Crowd-funding campaigns popular way to raise cash

From community centers to film festivals, groups going online to fundraise

So Zack Danger Brown started one to fund some experiments in the kitchen with potato salad. Others have raised money, including the Peterborough Community Theatre, to switch over to digital projection equipment in their historic theaters. And the method is arguably reaching more people, with very little effort on the part of fundraisers, and possibly raising more money in shorter periods of time than traditional development techniques ever have.

Crowd-funding campaigns are the progressive, new way to raise money, and fast. And the Dublin Community Center and the Monadnock International Film Festival, both of them nonprofits, have recently launched campaigns on Indiegogo.

MONIFF Executive Director Laina Baraket has said that online fundraising sites offer a way to reach the people and diversify the sources of donations.

“Achieving a balance of diversification between individual and corporate sponsorship is the key to long-term success,” Barakat is quoted as saying in a recent statement about the campaign. “Crowd-funding campaigns provide an exciting platform for community integration.”

Keene-based MONIFF, going into its third year, is trying to raise the first $15,000 of its $160,000 cash budget. The campaign will run for 30 days, from July 14 to Aug. 13, and brought in over $2,000 in the first week.

Dublin Community Center Board of Directors Secretary David Wolpe said the center is trying to raise $65,000 on its “The Dub Hub” crowd-funding page, which expires in mid-August.

“We wanted to find a creative way to get the word out,” he said in an interview Thursday. “We’re currently [at] over $1,000.”

Wolpe said they chose Indiegogo over Kickstarter for the flexibility the former offers, but the idea is the same: They offer the online template for launching a fundraising site, they collect the money and take a percentage.

The big difference between the two sites is that if you don’t make your goal, Kickstarter will return all of the donations, whereas Indiegogo offers some different options, Wolpe noted. “If you make your goal, it’s 4 percent, if you don’t make your goals, it’s 9 percent,” he said about Indiegogo’s commission.

There’s the option of uploading a film from YouTube, he noted. There are also ways to share your site easily to other platforms, including Facebook. “All this stuff is built [in] for you,” Wolpe explained.

Wolpe has created a three-minute film for the Dub Hub site, which features local actor Tim Clark in a cameo appearance, among others.

There’s a way to offer perks to people who donate, too. The Dublin Community Center is offering badges and Dublin post cards.

In short, creating your own campaign site is easy, Wolpe said, and for donors, the user interface is friendly. “It’s like having your own personal distribution system and payment mechanism,” he said, noting that by distribution he means getting the words out. “Anyone who knows about [your site] with the Internet can get to this.”

There are no upfront fees, either.

“It’s an easy way for people to give and, on the creator side, it’s an easy way to get funded for your project.” And already having a following for your cause makes it even easier, he said. “They give and the money shows up in your account. It’s handy.”

The Community Center actually needs more than $65,000 — their target fundraising goal — to do everything on its wish list, but Wolpe said it seemed like a good middle number to strive for.

They’re raising money to build an addition to their Main Street building, which they recently had renovated, so they can hold more than one event at a time. But they also are trying to establish an operating budget, from which they can pay someone to open, close, and oversee the place, which is now being done by volunteers.

“Free art classes have started. Zumba classes are starting in August. Yoga classes have already started,” Wolpe said. “People are coming up with all kinds of uses for [the center].”

With the help of donors, the center will continue its mission of bringing people together in a once dilapidated building in the center of town.

Crowd-funding sites almost sound too easy, but the premise that anyone with a good idea or creative approach can win over people who, in a way, are voting with their wallets is the capitalist system the West was built on.

And as Zack Danger Brown of Columbus, Ohio, found, making potato salad is a popular pastime: He’s made nearly $52,000 in less than a month, with his page set to expire Aug. 2, after posting a goal of just $10.

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