The real crowdfunding problem

I work with grants in my daily work: giving and getting them, the planning and execution.  I was on the board of a now-defunct Unitarian Universalist mission organization. I know a few things about modern administration and organization and the history of our polity, some learned the hard way. Like many others, I’ve also seen waves of Unitarian Universalist ideas approach, crest and break — but leave no mark — for a quarter century.

Three days ago, I wrote about several problems and questions around the emerging UUFund crowdfunding program. Few or none of these are really that hard to overcome, but I said there was one problem above all of these.

It will need a stream of good, fundable projects.

  • Projects the can be planned, organized, fulfilled and reported upon.
  • Projects that are neither too large nor too small, so they may attract attention but also enough funding to start.
  • Projects that inspire and do not duplicate (closely, anyway) another project. (Keeping attention, again.)
  • Projects that are ambitious, but can be completed.
  • Projects that speak to a real need, but a need that’s not been addressed.

The balancing-act list continues, and on top of it: a project that will want to bother with any particular fund-raising process. The act of making a plan, drawing up a budget and  justifying one’s goals is wore than some — many? — people will want to do. “Leave me my hobbyist project,” they’ll say. “I’ll fund it myself, or find a few friends who’ll be interested.”

And I’ve not gotten to the back-biting: “That’s not really Unitarian Universalist…” “How is that multicultural?” “I could have done that for less…”  Heaven help those who come forward.

In sum:  Finding high-quality projects to fund that will excite the crowds and fulfill the mission will be the hardest problem for this crowdfunding program.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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