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How to Make Crowdfunding Technology Work in a Non-Tech Sector
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editorial

How to Make Crowdfunding Technology Work in a Non-Tech Sector

Editor's Note: The following comes to us from Sarah Timms, founder and CEO of the new crowdfunding platform LoveAnimals.org. Timms discusses crowdfunding in non-tech sectors, and how to make the new way of fundraising appealing to those who are not technologically savvy. For the latest news on LoveAnimals.org, make sure to follow the platform on Twitter @LoveAnimalsOrg.

Crowdfunding is the buzzword of 2013 – asking many people to give small donations or loans to collectively fund entire projects is a fast growing and successful way of raising money.

Crowdfunding platforms, mine included, are pitched as tech startups or companies. We use technology to harness the power of the crowd to create change. Tech industries and sectors that are comfortable using cutting edge technology (entrepreneurial start-ups, the gaming industry, the film industry) are able to work within the parameters of the new crowdfunding age. But how does one ensure that industries not traditionally used to embracing technology don’t get left behind?

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Multiple sectors, particularly in the nonprofit world, are facing this issue. For me, the spotlight falls on the animal welfare and wildlife conservation sector. Animal nonprofits (and environmental nonprofits combined), receive only 2 percent (1) of all giving in the U.S. Yet it is estimated that some 72.9 million (2) U.S. households own pets. We are a nation of animal lovers, and yet we choose to direct our giving elsewhere.

Crowdfunding presents animal nonprofits with the unique opportunity to advertise their cause to a broader audience and make giving easier than ever to tilt the needle toward a bigger portion of annual giving. The animal nonprofit sector operates in a vicious cycle – receiving so few donations ensures that groups continually struggle to operate, let alone focus on adopting new technologies. In the past, this sector has simply not had the resources or opportunities to embrace the technologies that could help them fulfill their missions.

For any organization struggling to raise money, it seems impossible to have the time to do anything other than focus on their immediate goals or missions. For these groups, the age-old belief that “if you build it they will come”, is no longer enough. How do you encourage the animal nonprofit sector (or any other struggling sector) to embrace the technology they don’t have the time to learn, but that can liberate them and open up a whole new world of donors to support their mission?

The answer, it turns out, is simple. You build a platform exclusively for that sector, which reflects the nuances of that specific community or “crowd”. Every part of the platform must be designed with the knowledge that the groups who will use it often don’t have the time or resources to immediately learn it. You not only have to build it, you have to make it affordable, understandable, and easy. You have to take the time to educate the groups about the concept itself and show them concrete results that will encourage them to embrace the new technology. By offering a platform created exclusively for a specific community, we can give that community the unique support it needs.

And the great news? The nonprofits are excited. They are embracing it. Even better? The animal-loving public is excited too.

Crowdfunding has already begun to disrupt the current philanthropic landscape. By making crowdfunding accessible to the animal nonprofit sector, we’ll ensure that these groups will be able to compete for and claim a larger share of total giving. Crowdfunding offers a way for every animal lover across the globe to easily give a few bucks to make a big difference. Because of this, I predict that this sector, which has traditionally operated with only 2 percent of all giving, will see an explosion in charitable giving.

Crowdfunding opens up a whole new world of donors that can enable any drastically underfunded sector not commonly associated with technology to move out from the shadows. Crowdfunding represents the future of philanthropy and our mission at LoveAnimals.org is to help animal organizations access that future.

(1) Giving USA Foundation 2010 Giving Report
(2) 2011/2012 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owners Survey

Sarah Timms is Founder and CEO of LoveAnimals.org, a new nonprofit crowdfunding platform for animal welfare and wildlife conservation charities working to improve the lives of animals around the globe.

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