DEAR HARRIETTE: My partner and I created a crowdfunding campaign where people can donate money for our project. We wanted to raise $25,000 in a month's time. The goal was a lofty one, and we did not meet our numbers. We only raised $1,500 in 30 days. I am disappointed that more people did not give to our campaign. I plan to create another crowdfunding attempt some time soon, and I would like to know what can I do to ensure a more successful endeavor in the future. -- It Takes a Village, Nashville, Tennessee
DEAR IT TAKES A VILLAGE: I remember when the notion of crowdfunding came into our collective awareness. It sounded amazing, but almost too good to be true. My question was: Why would people I don't know choose to give me money? Now I've seen how Barack Obama, then presidential candidate, used it to collect massive numbers of $5 offerings from the American public. So, I could see that it can work. But the difference between him and me, or average folks like most of us, is that he had a clear agenda with a machine behind it.
What many people do not realize when they engage crowdfunding sources is that they need to have a complete marketing plan in place before simply asking for money. It is important to have an appealing presentation and a clear understanding of your target audience before you invite them to support you. Otherwise, it won't work. I interviewed veteran filmmaker Bill Duke (http://theroottv.theroot.com/video/Can-Crowd-Funding-Finance-a-Dre?wpisrc=trl_more_pt2) about this topic, and he explained how difficult it can be to raise money even if you are a celebrity. My recommendation to you is that before you try again, make sure that your presentation is tight, that you have identified and can reach the audience that will be interested in your project and that you are ready to push go when the money comes in.