Crowdfunding (CF) presentation, Thu 30 Aug 2018, AORTIC Secretariat (Mowbray, Cape Town)
On Thursday 30 August 2018, Belle & Co. Associate Alexandre Rodrigues presented a lecture on non-profit financing in South Africa, with a focus on crowdfunding. Alex is a CAIA (Certified Alternative Investment Analyst) charter holder, and works as an investment principal at Edge Growth, an SME growth specialist and impact investor.
The presentation delivered by Alex covered the following topics:
- What is crowdfunding?
- How does crowdfunding work?
- How do you put a campaign together?
- What resources do you need?
- What platforms can you use?
The presentation lasted an hour and participants in attendance were mostly from cancer non-profit companies (NPCs) AORTIC and CANSA. Only a few participants had had some exposure to crowdfunding, with one having run an entire campaign on rewards-based international CF platform Indiegogo (to raise funding for a music concert), another having used GivenGain (also a global CF platform, but charity-based) for on-going small donations (for their cancer related NPC) whilst the last person had mostly only heard of CF (in a corporate model run by a financial services firm, OUTvest by Outsurance – a way to crowdfund one’s investing goals).
Alex began the presentation by highlighting the main sectors that use crowdfunding (social causes at 30% followed by small businesses/ entrepreneurs at 17%, with creative industries in third place at 12%). The various types of CF models were then briefly discussed (equity, rewards, charity and peer-to-peer/P2P lending) before the global stats on the quantum of financing raised via this mechanism were shown (over $50bn worldwide in 2016, with most devoted to P2P lending at over 75%). SA examples of platforms offering the various CF models were presented (rewards-based: Thundafund, equity: UpRise.Africa, charity: Back-a-buddy and P2P: PeerFin/ Rainfin).
The presentation went on to describe the elements of successful campaigns (e.g. use of rich media like videos, short but punchy copy, tools to share the campaign on social media, deadlines on fundraising plus realistic targets, reaching the “tipping point” within the first 2/3 weeks etc), with a focus on South African rewards-based CF examples (mostly taken from SA CF platform Thundafund), including: Land for Lions, Siki’s Coffee Revolution and “Know Your Water”.
Alex then explained what factors to consider when choosing a CF platform for one’s campaign (fees, type of funding: all-or-nothing or keep what you raise, ability to use/ incorporate multimedia, social media sharing tools etc), before delving into the importance of defining what you need the funds for and why (clarity of purpose to engage your supporters).
The presenter then stressed the importance of having a (realistic) fundraising goal and ensuring that the campaign length is optimal (SA data on rewards-based CF campaigns show that the average successful campaign raises ~R25k over 9 weeks).
Alex then went on to explain how campaigns run by dynamic teams rather than just an individual generally outperform (mix of skills and broader networks), and how maintaining a budget for the project and campaign is key to avoid running out of cash during fundraising and execution of the project.
Towards the end of the presentation, Alex explained the significance of planning, especially during the critical times of one month prior to launch (ensuring the content is ready – rich media like photos and videos, plus copy for the story, milestones to report back to community on progress, thank you letters to donors/ supporters etc) as well as on the day (stressing the importance of being able to “launch in a day”, i.e. go all out during the 24 hours after the campaign goes live, sending links to the campaign via social media, emails and even considering a launch party to drum up excitement for the project).
Alex explained the significance of feeding back to the community throughout the campaign as an essential way to keep interest and momentum, i.e. maintaining the campaign, especially given the fact that up to 65% of the funds raised are done so in the first 2 and last 2 weeks (i.e. the importance of starting and ending strong) of a campaign. It was noted that campaigns that didn’t get past the 30-40% fundraising mark in the first 2-3 weeks were unlikely to reach their goal by the end of the campaign.
Lastly, Alex walked the crowd through his experiences running his own charity-based CF campaign 5 years ago (in 2013) and what he did well (short, punchy copy; a thank you to donors) versus what he did poorly (lack of rich media, no updates to supporters etc). The presentation ended with some general Q&A, during which participants asked questions such as: “what the best platform to raise charitable funding in SA was” (local platform vs international; answer: depends on if campaign could have global appeal or not, i.e. for cancer-related causes, either one could work), and “what a cancer NPC could use CF to raise funding for” (e.g. sending an underprivileged scientist to an international cancer conference; to pay for the publication/ printing of a cancer directory etc).
The group then broke for refreshments and general socializing, with catering provided for by AORTIC.