How To Successfully Create Your Own Crowdfunding Campaign


Ganga Subramanian, Junior Editor in Chief/Writer

     Ten years ago, scrolling through GoFundMe would have been a significantly less mentally draining affair, as projects mostly consisted of fundraising for indie video games, aiding small business ventures and helping local musicians to record albums. Nowadays, GoFundMe has become the number one destination for those who have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances and are strapped for cash. Fundraisers are created by those seeking to pay off medical expenses, cover memorial fees and recover from natural disasters. Through crowdfunding, they hope to meet their goals. 

     Crowdfunding is essentially funding a project through small amounts of money from a large group of strangers. This way, the people running the project have a higher chance of reaching their goals. Crowdfunding gained newfound popularity with the advent of the Internet, as it made crowdfunding far easier and more accessible than it had ever been before. GoFundMe is nothing new; in fact, sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have existed before GoFundMe. Certainly, GoFundMe has the features to make an impression on their consumer base, as Christopher Kohrman (12) calls it “simple” and “easy”. However, it is the first one to hold such prominence in fundraising for medical expenses or related costs. One third of all projects and fundraisers on the site are related to medical costs, and for that reason GoFundMe has become the largest crowdfunding site on the Internet. 

      There are a two components to making a successful crowdfunding campaign:

  1. A (Convincing) Story 

     Storytelling has long been the premier art of mankind, able to inspire and incite the masses. It is crucial to attract attention to an important cause and there is no better way than telling a good story. There has to be a strong beginning, say a wholesome hard-working suburban family; then comes the middle, the conflict, an unforeseen circumstance that turns their whole world upside down; and finally, everyone likes happy endings. Family, friends and random strangers can ensure that this hardworking family’s happy ending happens through financial means. Even you can be a hero. 

      It may seem insensitive to minimize peoples’ suffering to a storyline, as if their lives are simply lines in movies, plays or books, but that is exactly what crowdfunding requires of them. Social storytelling has consequences. It makes these stories seem like individual problems, and refuses to acknowledge the society that caused them in the first place. Why couldn’t the hardworking suburban family pay off medical costs? Did one of the members have pre-existing conditions that made them ineligible for certain insurance? Why aren’t their pre-existing conditions covered? Why aren’t rising out of pocket costs being addressed? 

      In addition to this, it is easy to mimic these storylines and create fraudulent scams on the GoFundMe platform. GoFundMe claims that less than one tenth of one percent of its campaigns are fake, but there is evidence that states this may not be the case. For one, GoFundMe does not fact check the campaigns that are posted. There is no minimal evidence that a person needs to provide for them to start collecting money. For some especially convincing campaigns, strangers could fall victim to their own generosity. 

2. Attention

     A campaign cannot raise money without people sharing it. Time is of the essence, so it has to grab a stranger’s attention. A campaigner can first invite their friends and family to donate, then through the fear of missing out, strangers will feel the need to donate as well. A campaign can have a story that tugs at the heartstrings, but the story does nothing if no one is paying attention to it. There are so many fundraisers and projects on GoFundMe that it is easy for one campaign to get lost amongst the crowd. 

     For this reason, it is necessary to have a network of people and connections to make sure your campaign is seen. Having someone more well-known than yourself is a sure-fire way to make sure your project goals are met. However, most people seeking to make these campaigns do not typically have the connections they need. 

     But certain campaigns with a compelling enough story might be contacted by P.R. firms. These firms make promises of ‘selling’ the people behind the campaign and ensuring that more strangers see them and donate. Unfortunately, a cut of the money received from donations would go to the P.R. company, and not towards the noble cause that it was originally intended for. 

     It is recommended that for certain campaigns, like those that seek to fundraise for transplants, post their campaigns onto sites that are meant for that goal. Fundraisers have a better chance of meeting that goal, as it won’t get lost against the myriad of all the other fundraisers. It may not be as attractive as GoFundMe, but people can still achieve the same goal. 

      GoFundMe was never meant to be a form of health insurance for those who cannot get it in any other way. Their platform was never equipped to handle such time-sensitive issues that deal with people’s lives. Undoubtedly, GoFundMe has been helpful for several campaigns that end in success, however it has also left many slipping through the cracks. GoFundMe and crowdfunding are not at fault; it is the institutions that have caused people to resort to desperate measures. It is time that healthcare and insurance systems undergo a metamorphosis to support the people in the United States, rather than actively work against them.