Crowdfunding and Fire Service

“Crowdfunding” is the concept of a person or organization using the internet to fund a project by connecting to a large number of potential donors – people who the fundraiser would never otherwise be able to reach. Even though the donors may only give a small amount, enough money could be raised if enough people participate. Crowdfunding is a means to raise money from the public – whether friends, family, community members, people looking to invest in something, or even complete strangers who want to help out a good cause.

Early on, crowdfunding sites were meant to help launch specific products or projects, with specific money goals and time deadlines. This is still the case with sites like Kickstarter (“…helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality” – www.kickstarter.com) and Indiegogo (“Art, architecture, technology, films, DIY—if it’s a creative, entrepreneurial project it’s probably a great fit for Indiegogo” – www.indiegogo.com). However, a slew of different crowdfunding sites have popped up, with different funding models, target causes and target audiences. One thing they all have in common, though, is fees. Quoting a recent post by Jane Folger, “The High Cost of Crowdfunding,” in Investopedia.com: “In most cases, you’ll pay a platform fee (what you pay the platform for hosting your campaign), plus a processing fee for accepting payments. A common fee structure is 5% for the platform and 3 to 5% for payment processing. For every $100 you raise, you’ll have to give up between $8 and $10 in fees…”

As crowdfunding morphed from project or products to personal fundraising, GoFundMe (www.gofundme.com) has become by far the most popular site. Again, quoting Folger: “Started in 2010, GoFundMe has become the world’s top fundraising site for personal causes and life events. Users raise $4 million each day, adding up to $2 billion in the last year. Most people use GoFundMe to raise money for themselves, a friend or a loved one for things like medical expenses, education costs, volunteer programs, youth sports, pet needs and memorials.”

Many smaller and generally volunteer fire departments across the country have taken to GoFundMe in the hopes of raising money for a variety of causes. Typing different fire service-related key words into the GoFundMe site search box generates a number of results (“campaigns”).

Some examples include the following – and while all campaigns listed in the search are obviously public, we’re omitting names of the departments and listing just the cause and the amounts raised so far: • Looking for a new facility – $21,115 in six months

• Fix damaged equipment – $500 in two months
• Purchase a used Forestry Service truck – $1,000 in one month
• New roof – $35 in three months
• Fire station upgrades – $1,665 in 28 months
• Used pumper truck – $3,108 in four months
• A Federal Q Siren – $1,300 in five months

As you can see, it can be tough going. There’s a lot of competition out there for the donor dollar. So, what is the secret to a successful campaign? According to GoFundMe: “If you’re raising money for something that you strongly believe in, chances are that the people in your life will be eager to support you. GoFundMe gives you the easy-to-use features to share your story with your family, friends, loved ones and community. Every Campaign Organizer should connect their Facebook account, use a high-quality campaign photo or video and clearly explain why they’re raising money. Sharing your campaign on Facebook is the single most important thing you can do.” We’d like to hear from you – has your department used any type of crowdfunding? What happened? Send your comments to editor@maltesecrossmagazine.com.

As you can see, it can be tough going. There’s a lot of competition out there for the donor dollar. So, what is the secret to a successful campaign? According to GoFundMe: “If you’re raising money for something that you strongly believe in, chances are that the people in your life will be eager to support you. GoFundMe gives you the easy-to-use features to share your story with your family, friends, loved ones and community. Every Campaign Organizer should connect their Facebook account, use a high-quality campaign photo or video and clearly explain why they’re raising money. Sharing your campaign on Facebook is the single most important thing you can do.”

We’d like to hear from you – has your department used any type of crowdfunding? What happened? Send your comments to editor@maltesecrossmagazine.com.

One thought on “Crowdfunding and Fire Service

  • August 3, 2018 at 7:52 am
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