The fast growing emergence of Digital Marketing and Social Media in the world of business today is offering many revolutionary opportunities for the exploration of new horizons. These technologies are commonly focused and employed in domains of marketing and consumer research though they can be very effective being powerfully utilized in the practice of crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing describes the practice of companies or individuals obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people especially from the online community rather than from traditional employees or suppliers.
The crowdsourcing principle highlights the fact that more heads are better than one. By canvassing a large crowd of people for ideas, skills, or participation, the quality of content and the creation of ideas will definitely be superior. Proper application of crowdsourcing to a business allows the selection of the best result from a sea of ‘best entries,’ as opposed to being compelled to receive the best entry from a single provider. Results can also be delivered much faster than traditional methods since crowdsourcing is a form of freelancing.
Social businesses, especially non-profits, can make use of crowdsourcing by applying it from fundraising and marketing to activism and volunteerism. With this concept, non-profits can harness the power of the crowd, to increase awareness about their cause, gather information, cultivate new donors and volunteers, and even get work done.
Even in its earlier days, people have been using the internet to solicit and organize groups of people to play small roles in projects. We can, therefore, define the actions of crowdsourcing in modern social business as engaging communities whether your group of volunteers, donors and clients, your local community or a community of like-minded people to provide contributions, ideas, and feedback you may not generally get. The idea of outsourcing non-profit tasks via crowdsourcing can demonstrate openness and transparency in decision making and there are different models of this application that exist for social business. These models include;
Attracting collective knowledge: This crowdsourcing model involves the sharing and aggregation of information to find solutions to problems as it centers around the idea of two or more heads being better than one.
Micro volunteering: In this crowdsourcing model, large tasks are broken into much smaller ones enabling the possibility of outsourcing repetitive jobs to the crowd. Micro volunteering was successfully applied after the Hurricane Katrina when huge numbers of volunteers manually recorded 15,200 entries to consolidate every one of the sources of information about missing people. Non-profits can learn how to effectively apply this crowd sourcing model by utilizing local fundraising consulting services.
Crowd creation: Here, crowds are used to help produce original works of art. This model is similar to an open source project where contributions are made by many people.
Crowd voting: Because everybody has an opinion, this crowdsourcing model is designed to explore people’s love to express themselves by voting on something or rating and giving feedback. Tapping into that desire can achieve an increase in awareness for your cause while drawing in valuable new audiences for your message.
Crowd funding: This category comprises the general idea of encouraging individuals and crowds to financially support projects that benefit others. Some Non-profits across the United States are optimizing crowd funding as communities are mobilizing crowds to provide funds on specials ”giving days”. For example, in November 2011, over $13.4 million was raised on ”Give To The Max Day” in Minnesota.
Any of these models or categories can be used in isolation or combined with other approaches to match the goals of your particular organization.
After looking at the ideal possible crowdsourcing models for your organization, it’s similarly important to practice this revolutionary concept with the caution of always keeping things simple and meaningful. For example, if your non-profit needed to design new plans for an upcoming annual fundraising event, the organization’s fundraising manager could email all supporters asking for ideas and suggestions.
Although every non-profit organization may have different specific ways to make productive use of crowdsourcing, it’s necessary to always keep in mind the following guidelines and tips in any social business model to ensure productivity and success;
Always begin by choosing the right model for the goals of your organization. This involves figuring out what you are trying to achieve and finding ways to approach the goals by choosing the right crowd, establishing a crowdsourcing campaign and getting the word out to the right people. Develop a complete outreach plan which combines the use of social media and emails to access current supporters. These current supporters are key to the entire plan as they most often have access to networks of people with similar interests which helps in passing your project along.
For example, choosing a crowd funding website that closely matches your goal sets a good platform. Such delicate decisions in the planning stages of non-profits are always more efficient with proper engagement of a non profit consulting professional.
Keep it Simple:
Keep your message as simple as possible to communicate so that it’s easy to help it get passed along. Break down strategic goals into smaller tasks people can assist with and always make what you want the crowd to do very clear. Crowd funding is a relatively easy means of soliciting support and is most successful when crowd funding initiatives rely on family, friends, and colleagues rather than strangers. In order to achieve goals, setting reasonable expectations is key- together with the acknowledgment of traditional fundraising rules of credibility, strong networks, a track record of success and transparency.
Engage and Reward Participation:
When implementing crowdsourcing methods to engage new groups of potential supporters, be as creative as possible in the effort to extend your campaign to places hoping to reach new audiences. Consider and establish programs to regularly engage with current supporters and introduce the giving of incentives and rewards for participation.
It’s important throughout every campaign to stay both privately and publicly positive. Also, remaining personable with people who may contribute combined with personal interactions increases the prospect of a donation or action. Believe in the process, forget any activity that doesn’t clearly support your mission and stay focused on the mission.
Crowd funding can produce valuable results when properly applied in social business and key to this success is the making of instructions as clear as possible after specific analyses and before creation of the marketing plan. The easiest way to get your crowdfunding campaign on the right path is to hire profit consulting services or fundraising consulting professionals that specialize in crowdsourcing.