Many people today have questions about crowdfunding, and whether it might be helpful to them. In this article, we’ll explore the history of crowdfunding, how it works, the different kinds of solutions it can provide, and how Doing My Part uses crowdfunding to further our goals of helping vulnerable children in the Charlotte, NC area.
What Is Crowdfunding?
Although we associate crowdfunding with clicking a “Donate” button on a screen, the concept has been around in other forms for centuries. Before the explosion of the internet, for example, authors crowdfunded books by promising to publish a book if they got enough interested people to commit to reading it.
The leap to online platforms began in the late 1990’s, when fans of the band Marillion raised $60,000 to fund a US tour. The band was so impressed that they later employed a similar model to produce more albums. By 2015, platforms like GoFundMe, Indiegogo, Patreon, and Kickstarter were funding a wide range of projects—from arts and entertainment to business startups to paying for medical expenses. Although platforms may vary in rules and options, they all follow the same general idea: If you can’t get one or two investors to contribute a large amount of money, you can get a lot of investors to contribute small amounts. This microlending adds up to the capital you need to fund a project.
How Does Crowdfunding Create a Positive Impact on Communities?
Many individuals and groups who wish to start a business, meet their material needs, afford housing, or fund a community improvement project run into funding difficulties. Government grants are often limited and not everyone can get one. The ability to qualify for a bank loan can be affected by many factors—including things you can’t control, like the current state of the economy or the industries involved.
While starting a business or funding a concert tour is great, in today’s world, crowdfunding has evolved to fill many other needs. Frequently people use it to pay for basic necessities, like food, rent, or medical care. Due to the pandemic and other economic factors, more people than ever are struggling to meet these needs, and crowdfunding can be a lifeline in such situations.
In fact, 2020 brought such a high increase of people needing help with basic necessities that GoFundMe added a new category just for food, rent, and bills in October. At the time, the crowdfunding site noted that this category of fundraisers had already raised more than $100 million—an increase of 150 percent from 2019. The monthly bills category is now one of the site’s biggest and has accounted for around 13 percent of GoFundMe’s revenue since it was opened in October.
At the same time, people who can afford to donate now wonder what more they can do to help. Although donating to charity is a great way to give back, many donors prefer giving to specific crowdfunding campaigns because they can learn about the individual’s situation and see how their donation could make a real difference. This can be a very affirming experience for someone who’s used to writing a check and hoping the money does some good.
For this reason, Doing My Part always shares the story of each family they help by social media posts and SMS. This allows donors to see the impact of their gift on a child or family with a previously unmet need. For example, we recently shared the story of a woman named Brianna and her two children, who had been living in a hotel for the last several years. Brianna was struggling to fund the deposit for an apartment, so DMP’s crowdfunding efforts helped raise the remaining funds. She and her kids were finally able to leave homelessness behind when they moved into their new apartment.
The Doing My Part Model
At Doing My Part (DMP), we’ve made it our mission to combine all the benefits of crowdfunding to help children in the Charlotte, NC area. First, we work with local nonprofits to identify children with specific, urgent needs. These may be related to housing, safety, food insecurity, a need for clothing or supplies, etc. Then, we encourage supporters to help with micro-donations—these can be as small as subscribing to donate for just $9/month. This amount may not sound like much, but using the crowdfunding model, a lot of people contributing a small amount each month can create a big change for a child in need. 90 percent of our donations go directly to address these identified needs.
What’s Different About the DMP Model?
Has this happened to you? The news is on, and you hear yet another story about how many local children are food-insecure, or how many parents struggle to buy school supplies or keep the lights on. Maybe you’re familiar with statistics showing that in Mecklenburg County alone, just under 20 percent of kids are vulnerable to food insecurity. Or maybe you’re asked to help kids in need by “rounding up” at the checkout counter. A lot of people feel frustrated in these situations, because no child should go hungry or go without the things they need to learn and grow. But many people wonder if the donations they make do any real good. At DMP, we’re changing the crowdfunding model in key ways, so donors know exactly where their donations are going and how they’re helping their community.
At DMP, our donors get to experience these stories in real-time through both social media and SMS, so they can see how we’ve helped local kids who need assistance. This makes it easy to understand how your micro-donation, combined with those of other supporters, actually improves life for a vulnerable child in our area. As a result, our supporters are enthusiastic about sharing our mission with friends and family, and on social media. When you sign up to join DMP, you’ll get SMS alerts about a child we recently helped, and you’ll get to see exactly how your donations are helping kids who need it most.
It’s common for people to feel they aren’t really helping when they make a small donation, and they don’t know where the money goes. Some may think the amount they contribute isn’t enough to make a difference. In some cases, this may even discourage them from contributing at all. That’s why our crowdfunding model is so important—it keeps our results in front of supporters and potential donors, so they can see exactly how each micro-donation helps someone in our local community.
No Transaction Fees for Donors
Another difference is that, while GoFundMe can help people raise funds for their needs, the sheer number of fundraisers on their site can be overwhelming. Not everyone can afford to contribute to every campaign. Most people don’t even have the time to look at all of them. Some can get overlooked. Additionally, did you know that GoFundMe is a for profit company? They make money by charging a transaction fee for donors. That means some of the money you give only goes to help a for-profit company that’s already doing well financially.
DMP addresses all these issues by finding children or families with the greatest need in the Charlotte, NC area and helping them directly. Donors don’t have to spend their time deciding what fundraiser to give to, and all the money they donate goes to help a local family in need. Unlike GoFundMe, DMP does not charge donors a transaction fee, so all of your money is going directly toward people who need help. If you’d like to support DMP’s mission, check out our shop where you can buy apparel and other items. 90% of proceeds from items purchased in our shop will help DMP continue its mission.
How Does DMP Help Local Children?
The needs we identify can vary from making sure a child has nutritious food to eat, to helping with other expenses. These can be anything from replacing clothes and shoes a child has outgrown, to helping with prescriptions or medical care not covered by insurance, to providing hygiene products or transportation, to tutoring or other help with education. For example, last year our donors helped provide a new motorized chair for a boy named Conner, whose existing chair was unstable and no longer a good solution for him.
DMP also doesn’t limit aid to any particular need. We can help with bills for a family of five whose parent recently lost her job, or by providing a desk and supplies for a child to use during virtual schooling. In March, we helped a young man named Joe whose glasses were broken by bullies to get a new pair of glasses. Take a look at the other needs we’ve helped families fulfill on our blog.
How Can I Help?
At DMP, we’re working to revolutionize crowdfunding on the local level for families in need in Charlotte, NC. If you want to help, you can subscribe to give as little as $9/month. We use the best aspects of crowdfunding to quickly and directly help vulnerable kids and families in our local area. Using social media and SMS, we keep donors up to date on how their donations assist these families. We also work to identify those with the most need, to save time and effort for donors who aren’t sure how best to help. With donation subscriptions starting at just $9/month, we also offer more people the opportunity to give and provide real assistance to local children. Sign up to join DMP today for as little as $9 per month, and shop the DMP store to further support our mission.