Seven Tips for Choosing the Best Crowd Funding Source for Your Adoption
By Cherri Walrod – Founder and Director of Resources4adoption © 2013
These days it seems like there are crowd funding sources everywhere for just about everything. But what is crowd funding? How can it be utilized for helping fund your adoption? And most importantly, how can you be certain you will receive the money raised by using this platform?
So what is crowd funding anyway? According to the Oxford dictionary it is "the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet." I love this concept, and the practice is gaining momentum within the adoption community.
How can it best be used to help you fund your adoption? The answer to this is pretty obvious: getting a lot of people to donate a little bit can equal a lot of money to go towards your adoption costs.
How can you be certain that you will receive the money you raised by using this platform?
Just like all things related to the internet, I see a huge potential for fraud here. Once the news of a big disaster hits the media, the alerts about scams follow shortly thereafter. Just about as quickly as legit organizations scramble to accept donations, scammers begin to have a hay day as well. It is so sad, but the unfortunate reality that we have to constantly watch our backs.
As always, one of my big concerns is that adoptive families can be particularly vulnerable to scams because of the heightened emotions involved in the adoption process. It is not uncommon for adoptive families to have a lapse in judgement and fall for something that they might not otherwise fall for. So please do a little homework before signing up with any crowd funding source.
Here are seven tips and suggestions to help you make sure you are dealing with a good crowd funding source.
- Fees - The crowd funding source should be very transparent about the fees they charge. It drives me crazy when this information is 'hidden' somewhere in the website. If you cannot find any fees listed anywhere, then that should be a big red flag.
Why do they charge fees anyway? The answer is simple: Everything costs money. Credit card processing companies charge to process payments. There are general operating costs to running any business or organization. It is just a fact of life.
Reasonable fees should be around 5 percent or less. I really like the 'Continue to Give' organization because they have some of the lowest fees I have seen.
- Personal Service and Contactabilty – Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I really like it when an organization offers personal service and there is an option to talk to real person!
- Testimonials and transparency – Keep in mind that testimonials can always be 'faked,' but even so, I like to see a fair number of testimonials on a website. In my opinion, any organization worth doing business with should be able to provide legit testimonials and be transparent about their operations.
- Better Business Bureau and News Media – You can always go to the Better Business Bureau site and search for a business or organization’s ratings. Also search engine query can usually bring up anything which has received bad reviews or has been exposed as a scam.
- Mobile apps – Having a mobile app does not signify any sort of legitimacy. However, since just about everyone seems to have a smart phone or device these days, I think having a mobile app would be great way to boost your donations. People are more likely to give if they can do it instantly.
- Flexibility and Accessibility to Funds - Some questions to be answered here would include: How much flexibility does the organization offer? When or how often can I access my funds... anytime, weekly, monthly, at the end of a goal period? Do I have to raise a certain amount before the funds are dispersed? How are the funds dispersed... to the adoption agency only, to the adoptive family, or a third party? Are the funds dispersed as a 'grant' or something else?
- Creativity and Additional Tools – I like organizations that offer great cutting edge technology, brilliant ideas and are very forward thinking. QR codes are gaining in popularity, so a crowd funding source which offers these would be a big plus. I will mention 'Continue to Give' again here because they have this awesome tool and it is incredibly worth it!