Crowdfunding Basics: How Does it Work?

Crowdfunding has emerged as a game-changer for individuals and businesses seeking financial support for their projects, ideas, and ventures. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur with a groundbreaking concept or a creative artist with a passion project, crowdfunding provides a unique avenue to secure funds and engage with a community of backers.

But the big question is, how does crowdfunding work? Let’s learn together by reading this in-depth blog post!

What is crowdfunding?

At its core, crowdfunding is a fundraising method that leverages the power of the internet and social media to bring together a large number of individuals, often referred to as “backers” or “contributors,” to financially support a project or venture.

It eliminates the traditional barriers that many entrepreneurs and creators face when seeking funding from banks, investors, or other financial institutions. Instead, crowdfunding allows them to present their ideas directly to the public, inspiring people to invest small to substantial amounts of money in exchange for various rewards, products, or equity stakes, depending on the crowdfunding model.

A good example of crowdfunding is the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset campaign on Kickstarter. Back in 2012, Oculus launched a campaign to raise $250,000 to develop their VR headset. The campaign garnered massive attention and support, eventually raising over $2.4 million from around 10,000 backers.

Oculus’ success demonstrated how a groundbreaking and innovative concept could capture the public’s imagination. The campaign tapped into the growing interest in virtual reality technology and the potential for immersive gaming experiences.

The founders also effectively communicated their vision and showcased early prototypes, building excitement and trust within the community. The campaign’s success caught the attention of major players in the tech industry, ultimately leading to Oculus being acquired by Facebook (now Meta) for $2 billion.

What are the different types of crowdfunding?

There are multiple ways to approach crowdfunding and each method offers unique benefits to both backers and creators. Let’s discuss each type below:

Debt-based crowdfunding

Debt-based crowdfunding, also known as peer-to-peer lending, involves individuals lending money to borrowers who agree to repay the loan with interest over time. This model benefits both parties: lenders receive a return on their investment, while borrowers gain access to necessary funds. Prosper and LendingClub are notable platforms that facilitate this lending arrangement.

Equity crowdfunding

Equity crowdfunding is a game-changer for startups and small businesses. Instead of offering rewards, backers receive a stake in the company, allowing them to potentially benefit from its success. This model democratizes investment opportunities, enabling a wider range of people to become shareholders in promising ventures. Platforms like SeedInvest and StartEngine facilitate equity crowdfunding campaigns while complying with legal regulations.

Reward-based crowdfunding

In this model, project creators offer enticing rewards to backers based on their contribution level. These rewards can range from exclusive merchandise to early product access or personalized experiences. Popular reward-based crowdfunding platforms include Kickstarter and Indiegogo, where creators outline their project goals, set funding targets, and detail the rewards associated with different contribution tiers.

Donation-based crowdfunding

For charitable causes, nonprofit projects, and personal emergencies, donation-based crowdfunding provides a compassionate platform. Individuals can contribute funds without expecting any financial return, driven purely by empathy and the desire to make a positive impact. GoFundMe and Crowdfunder are popular platforms that connect those in need with compassionate donors.

Laws surrounding crowdfunding in the U.S.

In the U.S., crowdfunding is primarily regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012. The JOBS Act introduced several provisions that allow small businesses to raise capital from the general public, which was previously restricted.

Under Title III of the JOBS Act, the SEC established Regulation Crowdfunding (Reg CF). This allows eligible companies to raise up to $5 million in 12 months from both accredited and non-accredited investors. Companies must use an SEC-registered crowdfunding portal to conduct their offerings. These portals are responsible for ensuring compliance with regulations and providing investors with educational materials.

Companies raising funds under Reg CF are required to provide detailed disclosures about their business, including financial statements, a description of the business, and risks associated with the investment. Depending on the amount raised, these financial statements may need to be reviewed or audited by an independent accountant.

For individual investors, there are limits on the amount they can invest in crowdfunding offerings in 12 months. These limits are based on the investor’s annual income and net worth. For example, if both an investor’s annual income and net worth are less than $107,000, then the investor’s investment limit is greater than $2,200 or 5% of the lesser of their annual income or net worth.

Companies that successfully raise funds under Reg CF have ongoing reporting obligations. They are required to file an annual report with the SEC and provide it to investors, updating them on the financial health and operations of the company.

While crowdfunding offers a promising avenue for businesses to raise capital, it comes with a set of regulations that are designed to protect investors and maintain the integrity of the financial markets.

Is crowdfunding the right venture for you?

Determining whether crowdfunding is the right approach for you involves thoughtful consideration of various factors, including your project’s nature, your goals, your audience, and your willingness to invest time and effort into the crowdfunding campaign.

1. Ask yourself, “What kind of project do I want to start?”

First, assess the nature of your project. Crowdfunding is particularly suitable for creative, innovative, or socially impactful ventures. It’s ideal for projects that can capture people’s attention and generate excitement. Whether you’re launching a new product, producing a film, or initiating a charitable cause, crowdfunding can provide a platform for engaging potential backers.

2. Outline your goals

The next step is to define your goals. Clearly outline what you aim to achieve through crowdfunding. Is it solely about raising funds, or do you also want to gauge interest, build a community, or receive feedback? Setting specific, measurable goals will help you evaluate the success of your campaign and guide your efforts throughout the process.

Crowdfunding campaigns thrive when they resonate with a specific demographic. Analyze whether your project aligns with a particular niche or community. If your project has a passionate and engaged target audience, it’s more likely to attract backers who are invested in seeing your idea come to life.

3. Measure your commitment levels

 Crowdfunding demands dedicated effort. From planning and creating compelling content to engaging with backers and promoting your campaign, it requires a significant time investment. Are you willing to put in the time and energy required to make your campaign successful? Successful crowdfunding is often a combination of passion, persistence, and hard work.

There are various crowdfunding platforms available, each with its own strengths and limitations. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe, and others cater to different types of projects and audiences. Explore these platforms and choose the one that aligns best with your project and goals.

4. Take financial status into consideration

While crowdfunding can provide a source of funds, it’s essential to have a realistic estimate of how much money you need for your project. Determine your funding goal by factoring in production costs, marketing expenses, platform fees, and unforeseen contingencies. A well-calculated budget ensures you’re not underfunded or setting an unrealistic target.

Research similar campaigns that have succeeded or failed in your chosen niche. Analyze what made those campaigns stand out or falter. This can provide valuable insights into crafting a campaign strategy that distinguishes your project and addresses potential pitfalls.

5. Prepare a sound marketing plan

Lastly, reflect on your marketing and promotion strategy. Even the most promising projects can go unnoticed without effective promotion. Consider how you’ll leverage social media, email marketing, press releases, and personal networks to spread the word about your campaign. A well-thought-out marketing plan enhances your campaign’s visibility and chances of success.

In summary

Crowdfunding has revolutionized the way individuals and businesses raise funds and engage with their audiences. With the right strategy, platform, and approach, crowdfunding can turn dreams into reality. So, take the leap, embrace the power of the crowd, and watch your ideas come to life.

Managing the financial health of your company is crucial to success. If you need any help with expert bookkeeping services, our team is ready to assist you. Feel free to fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch with you shortly.  

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