Asking your friends for money is inevitably awkward, especially if they are cash-strapped college kids like ourselves. But our experience with crowdfunding has shown that it is much more than simply pestering acquaintances for donations (although we’ve done our fair share of that, too). It is about effectively sharing a story that people can rally behind – a story that inspires people to care, and inspires people to act. That concept was at the heart of every unit covered in COM 408: Media, Art and Social Activism this semester. As the semester wraps up (seriously where did the time go?), our class still has one important goal to achieve: Raise funds to finance Yasini “Yacn” Biggo’s tuition, so he can graduate from The University of Dar Es Salaam, become a successful lawyer, and protect women and children from Tanzania who are isolated in society. Because this is a hefty task, our professor divided the class into teams based on our strengths and interests.
The Brilliant Polyglot, Francesca Akaton
For a first time doing an online fundraising campaign, I felt confident when it came to spread the word and tell people about it. After doing my researches on Yasini’s background, listening to the Professor’s advices and above all knowing how much it was close to the heart of a classmate, I easily could easily come up with ideas on how to sensitize friends, family and acquaintances. In other words, I did not mind asking people money for Yasini because I believed that if we care about the cause so much, there is gotta be somewhere in people’s heart that same feeling that we can trigger. Moreover, the best part about it is that I could do it in more languages and so reach more people.
The struggle in the mission though is not so much having to ask people but more the fact that we
would have to personalize the message and have to explain the situation every time. The real challenge I faced however was thinking about new non material perks that we could give the donors to show our gratitude. Most of what I thought of would have to be shipped to their countries and that would have complicated the situation.
In the end I would like to add that I am happy we could also do an offline donation so I could contribute and many students in our campus as well since I am not a fan of using money online. Thanks to the possibility of fundraising offline, on behalf of my classmates, I managed to start fundraising before the day of the launching of the crowdfunding campaign so we could start with an advantage. Thus more than €85 were raised for Yasini and I am very grateful to our donors. I am confident that with this pace, Yasini will manage to successfully get his degree and pursue his mission.
The Debonair Environmentalist, Max Lippitt
This was my first online crowdfunding campaign, so I didn’t really know what to expect. The part I was most nervous about was definitely asking my friends and family for money. I had already done a small campaign for my own study abroad funds with the same group of people a few months ago, and I didn’t want them to think I only cared about them for money. At first, I just posted the link and a short explanation of the project to various facebook groups I am a member of. Unfortunately, that effort did not prevail, as not one person from any of those groups donated. So, I did what I didn’t want to do and started private messaging people. At first, I started with relatives who I knew would support me and then I moved on to some friends. I realized that I was more successful when I didn’t stress the money as much, and just stressed how we need numbers of the indiegogo page and how important the project was. I am extremely excited to keep persuading friends and family to donate and I cant wait to meet our goal.
The Maverick Marketer, Natalie Kozma
The most challenging part of the online crowdfunding process was to attract attention to the campaign – or differentiate, as my fellow marketers would say, from the other equally noble campaigns who are fighting to gain a following and generate donations, and the silly ones that queerly gain popularity. With only a few weeks to launch the campaign, it felt too ambitious and a smidge naive for us to create new social media accounts specifically for Yasini’s tuition fundraiser. We didn’t have the time, money or resources to gain a following on social platforms — but we did have a class of 8* students already active on Facebook and Twitter with a large personal networks. Banking on students’ extrinsic motivations, we adopted a simple strategy of offering our classmates extra credit for doing the following:
- Send an email about the project to at least 15 friends
- Share the indigo-go link at least twice through some sort of social media platform, once must be on the day the campaign launches, and it is required you share it on on Facebook.
- Share one photo or update (quote, meme, photo of Yasini…etc.) on Facebook during the second week of the campaign.
- Volunteer at least a half hour at the donation booth or diversity week booth
- Like and comment on the Social Active WordPress blog post to promote the event.