Kicking Out Kickstarter

Kicking Out Kickstarter

Crowd Funding

flower-fundWhy does it take a global controversy to alert Catholic Christians to the obvious: The secular world has become increasingly hostile to the good, the true and the beautiful. There’s an uncharitable urge to chuckle whenever someone ‘discovers’ a company, organization or government engaging in some kind of specifically anti-Catholic or generally anti-Christian manner. (Pssst. The whole world is generally anti-Christian—has been for a while.)

That’s why the recent hysteria surrounding the popular crowd-funding platform’s decision to arbitrarily deny a group the opportunity to utilize its platform to raise revenue for their film doesn’t seem merited. While it’s surprising that Kickstarter would risk losing out on anywhere between 5%-9% of $2.1 million in fees, it’s no major shock they would disallow these folks to use their site based on the proposed content since Gosnell represents a distinctly drawn, moral line in the sand.

Silicon valley has long been a bastion of libertarian-esque political thought and the world’s power structures—in the third millennium—have generally become left-leaning save for a few pockets of resistance. So…how is this any different than 2,000 years ago? The Roman Empire in a nutshell: “Big government?” Check. Infanticide? Check. Discrimination against Christians? A big check on that one too.

So why grumble?

Are we not a people called to wait in joyful hope for the second coming?

Of course we are. But that doesn’t mean we have to sit out crowd-funding or await apprehension and anxiety about participating in the world. We can support one another. We can be in the world, not of the world, and also engage the world simultaneously. And through the Internet, it’s becoming ever more easy to do just that. Is it counter-cultural? Naturally. Welcome to Christianity 101.

Look at CSA’s as an alternative to corporate grocers with whom you disagree. Upset with Obamacare? Enroll in a Health Care Sharing Ministry. Don’t want to support Starbucks’ progressive agenda? Visit a Panera or check out HIS Coffee Company. Will any of these be the ultimate solutions to your problems? Of course not; the world has no perfect solutions to offer (it’s the world, not paradise).

However, making the simple sacrifice of driving an extra mile to patronize a different location or paying an extra fee for a premium that doesn’t fund the morally reprehensible is a major act of good will. These acts not only work toward the common good, but can profoundly help our brothers and sisters in this world. This may seem like going out on a limb, but when we take part in these small actions, we can even positively impact salvific history.

This is fundamentally different than a boycott to try and engineer social or corporate policy. That tactic rarely works. Rather, it’s about engaging in a positive versus a negative. Instead of boycotting Supermarket A to “send a message,” why not support Supermarket C? The message is sent with much less animosity and far greater clarity. The people you support, in turn, will promote good works such as a church or pro-life ministry instead of donations to “charities” that do more harm than good. Now, Supermarket C may not exist where you live—so why not start it?

It might seem zany, but that’s exactly what we did.

We love crowd-funding. The practice has revolutionized fundraising campaigns because it provides a way to enhance traditional development and draw from the power of the web. But we grumbled every time we recommended a client to IndieGogo or Kickstarter because of the fees and because, well, we just figured as much. If a company isn’t Christ-centered, then who knows what its revenue ultimately funds? Now there’s an alternative.

FlowerFund is our new crowd-funding platform that welcomes, encourages and aids pro-life, pro-family and, well, any type of project. We will never reject an initiative to raise funds for a pro-life film, ministry or project. What’s more, the real difference between our platform and the rest is that we build in marketing support for your project (if approved), charge significantly less in fees (the lowest in the entire field), and ensure that any profit goes to help causes in which we can all believe. (Pssst. It’s also Catholics helping other Catholics.)

This spring, consider FlowerFund as the platform to use for your crowd-funding campaign and together, let’s kick out a message that we are a people of hope. Let’s tell the world that we’re tired of getting bullied around and that we’re not going to wait until the next big platform rejects a project on the basis of religious or political views. We’re Catholic and we should be smarter than that. After all, we eventually turned Rome from an Empire that excoriated Christianity to one that embraced it.

Can we not do the same for the web in 2014?

This post originally ran on Catholic Lane.

