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‘Crowd’ fundraising

Sandra Fynboh Andress is crowdfunding and using other sources to help her build a classroom, (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

BY Sarah smith

Crowdfunding is a relatively new social phenomenon, but already hundreds of websites have sprouted.

Sandra Fynboh Andress, a Nevis jeweler, would like to expand her business and add more room to work. Her tiny gallery is fine for sales, but she needs room to teach classes.

Clint Kako of Osage is trying to replace his home destroyed by fire earlier this year.

Both have turned to on-line fundraising platforms for help.

Gone – or almost gone - are the Friday night fish fundraisers at the Eagles Club. In their place is a more impersonal form of raising money via the Internet. (Although the fish fries are still going strong.)

But on-line fundraising has a lot of advantages like 24/7 exposure and the fact that a well-told story has the potential to reach thousands of strangers. The World Wide Web has streamlined asking for money.

Making fundraising pages compatible with Facebook and Twitter can mushroom quickly in results.

But you have to be careful and research the sites thoroughly. Most cost a percentage of what you’re trying to raise, a percent or two or three.

“I’m at the point where I need to double my space,” Andress said. “I have teachers lined up and events planned but without more space it doesn’t work. My project doesn’t qualify for R2AC grants or State Arts Board Grants and I don’t qualify for any of the programs for businesses either. “Taking out a loan is not an option. I have everything I need to double my space except the contractors. This is one of those instances where I just remind myself that nobody owes me anything and keep looking for options.”

“It started out as a question to help me decide if I should do a crowd funding page,” Andress wrote on her blog. “I’m not the kind of girl that goes around asking for free things. It looks like the question has turned into couple possible funding streams to accomplish this project. I have contractors lined up to give me estimates on various parts of the project and am patiently waiting for that part. The question is.....’Will Blue Sky Beads finally get indoor plumbing.’ LOL”

But for people like Andress who loathe asking others for money, crowdfunding takes the anxiety out of the request.

Andress said last weekend she raised a little over 5 percent of the funds she sought and when sales slowed, she turned to something her instincts suggested – selling good quality used books. She has been selling them online, with some success.

“Bwa hahahaahah, my master plan is working,” she indicated. “I’ve sold more books in two weeks than I ever imagined. $20,000 more and indoor plumbing is mine.”

She joked that she has always been an avid reader and that in downsizing her abode, selling books make sense.

Bands are turning to crowdfunding to sell or promote their music. Most can’t afford time in an edgy studio.

For Clint Kako, a relative came to his rescue.

“Clint watched as his home burned in a fire in rural Minnesota,” she implored on her Facebook page.

“He was left with nothing except the clothes on his back. His house burned to the ground. His car burned to the ground. Everything inside his house burned to the ground. He was left with nothing, not even a pair of shoes. If you are able and willing, our family would appreciate your help and assistance. Through this fundraiser, you can help by making a payment via PayPal to help rebuild Clint’s life.”

Kako plans on rebuilding his home.

“Any donations of building materials would also be greatly appreciated!” his sister indicated.

Unlike Andress, a silent auction and benefit is planned in Osage on March 1.

“If you cannot contribute financially, we would appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your loving kindness!”

According to a 2011 Forbes study, 14+ percent of many non-profits’ fundraising went to administrative costs. The relatively low cost of crowdfunding is appealing to both donors and recipients.

Fynboh urged those interested to do their homework first. She chose a site that had no time limits of raising the funds.

“Most give you 90 days and if you don’t raise the goal you lose it,” she said.

Other sites don’t support capital improvement projects. Some are strictly for the arts.

She closes her bead gallery in the winter.

“I would recommend crowdfunding,” she said. “For the time I’m closed the money I’ve raised has been amazing.”

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364