Indigenous communities around the world are faced with a greater number of challenges than ever before as governments globally struggle with funding in a post GFC environment. But, as ever, necessity continues to be the mother of all new initiatives, and the opportunity for indigenous causes to raise the dollars they so badly need may well lie in crowd funding.
As government coffers tighten and grant funding contracts, communities seek new and innovative methods to raise the capital they need to fund farming projects, employment programs, cultural initiatives, art studios, and infrastructure schemes. To be heard, fund raising programs need to be different, or communicated to the crowd in a manner unlike the traditional fund raising campaigns. Crowd funding, whilst being the fastest growing form of e-commerce on the planet, still represents a new and exciting way to stand out from the other organisations eagerly seeking community support and funding through more traditional methods.
Indigenous campaigns by their very nature usually have a story to tell, and a passion around their campaign, making for a great project description. This is the first ingredient of a robust funding campaign. The next is a short video or pictures, images that tell a story within themselves, and fascinate the reader or prospective project supporter. Finally, there are the rewards. They need to be creative and sought after, enticing people to get involved and pledge their support. A simple entry-level reward could be an emailed picture with a letter of thanks, stepping up to a sketch personally drawn for larger pledges. Small artwork can be used as medium tiers of support, with larger pieces or even artifacts used as a way of saying thanks for larger pledges. A recording of a performance with some personal touches recognising the project supporter would also be well received. Using the internet can also help get rewards out there, by way of a webinar-like performance or story-telling for selected audiences who have pledged their support. Rewards for really large pledges (from perhaps corporate sponsors) could be a performance of indigenous dance or music at a particular function.
Once the campaign has been established with a well worded description, a short video and some pictures, and some carefully selected rewards, it is a matter of going about and engaging a fascinated and willing broader community beyond that of the community who are actually seeking the funding. Social media and blogging are great ways to get the word out, not only by sending out information about the campaign, but asking others to spread the word. There is also the traditional media, hungry for stories about something new or different, and what could be more unique than an indigenous community using new technology like crowd funding to get the word out to a global community.
But perhaps the biggest benefit offered by crowd funding is the ability to engage the crowd, not just for a one-off donation, but for ongoing involvement and support. Crowd funding gets the audience to come along for the journey, and to become an ongoing part of the solution. It is a great way to build a community around the ongoing needs of the indigenous, and to assist with the development of sustainable programs to assist across a range of needs.