menu of rewards the second time around. Also, it is a good time to review the “maths” around the rewards versus the target. If your most popular reward is $50 and your target is $40,000, then you will need a huge amount of people committing to that reward tier. Now is the time to either bring your target more into alignment with your suite of rewards, or introduce some more high-value rewards to achieve significant steps to your funding target.

The Crowd

Most importantly, ensure you start with a band of supporters to give the campaign its initial momentum. As mentioned above, your “first tier” will validate your campaign. They will bring on your “Second tier” or friends of friends to give it momentum. And then the Third tier comes in to play to really take your campaign towards funding and over funding. You can read more about the Third Tier Principle be clicking here. When you run a campaign, you can get the database of those who pledged the first time round, and ask for their feedback on which you can build your second attempt. Remember, whether it is a really successful campaign, or whether you are at the stage of revisiting an attempt that fell short, the true value of crowdfunding isn’t the money – it’s the people. Engage, build, and engage again.

And for those who are successful, Success breeds more success

It is not only those who have fallen short the first time around who go back for a second attempt with crowd funding. In fact, those with one successful project under their belts have nearly double the chances of success—73%—of reaching their next funding goal. The team behind the Pebble watch raised $10.2mil the first time around, then went back for a second go, raising $20.3 million. Those with multiple successful campaigns to their credit say momentum is the key. Whether successful or not the first time around, loyal supporters will continue to come back again and again, as long as you maintain momentum. Contact supporters straight after the end of a campaign, and thank then whether you were successful or not. Ask them what they liked and what they didn’t. And, most of all, welcome them to your family and your ongoing journey.

And remember, when it comes to crowdfunding, to try, try, and try again.

Posted on July 21, 2016 By Bryan V With 0 comments

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Posted on July 19, 2016 By Bob With 0 comments