Ready to crowdfund using social media? Read this first

#wocintech chat crowd funding

Crowdfunding is no longer the buzzword it was in 2006. Social media has undeniably taken over and changed the way we interact and connect online. Gone are the days when discussion forums were the go to tool for getting numerous opinions. Crowdfunding by definition is, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

This is basically asking strangers around the world to help you get your project or campaign off the ground by financing it as a collective. Not only does this mean you’ll have the necessary capital to get going, but you will also have peace of mind. Through the indirect market research crowdfunding provides, you’ll know that a community of backers believe in your service or product.

The average person has 5 social media accounts, this means you have a few options on how to get your message across. Sometimes, all you need is a quick update on any platform and you will be flooded with an array of responses from your followers, catapulting your crowdfunding plans into the stratosphere. The next step is knowing how to harness the power of those platforms to bolster your crowd funding efforts. However, there are dos and don’ts when it comes to crowdfunding. You’ll need to ensure that people don’t view your suspiciously while ensuring long term success beyond the initial campaign.

Build a good foundation before the launch

30% of your donations will come from people you know. With this in mind, you need a solid network of people you have already been connecting and engaging with online before launching your campaign. This could take months so make sure you are ready to put in the work. There is no shortcut to a strong social following of engaged users.

Even more important is to ensure that you have the ‘right’ kind of followers. Through a great social media strategy, you can discover people who have shared interests. These are those will be more likely to support your cause.

Don’t rely on one platform

It’s very easily to rely on one platform. You may think your Facebook friends know you well and will support you but avoid putting all your eggs in one basket. Pick the right platform based on where your audience is, where you receive the most engagement and where you will be able to monitor things easily.

Rather than using your personal profile (which could get spam-like towards your friends and family), start a separate page for your campaign and get people to like and follow it for updates. You can also have a separate page for yourself. This way people can see the woman behind the campaign, you never know, it will probably be one of many projects you undertake.

Content is king

You need consistent and engaging content in order to stay current and pull in the crowds. Your copy should be punchy, to the point and shareable in order for the word to spread. Use rich imagery where you can, as well as other content types such as infographics, videos, podcasts etc. Share updates and milestones in order to keep the excitement going among your backers. Keeping content consistent and frequently updating will ensure you stay on top of people’s minds.

Don’t jump the gun

Asking for money right away makes you seem greedy and desperate. These two words can taint your campaign. How you frame your requests also matters, no one wants to feel like you are begging them to send money your way. Refrain from, “Please give 30 dollars to my campaign.” Instead go for subtle ways of encouraging support such as, “Could you be my next backer?”

Listing the amount of money you require in your update might seem daunting to someone who only has a little to give. Rather, post a link to your landing page where people can decide for themselves how much to give.

At the end of the day, even if you don’t reach your required amount through crowdfunding, you will still have a great community of people who believe in your ideas. Don’t ditch them. Instead, thank everyone for their efforts and keep doing what hooked them in the first place (consistency, remember?). You never know when your next bright idea might come and you need them again.

Have you run a successful crowd funding campaign? Let us know in the comments section below.

For young African women II: How to build wealth at every stage of your life

young african women

In Part One of How to Build Wealth at Every Stage, I discussed how to build wealth at the younger stages of life, from childhood to 19 years old. Here I discuss how to build on those stages.

Stage 3: The Young African Woman

This is known as the accumulation stage and is typically between ages 20-30/35. At this point, a person has just graduated or has started working and has some disposable income. Income is typically larger than expenses at this stage. Some may live with their parents while some may begin to consider getting their own accommodation.

This is also a stage when people begin to think about settling down etc. This is the best time to begin to develop a personal financial system. The earlier you start the more time you have for your money to grow and enjoy the benefits of compounding.

I love Albert Einsteins quote which says “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it…he who doesn’t pays it”. Basically, compounding interest simply means that the money you earn as interest is put back into your account or investment thereby allowing your money to grow faster. An individual at this stage should develop a savings and investment culture, learn and practice the principles of personal finance which is budgeting and also consider setting up an emergency fund. In terms of investing, this is a good time to invest in riskier assets and take advantage of long term growth opportunities.

 

You can also begin to buy valuable jewelry like gold, which appreciates over time and can be sold when cash strapped. It is very important to withstand peer pressure at this stage. Focus on your vision and goal.

Key things to consider at this stage include:

  1. Have a vision board
  2. Set financial goals
  3. Prepare monthly budgets
  4. Establish a savings culture
  5. Invest in the stock market
  6. Pay off any debts accumulated in University such as student loans, credit card debts etc
  7. Invest in yourself.
  8. Start a business

Stage 4: The African Woman

This is called the Consolidation stage and is typically between ages 30/35-55. At this stage your expenses are rising higher than your income. You may be married or starting a family. You may have moved out of your parents’ home and live on your own. Needs include education for kids, rent, mortgage, planning for retirement, higher education etc. Financial discipline is required at this stage.

It is important to be strict with budgeting and not forfeiting savings and investments. In terms of investment it is also important to begin to diversify your portfolio. This is also a good time to take some risks depending on the side of the spectrum you fall on.

Key things to consider at this stage include:

  1. Set up an education trust fund
  2. Buy land and or get a mortgage
  3. Health insurance
  4. Life insurance
  5. Build up your assets
  6. Plan for retirement
  7. Create multiple streams of income
  8. Invest in yourself

It is also important to note that you are never too old to dream. Mrs Betty Irabor started her magazine at this stage. Mo Abudu  started her tv station, Ebony Life TV in her late forties.

Stage 5: The Older African Woman

This is called the retirement stage and is age 55 and above. At this stage most individuals would be getting ready to retire or be retired. In most cases there is no steady income except from pension allowances. Needs include healthcare, retirement home, and vacation, maintaining a standard of living, estate planning and leaving a legacy.

A woman who was financially intelligent in her younger years will enjoy this stage. She may have set-up a business that is running on its own and therefore be enjoying the fruits of hard work during her youth.

This is also a time to ensure you are fulfilling purpose and at this stage you may even start a new business.

Please note that these age ranges are just a generic template and not cast in stone. Individuals may past through these stages at different ages.

Once you have determined the stage you are in your financial life cycle, it is important to set financial goals and to determine action steps required to achieve your goal. An important point is to ensure that you create a plan to achieve this goal and that your plans are as flexible as possible.

For example you could have a goal to set-up an emergency fund of 6 months’ worth of living expenses by 30/12/16.

Action Steps:

∙         Track spending

∙         Create a budget

∙         Pay-off all outstanding debts

∙         Reduce excess spending on eating-out and eat home-cooked food

∙         Reduce spending on aso-ebi

∙         Set up direct debit with bank

What are some of your goals for your financial future? What phase of life do you find yourself in? Could you begin to implement some of these key elements now?