How can cultural organizations use crowdfunding? (Part III)
In early October, participants in the fifth generation of the “Creative Mentorship” program had the opportunity to follow the workshop about various ways to seek and secure funding for cultural projects. Tatjana Nikolić, an associate at the UNESCO Department of the University of Arts in Belgrade and member of the Advisory Board of the “Creative Mentorship” program, Nathan Koeshall, founder and director of Catalyst Balkans and mentor in the current generation, Tijana Jugović, representative of the main partner of the program, the Embassy of the United States of America in Serbia and Dragana Jevtić, founder and director of “Creative Mentorship” shared their knowledge and experience in this domain.
As the topic of finding funds for cultural projects can be interesting to everyone who deals with them, we will share with you information, tips, and approaches that could be useful for your work in three texts. In this, third text, we share with you the advice of Nathan Koeshal, who told us about his experience in conducting fundraising campaigns.
Catalyst Balkans is a philanthropic organization that has launched the Donacije.rs platform, where it conducts campaigns for organizations that need financial support to implement projects aimed at improving life in the community. As Nathan says, this type of fundraising is still new in Serbia, and it takes more time for the organizations themselves to see all the advantages, but also the demands they bring with them.
In addition to the Catalyst platform, there are some others you can explore (IndieGoGo, for example), but also some other forms of engagement that individuals and organizations can turn to, such as donation dinners, silent auctions, or setting up donation boxes in stores and bars.
We should always keep in mind that each fundraising campaign requires additional activities, which can directly affect the success of the campaign. They require that we invest additional time in them, but they are also a unique opportunity to make close contact with people who can help us achieve our goal. If we don’t take that extra step in connecting with the community we want to contribute to through the project, we are less likely to get their support and implement our idea in the end.
We should also think about the channels we use during the campaign and make the most of them to inform people about our project and goal, as well as to invite the audience to donate. It is very important to provide all the information crucial for donors and thus eliminate the factors that minimize our chances of achieving the desired goal. It is very important to know that we should not give up on an inquiry, but it is crucial to know how to formulate it and invite people to support us.
Another thing we need to take into account when it comes to crowdfunding is transparency. We must write reports regularly and share them with our audience in different formats. On the Donacije.rs platform, you can see the campaigns that have been successfully conducted so far, who were the donors, how much they supported the initiatives and how the money was spent. By providing insight into the activities, progress, and result of the campaign, we build the credibility of our organization, strengthen people’s trust and increase our chances of people supporting us some other time.
Campaign planning, reflection, community mapping, and many other steps are necessary for a successful campaign. Content creation can be a good basis for donor motivation. Patreon is an example of a platform where different creators give their products (songs, comics, illustrations, etc.) to their “patrons” or donors, in exchange for a certain amount. We also need to know that every campaign has a greater potential to succeed if we develop it before we officially invite a wider audience to support us. In other words, we should seek the first support from people close to us and in that way provide initial donations that can motivate others to support us as well. Finally, there are marketing activities within the campaign, which are related to the marketing activities that the company conducts. They can also be contained from actions, for example, donations from each coffee drank in a certain café, the percentage of gigs and similar activities grateful for campaigns in smaller communities wherein that way we additionally connect with people.
After all the information shared by Tanja, Tijana, Dragana, and Nathan, we can summarize the following: before we make big steps in the form of project proposals, we should get to know ourselves and our organization to better understand our potential and real possibilities. The funds exist, we just need to explore all possibilities to grasp them and realize our projects. Once we decide to take that step, we need to listen carefully to the needs of our organizations and donors, take care of regulations and frameworks, but also negotiate and move the boundaries of potential partners. If we can take one of the messages that Nathan conveyed to us as motivation, that would be:“We should never be embarrassed to ask for financial support for something we do. The worst that can happen is to get a “no” in return. It is then up to us to develop and work to turn that “no” into a “yes”.