Yes, Crowd-Funding Is Still Fun

Yes, Crowd-Funding Is Still Fun

Blog

What a difference 10 months can make. In reflecting on the transformation our website has undergone to enhance its mobile optimization, esthetics and functionality, we had to bid farewell to a really unique feature I loved: the full-page slider widget that embraced the style with which we launched our small firm in early 2013.

In migrating the elements of our previous site to the new WordPress home, our team reviewed the copy and imagery and we happened to stumble across the previous blog post that attempted to offer some insight into what was then seen as a rapidly expanding phenomenon. It turns out, the funding fad hadn’t even scratched the surface.

Fast forward to earlier this year when the Wall Street Journal‘s Lora Kolodny treated her 8K+ followers (or should I say tweeted her 8K+ followers) to an interesting take on a very visible parallel between Apple’s iPhone vs. Google’s Android operating system. Her blog post suggests Indiegogo will become the Android of crowdfunding vs. Kickstarter’s Apple.

Totally Agree!

Of course, it’s pretty easy to agree with a prominent writer for one of the world’s most influential publications, but I felt even more vindicated that I had given up my Blackberry for an Android-based Samsung Galaxy S 4-mini because we’ve recommended IndieGogo to our clients versus KickStarter for some time. Again, not a difficult call to make.

What really interested us about this blog post is that it unlocked the realization that as crowd-funding 2.0 (or 3.0 depending on how savvy you are) emerges, the comparison is even more prophetic. Consider at one point how Blackberry or Microsoft dominated their markets, only to be toppled out of nowhere by a “third way”.

It’s not that IndieGogo is like Android, but rather that crowd-funding platforms, like anything else, are just products that have been effectively placed within the market. There’s nothing to suggest we won’t have many different platforms and that’s exactly what 2014 is bringing: a slew of competitors looking to establish themselves as alternatives to the monoliths.

The Third Way…A Little Way?

So where does all this lead? Back to St. Thérèse of course! The saint who showed us the little way has shown us where crowd-funding goes next: a new, unique platform that caters to parishes and ministries. That’s FlowerFund, the crowd-funding platform for parishes, schools and ministries to grow and develop their resources and bring in new donors.

This is different than online giving. Online giving allows existing members of a parish who are already signed up to contribute online. FlowerFund allows anyone from a parish community to contribute to a particular project and share their participation through social media. It’s the online equivalent of chatting with fellow parishioners around a free-will offering after Mass.

Capital campaigns in the new millennium should embrace crowd-funding as a supplement to their traditional methods of raising funds to pay for roofs, boilers, expansions or new programming. Why? Because not only will an online capital campaign increase revenue receipts, but it can also serve as a profoundly positive tool that shows what a faith community is doing online.

Low-Cost, Headache Free Capital Campaigns

Consider what your parish could to raise funds for, let’s say a heating system. By adopting an added online platform through which you can raise funds, you could establish or enhance your Facebook, Twitter and web presence, attracting new members to your faith community. Maybe that millenial parent just happens to be looking for a church to baptize the next sibling now that they’ve moved.

So what’s stopping your faith community from growing? Visit FlowerFund.com today.

Modern Day Loaves & Fishes: Putting the ‘Fun’ in Crowd-Funding

Modern Day Loaves & Fishes: Putting the ‘Fun’ in Crowd-Funding

Uncategorized

loaves-fishesSometimes it feels like organizing a successful crowd-funding campaign might require just as big a miracle as the multiplication of the loaves and fishes…

It seems a new crowd-funding campaign (CFC) is launching every minute, and whether it’s Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or another mechanism, a new CFS platform is popping up to help you solicit and organize online giving as often as a campaign. It’s safe to say, the crowd-funding craze is here to stay—at least for 2013. That can put pressure on your organization to launch one already! After all, it must be really, really easy if everyone is doing it.

Now that a host of producers, entrepreneurs and projects have successfully kick-started their project into first gear, the big question for you is “Where do I begin?”

