The potential of crowdfunding is limitless – from funding a potato salad meal to raising money for a food truck in Myanmar – but only if you get your basics right.
Crowdfunding is still a relatively new concept in the realm of alternative finance, but has already been estimated to be a $34.4 billion market, according to a Massolution Crowdfunding Industry report.
So if you want to get in on the latest innovation in raising cash but were unsure where to start, here are the top tips from crowdfunding experts to help you maximize the potential of your crowdfunding campaign:
Successful crowdfunding campaigns are not as simple as posting a request and receiving pledges for $50,000 the very next day. A lot of preparation work is required before the launch of a campaign.
Claire Merquita, general manager of Australia-based Pozible, advises crowdfunders to create a staggered strategy to reach the target audience.
"People [should] build their networks before they launch, go to relevant events, build up a social following, and let everyone know that the campaign is coming," Merquita said to CNBC in an email interview.
Preparation ensures "you're getting off to a strong start, and not scrambling for ideas," she added.
The 'crowd' in crowdfunding should not be overlooked.
According to Tania Burstin, CEO of crowdfunding platform mycause, there are three layers to one's crowd.
The first and nearest crowd would be friends and family, after which it's the people in one's second-tier of network such as friends of friends. The third layer would be the general public "if you're really lucky and you get press."
"[However] to get the public to donate to another person is unusual," said Burstin.
The campaign page has to be compelling, with good pictures and a video. But most important to crowdfunding efforts is the story behind it.
"Crowdfunding supporters are looking for a great story, something to capture their imagination and ties in with what's relevant in their lives," said Merquita.
One of Pozible's most successful campaign came from Buchan, a town of just 400 residents in Victoria, Australia. The town's only pub and restaurant had been destroyed by a fire, and the town raised over $427,800 (A$600,000) to rebuild it.
Merquita attributes the success of the pub-rebuilding campaign to the background story.
"Even though the majority of people pledging weren't from that town, and may never even visit the pub, they loved the strong story and sense of community behind the project and wanted to be part of helping a tiny town rebuild [it's pub]," she said.
Crowdfunding platforms take the verification of information for a campaign seriously in order to protect their own credibility as well as the money pledged by crowdfunding supporters. This is especially true for charitable crowdfunding causes.
Merquita likens crowdfunding to getting a loan from a bank or investor, whereby credentials and leverage of the crowdfunder will definitely be checked.
Crowdfunders should select the right crowdfunding platform, depending on the nature of the campaign and the support that the platform offers. The appropriate platform will also help to attract the specific type of supporter most likely to be sympathetic to the cause.
For instance, Crowdrise platform states on its site that it focuses on crowdfunding for charitable donations, while StartSomeGood is a platform for "non-profits, social entrepreneurs and changemakers."
Quirky differentiates itself as a "invention platform" to bring products to life, and there are medical treatment crowdfunding platforms like Watsi which connects donors to patients with campaigns detailing their healthcare needs.
It is also important to choose the a platform with the model of crowdfunding that works best for the campaign's objectives.
There are two types of crowdfunding: Donation-based funding and investment funding. Donation-based funding is the exchange of a reward to supporters who donated to a campaign. The reward is related to the funding campaign's objectives, like a handmade item, T-shirt, performance ticket or free advertising. Investment funding sells business ownership stakes in the form of debt or equity.
However, Merquita cautions crowdfunders that the choice of platform is not as important as the work put in to prepare and promote the campaign because ultimately "all your early supporters are going to come from your own networks."