Using Crowdfunding to Buy Assistive Technology

Illustration of idea plus people equal money

What is crowdfunding?

Crowd-sourced funding, best known as crowdfunding, is a new method of raising funds to support a cause or meet a need. This includes fundraising for personal causes or medical needs, such as buying assistive technology devices.
Crowdfunding requires access to the Internet, using a computer or a smartphone. It relies on peer-to-peer networking on social media platforms, most often Facebook and Twitter. Successful crowdfunding also may include reaching out to local newspapers, or radio and TV stations.

How does crowdfunding work?

People or groups use fundraising websites to set up crowdfunding accounts to ask for donations. First, fundraisers write a statement that tells their story. They describe what they need and ask others for a donation. Next, they make a plan to spread the word about their campaign. Then they share their news and updates on social media.

What does it cost to use a crowdfunding website?

Many crowdfunding sources charge a fee to raise money on their websites. Fees range from 3% to 15% of the donation total. In other words, based on a 5% fee, the site would charge $5.00 on a donation of $100
Crowdfunding uses a third party to collect the funds. Most often, the third party is a credit card company or PayPal. The companies charge for each donation made. The usual charge for this is 2.9% of the amount donated, plus a $.30 charge for each donation. In other words, the third party would charge $3.20 for a donation of $100.

Crowdfunding sites work on a “keep it all” or “all or nothing” model. Some sites offer both models. The keep it all model allows fundraisers to access funds right away, and keep all donations. The all or nothing model requires fundraisers to set goals. If the goal is not met, all funds are returned to those who made donations.

How do I start a crowdfunding campaign?

Follow the steps below to get started. If you don’t use social media, reach out to family and friends for help. And check out the crowdfunding sites listed below for more information and support.

  • Set up Facebook and/or Twitter accounts if you don’t have them. Reach out to family and friends to let them know about your campaign.
  • Research crowdfunding websites. Look at the most successful fundraisers on the sites. Check out site reviews. Read their rules, including tax information. Study funding models and figure out the cost to use each site. Some sites offer tips to help promote your fundraising.
  • Take time to write your statement. Your story should be brief and clear. Most important, your story should inspire people to give to your cause. Adding high-quality photos will help tell your story. Some sites allow you to submit videos.
  • Describe the assistive technology device you want to buy. Tell people what you need, and why you need it. Include a photo of the device or an online link, if you have one.
  • Create an outreach plan. Use the social media on the crowdfunding sites to get word out to family and friends. Ask them to share your story. Most fundraising sites are connected to Facebook and Twitter. Sites that include videos are connected to YouTube.
  • Be patient and don’t give up! Ask twice. Share personal and campaign updates on the site and on social media. And thank your donors!
  • Consider holding an event to kick-off your campaign. Share news about the event and your campaign with local media outlets.

Iowa Compass created these steps with information from Ability Tools of California. We have shared it with their permission.

To check out some of the crowdfunding sites and for more information and support, visit: How to Use Crowdfunding to Buy Assistive Technology