First, some background: Crowd-Funding is the implementation of an online social platform to generate revenue for projects through digital solicitation. Given the popularity and success of thousands of startup campaigns and the availability to reach large audiences at low cost through social platforms, there’s never been a better time to engage in a crowd-funding campaign for your project. What’s the catch? You could fail miserably, which might not only demoralize you, but dampen the credibility or viability of your project or organization. After all, it’s terrific and laudable to see this type of campaign succeed, but it’s tough to see it fail—especially since everyone else seems to be succeeding so readily.

So, how do you make sure you’re set up for success?

Forbes notes key strategies for success:

  • Allocate enough time and resources: successfully completing a crowd-funding campaign is not magic. It takes drive, research and a healthy amount of time.
  • Keep expectations realistic: Sort through your networks and tally up likely backers. Assume each will give $20-$25 and drop that by 10-15%.
  • Market the campaign well: Create a video people can watch so they can share your dream
  • Implement a plan: Manage expectations by creating benchmarks. Identify specific dates and goals and map out different ways to arrive there. Include several scenarios.
  • Stay interactive with your audience: Your contributors are sharing and funding your dream, so they deserve your gratitude.  Say thank you often and go out of your way to show your appreciation for them.

Putting the Success in Crowd-Funding: A Case Study

The Triumph - Case Study

Creatively combining organic & boosted posts can increase your audience.

Crowd-Funding can be tremendously successful for projects with very niche audiences as well, as evidenced with our recent collaboration on the film, The Triumph.

The Triumph is a powerful new documentary by award-winning filmmaker Sean Bloomfield, director of If Only We Had Listened with Immaculée Ilibagiza and Producer Zaid Jazrawi.

The Triumph was produced on a shoestring budget and the team needed an infusion of funds to bring this film to as wide an audience as possible.

Additionally, because of the controversial nature of the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje, it was difficult to go to traditional funding sources since the Church has yet to approve these apparitions, purportedly taking place now for more than 30 years (the Church never approves an apparition until that apparition ceases and in many cases, such an approval takes years after the event).

In order to fulfill their vision, the team set an ambitious goal of $50,000 through IndieGogo, recognizing that, unlike Kickstarter, all donations could be received even if the full goal wasn’t realized.

The story is suspenseful as the campaign lasted 45 days but only hit its half-way mark two weeks before the deadline. What we learned in driving traffic to the campaign is a lesson that should resonate with every organizer of a crowd-funding campaign: Digital Fundraising is the same as Traditional Fundraising.

In addition to creativity and vision, a successful development campaign must demonstrate urgency, specificity and viability in a compelling and consistent way. In the Information Age, a successful campaign—crowd-funding or otherwise—must also be clever, nimble and cut through the clutter of online ads, e-mails, tweets and the everyday distractions of family, friends and finances. Finally, the campaign should begin with a base and set its expectations from a realistic estimation of the capability of that base.

And it did. With just a few days left, The Triumph crowd-sourced over $50,000 in capital ahead of its goal and eclipsed the $55K mark with minutes left on the clock. By growing an online community of support using promotions, a combination of boosted posts (because we’re not convinced Facebook ads work and we’re not alone) and organic growth on social media, The Triumph…well…triumphed! But there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears behind the scenes as well as a dedicated group who essentially worked as full-time development professionals for an entire month.

It’s easy to get as overwhelmed as the Apostles were when they wanted Jesus to send the crowd away. But through their willingness to place their faith in Him, they fed a crowd of 5,000+. Almost makes it seem like raising $5K through a well-planned CFC isn’t so hard after all…it might even be fun.

Looking for some more information on Crowd-Funding and Online Fundraising?

One common question is Does SEM help the cause? Google AdWords doesn’t allow for the solicitation of funds unless your project is tax-exempt. However, driving traffic to your site with an effective landing page can supplement your entire method of solicitation. Utilize your crowd-funding widgets to show that other people are contributing and that’s an effective way to reach a wider audience.

Just Ask!

Feel free to call, e-mail or tweet with your queries. We’re happy to chat and want to know what the next big thing is—that could be your apostolate, film project or faith-inspired idea that will change the world.

Little Flower Strategies is New Marketing for the New Evangelization and our team has extensive development and (award winning) digital media experience. That’s a powerful combination and we want it to work for you and Him!