You need money for your project? Did you try with crowdfunding? Not a bad idea but actually a not easy one

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Are you running short of ideas on how to raise money for your project? Do you want to go beyond traditional sources of funding? Then welcome to crowdfunding planet, an easy way to raise money through public on line campaigning.

You write your compelling story in a simple, short way in order to communicate to t potential donors, possibly with the help of a short video.

The project will then be published on dedicated web sites normally run by for profit companies taking commissions out of what you are able to raise.

There area multitude of specialized web sitesyou can choose from in what is seen as a very competitive market to back ideas with the best shot of funding.

Is it that easy? Absolutely not but thatis what I naively thought when ENGAGE designed a campaign for Paras, a friend of mine living with thalassemia, a very severe blood disorder that requires transplant midol.

Moreover the drugs have a prohibitive cost and no genericversions are manufactured butI was naïve enough to believe that we could easily attract the generosity of people around the world for what I thought was a good cause.

After a long screening, we ended up choosing Indiegogo, probably one of the most famous and effective crowdfunding sites.

Lesson number one: if you live in a developing country with marginal financial on line transactions, you will find it incredibly hard to launch a crowd funding campaign. I would say it is almost impossible.

Basically all private for profit companies like Indiegogo are based in the USA and although they offer different payment options, they are almost all reliant on Pay Pal, an on line payment system that still does not fully work in a country like Nepal, meaning that if you live in a developing country, you are easily cut out.

Still I believe that perseverance and determination wins. So after infinite exchange of mails with Indiegogo’s customers service (they are really good in this, no complaints at all) we found a very lengthy, complex and expensive way to operate the campaign through multiple banks’ wires.

We envisioned an advocacy and campaigning project that would have allowed Paras to attend the World Thalassemia Conference in Abu Dhabi plus a strong lobbying effort in Nepal in order to raise awareness about the disease. Paramount to the proposal was to engage the Ministry of Health and Population AND advocate Novartis, the leading pharma company for thalassemia, for easier and cheaper access to the treatment.

My friends helped out with quite a lot. For example, Mohan Rai of Middle Way Films, a communication house based in Kathmandu,shot, pro bono, a nice video. Michael Rosenkrantz, VSO Volunteer, offered precious feedback on the narrative.

Done with very few resources, the campaign turned out to be nice.

Finally, although with delays the campaign was on line. I was pretty optimistic. We had done our homework and it seems to me that Paras’ story was compelling and noble enough to attract $8000 USD necessary for its implementation. After all, I had seen people get funded to pay for their master degrees or to take part in sport competitions.

Lesson number two: in order to raise money, you need to be super equipped and alreadyhave some money.

After a few days I realized that there was no on line movement and no visibility was offered from the main homepage of Indiegogo. Although it was published on line, it was almost impossible to track it down.

I had already sent the campaign’s link to quite a large number of persons and networks I was in touch with and with the campaign on line, I thought the job was done and donations would automatically pour in. I was totally wrong.

After some prompt advice by Indiegogo supporting staff ( all nice folks), I was recommendedto create some “real” buzz by sendingmore e-mails, by posting in all the possible social media platforms available and use different tools like press releases, public meetings, and even setting up a launching committee.

Following their advices, I tried my best begging all of my friends and known people to circulate the campaign through social media; I posted several updates and I wrote a couple of articles about it on this web site:

Then I realized that in order to be a successful fundraiser through crowdfunding, you “only” need to have:

-an incredible domain of social media platform, including web marketing;

-communication and public relations expertise;

-connection with lots of people; and

-be sure to have someone ready and committed to donate before uploading your campaign (I was tempted to do it myself. Would have it been considered cheating? )


It is not enough to have a good idea: you need to have a marketing plan, sponsors and be good enough to get some media attention. You create momentum, then you need to build on that early on, scaling it up and keep persons engaged. All these factors are essential in order to draw the interest of “gogofactor”, a merit-based, data-driven method Indiegogo use to rank campaigns and therefore highlight them in the main home page.


To conclude, Indiegogo defines crowdfunding as “The pooling of small contributions of funds from a group of people for the purpose of making something larger happen”


Which people are ready to pool funding? You can get people around the world behind your idea but how to reach them? How to raise some interest from the mysterious gogofactor? How to rank different campaigns in a fair manner? Is social media traffic more important than merit while judging a campaign?


In a short it is not that easy to seduce the googofactor. In all this I failed miserably.


Not a penny was raised nor Novartis provided any support but at least Paras, thanks to a last minute scholarship from WHO managed to attend the world summit. Maybe the campaign played a little role in that. After all not that bad, despite the gogofactor!!!!



Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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