Crowd funding: Will it break relationships?

A good friend of mine, with whom I talk a lot about my work in raising funds for education, art, culture in schools as well as therapeutic horseback riding, pointed out a news headline to me, to which I felt compelled to react: Crowd funding: Will it break relationships?

When I moved to the US and got bombarded with local fundraisers, the same question came to my mind. I live in a small community where participating in fundraisers is a community building exercise. There is simply no soccer for my son without donations raised by the soccer ‘crowd’. And more importantly, my kids school can not reach decent academic standards without donations raised by the school ‘crowd’. As a European, used to social system, my first questions was: Do I need to support all fundraisers? My second question: Will people like me less if I don’t support ‘their’ fundraisers?

After some sleepless nights, I think I found some answers.

The bad news is: yes, crowd funding can break relationships if your relationship has no mutual benefit on other levels and areas than the particular fundraiser

The good news is: crowd funding enhance relationships!

Obviously, it is the latter on which one needs to focus. At least that is what I do and that is what makes my life in America a rich one.

When you are thinking of getting involved into crowd funding, consider the following:

1. Crowd funding is not the latest marketing or advertising idea, it is an (American) lifestyle and cultural phenomenon,

2. Crowd funding should, therefore, not be driven by marketing strategies, but by authentic and visionary believes and aims that a certain group of people share,

3. No matter how you turn or twist it, fundraising is a non-profit exercise. Corporations will never make profit with marketing campaigns based on crowd funding initiatives in social networks. It may help reaching certain branding objectives, but in essence it is about Corporate Social Responsibility and individuals who care. It may indirectly help your business, but it should never overshadow your core business and product.

4. Family and friend relationships may break through crowd funding if they are not genuine or respected. Fundraising is liked to peoples personal interests and passion. Therefore, cynicism in the European culture may be the biggest enemy to successful crowd funding in Europe as a long term solution to the economic crisis. Bare in mind that those who make use of the services of a certain sport club, school or social activity are the ones who pay for it. With most crowd fundraisers the crowd who donates is the crowd that benefits from it. It is not unusual that the guests at an auction fundraiser are the same as those who organize it or are linked to the organization already.

5. A society that embraces crowd funding, is a society that accepts less government controlled spending.

So, Europe, think before your leap! Will it be higher taxes or more volunteers and individually controlled donations?