Thursday, 23 October 2014

How we crowd-funded $7,000 in 2 months

For a small non-profit like Peace Palette, raising funds is always a challenge.

We have the vision, the people, the plans and the energy to make a world of difference for the people of South Sudan, but how do we fund it? Or more importantly, how do we connect the people who want to help to our work.




It’s never easy, but there have been some innovations in fundraising in recent years that have helped smaller organisations like ours. And recently, we gave one of them a go — crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding has been really popular in recent years in generating funds for art projects. Musicians and authors have been able to raise their own funds for their work, rather than relying on corporations to fund them. And the key part of this are the perks. For an art project, you can create incentives for different donation levels — a copy of the book for $50; a ticket to the launch event for $100; and in some cases, people have been able to be a character in the story for a large donation!

So how can we apply this model to charity fundraising?

We weren't exactly sure, but we gave it a go anyway!

We knew that we had to connect people not to Peace Palette, but to the actual work. So we broke it down, made it tangible, and framed it around the plan to buy a maize grinder and use it not only to make food, but to generate funds for the Nhomlau Children’s Centre. Aya's friend, Ian Jones came up with the wonderful name — an aMaizing Social Enterprise.

We had to choose a platform. I had met with Prashan, the founder of Chuffed.org and he had overseen some great successes with similar organisations. And it was important to us that 100% of the donation goes to Peace Palette. Each donor could choose to add an additional amount to support Chuffed.org

 Next was coming up with the perks. We made a list of what we could provide to incentivise each amount, and built it into the site. People always surprise you, and we were surprised by what people were interested in, and what they weren’t. For example, higher priced items such as writing of donors’ names the motorbike (a part of the social enterprise plan) were so popular, we managed to find room for extras!
 The final and most important step was of course promotion. Without promotion, it wouldn't have raised any money at all. So we emailed all of Peace Palette’s contacts, all our personal contacts, promoted it like crazy on social media, included it in newsletters etc etc. And sure enough (thankfully) it began to take off. People obviously connected with the really tangible outcomes of this appeal.
 We set out target at $8000, and while we didn’t quite get there ($7130) it was still a fantastic result for Peace Palette and will go a long way to creating a sustainable, income generating social enterprise at the Nhomlau Children’s Centre.
Once the rainy season is over, we will finally purchase the item to get an aMaizing social enterprise off the ground.

Charlie Syme
Peace Palette volunteer committee member.