Nowadays, we always can hear some successful stories about online crowdfunding. Therefore, many people thought crowdfunding and social media made fundraiser to raise money more easily, but few of people tried it by themselves in real life. Two weeks before, I received a challenge assignment from my Social Entrepreneurship class. Students need to form groups of three and each group has one week to raise as much money as possible and bring the cash earned to the next class. There were no rules to restrict the challenge and teams can either choose to fundraise for a particular charitable organization or to just raise money for a general social cause.
I realized this is the perfect time for me to test the efficiency of social media for fundraising. First, my group decided to choose the cause related to nutrition and healthy eating. So we picked the Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative, which is a program of University of Pennsylvania’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships to create healthy communities in West Philadelphia. Then, we created a crowdfunding page to raise money for our cause. We also planned to spread the page through our personal social media and send it individually to our friends and family members.
We posted the webpage on Sunday evening, Superbowl Sunday, when everyone was on social media commenting on the football game. Social Media is an interesting microcosm. While everyone may be watching and liking posts, not everyone is engaging in commentary or fully understanding the content in the post. At the end, really few of money were from Social Media and almost all of our donations were from people who we sent the individual emails or texts to. More interestingly, just six hours earlier, one of my group members had posted a memorial post for her mother who had passed away 9 years ago. Over 165 friends liked the post and provided comments. She thought that perhaps if she had combined this meaningful post with the fundraising campaign, to add a personal touch to raising money, it would have garnered more attention. However, she insisted on keeping the posts separate, to see if those same people who had posted for her mother would also see the great work of AUNI and donate. Unfortunately, only three people liked the post and two people shared it. She received only one donation from a Facebook friend who viewed the post and went to the crowdfunding website. This only proves that social media, which can reach so many people very quickly, does not necessarily connect people to important causes. Having a personal touch is important and had we combined our Facebook posts with the crowdfunding page to personal stories on why we were fundraising, it is possible that we could have garnered more interest. All in all, I think crowdfunding on social media is not that easy.