Online fun raising womanAn online fund raising pro is the one who knows the intricacies of those incredible online fund raising services.  These services would have you believe that everyone who posts on their site ends up raising lots of money.  That is so Not True.

The truth is that a tiny fraction of those who post actually raise funding, and very few raise as much as they originally intended.

The truth is that there are a whole lot of scammers who know this.  These scammers try every way imaginable to separate the money from the entrepreneur, with promises and schemes that border on the light fantastic.

That’s where you step in.

Those who need funding need your expertise, and your integrity.  There are just some guidelines that companies looking for financing need from you.  My friend Jan just went through this process, and here are some guidelines she gave me:

IDENTIFYING SCAMS

There are a number of different sites online that provide posting services.  Some claim to be a “matching” service that matches companies needing financing with individuals looking for their type of business.  Scratch those off your list — they are a scam.

KNOW THE ROPES

Some services provide guidelines and show successful campaigns.  Learn those very well.  Know the parameters of each, and how a candidate might actually get funded on each platform.  Some platforms require that the candidate reach a certain level of funding before any money is released; some do not.  Some require money up front from a candidate; some do not.  Some have specific time frames; some do not.  Understand these variables.

My friend Carolyn, a talented playwright, was looking for funding to mount a play off-off Broadway.  She had a strong fan base and opted to go for $10,000.  She also opted for a service that would allow her to accept any amount that was contributed, even if it was $100.  Carolyn knew she could put the money to good use, no matter what the amount.

CREATIVE GIFTS

Help the candidate develop a list of creative thank you gifts for different levels of investment.

One butcher shop I know gave a gift of ten percent off all purchases the first year.  It was a great gift.  It encouraged donations AND it paid back the investors over time.  It was a real win-win.

KNOW WHAT TO ASK FOR

Don’t ask for more than you truly need, and be able to justify that need.  You won’t need a full business plan, but you will need a solid outline of how the investment monies will be used.

My buddy the cellist went for $100,000 so she could produce a top level CD with professional backup players.  Sadly, she didn’t come anywhere near raising that amount, so she re-crafted her whole proposal and asked only for $10,000.  She got that.

WHAT IT REALLY TAKES TO GET FUNDING

Help the candidate understand that she won’t get funding on her own, that a great deal of her success relates to having a large pool of colleagues who will promote her to their friends.  This is a very big undertaking, requiring support from lots of friends.  Many posting sites claim that investors come to their site, looking for projects like hers.  for the most part, this just isn’t true.  The best source of investors are people you already know, or those who got a recommendation from a mutual friend.

One woman sent an email via a list that I belong to, appealing to all “Team Jenny members” to donate to her project.  Not only did I not know Jenny, and I certainly wasn’t one of her “team members”, but I hadn’t a clue what she was going to do with that money.  ouch.

LOOK PROFESSIONAL

Know how to develop a professional presence on each platform.  Each platform is different.

STICK TO ONE PLATFORM

Don’t ever try to post on more than one platform at a time.  Remember, you will be contacting your friends and colleagues for assistance, and they won’t want to be bombarded with support requests.

The cellist I mentioned above sent out a whole net set of emails for her second proposal, which irked me.  But I did contribute the second time around — it was just a whole lot more realistic.

There are no doubt other variables that the online fund raising pro will need to learn about each site too.

Finding financing is never easy.  Your services will be in top demand once your skillset is known.