Crowdfunding PD: Observations from Weekend 1

As you can see below, I decided to try to fund a summer PD program through a crowdfunding mechanism.  The project has been live for ~48 hours now, and at current, it has raised a bit south of 20% of the total that I hope to raise from slightly north of 10 amazing donors.  Not too shabby for a weekend.  The project continues until the end of June, so hopefully I'll get a whole lot closer to my goal before all is said and done. Crowdfunding is a strange enterprise and it is a strange time in the history of internet-enabled patronage to be trying to crowdfund.  Originally, crowdfunding was pretty much limited to things and works of art, but it has recently expanded to include things like science research, and people.  Mine was the first professional development crowdfunding initiative that I was aware of when I thought of it, but I've since seen that I am not the first teacher to have this idea.  It's a singular experience, and one that I think I have gotten better at even over the course of this weekend.  So, here are a few observations for the sake of posterity, and in case anyone who has a similar mind ever finds this article when looking for assistance.

  1. Have a good message.  If you aren't making a tangible product, you're going to need a good narrative as to why people should spend their money on you.  For me, it's a long history of creating materials for my students that are made available to the entire world.  You're going to need something similarly important that prospective funders can feel good about.
  2. Sell, sell, sell yourself.  If you are going to crowdfund, you'll need to be unashamed in tapping your social network and broadcasting your initiative.  I'm tweeting like a bastard, sending facebook updates, google-plussing, emailing, and all the rest of it with a regularity that I would think would be obnoxious if I didn't firmly believe that what I'm doing will help my students, school, and colleagues in countless ways.  Don't be afraid to really push the envelope.  If it's a good idea, you shouldn't be ashamed about letting people know about it.
  3. Acknowledge all kindness.  Obviously, you are going to kneel down and thank all benefactors in an ostentatious and public manner (for me, it's a lot of "thank you" tweets and facebookings).  But you should also be consciously following any  new followers on twitter, retweeting goodness, and generally demonstrating that you are deeply thankful of anyone who even gives you a second look, much less a few bucks.
  4. Stay on top of things.  As donations come in, and all the rest of it, make sure you are keeping accounts.  Are you getting your list of mailing addresses ready for any perks that require it?  Are you making sure that your money managing is staying up to snuff?  That's your responsibility.  After all, people are trusting you with their money and good will.  You need to show them that you understand how important that kind of trust is.

So, there's a few lessons.  I imagine this blog will go back to its normal pattern for the next week or so, and then we'll check back in with the crowdfunding and see where we are.


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