Raising money is one of the hardest things an executive will ever have to do. For the founder of a startup, raising money can feel like the only job. For the first few years, the most important thing you will do is raise money to keep the company afloat.
Counterintuitively, profitability is not the goal of a startup. Unloading it for hundreds of millions is the target. Sure, VCs want to see profits. But they are far more interested in a company’s potential to make a profit down the road. Amazon is the darling of tech investors because of potential profit, not current profits.
Of course, there are other reasons a company will need to raise money. Charitable organizations do nothing but raise money. They quite literally could not exist without generous donations. Sometimes, organizations will help raise money for a community cause such as restoring a historic landmark or providing disaster relief.
Regardless of why you raise the money, it is still one of the hardest things to do. You feel like a panhandler if not an outright con artist. You have to find a way to raise money that will make people believe in your cause and open their wallets and purses. Fortunately, there are more creative ways of asking for money than just asking for money. Here are a few examples:
One Brick at a Time
Leo Laporte, the famous tech personality formerly of TechTV, built his previous studio dubbed The Brick House, with donations from fans. Those donations came in the form of buying personalized bricks that formed a wall of the studio. Fans could come and visit their bricks. But mostly, it was a symbolic gesture of support.
It worked spectacularly.
It can also work for you. The first thing you need is a company that can produce these bricks with a process so reliable, they guarantee it for life. Companies such as Fundraising Brick can offer such guarantees because of their laser etching techniques that have stood the test of time.
You don’t want to sell fundraising bricks to people that don’t serve as a lasting memento to the cause. A commemorative brick can be sold at almost any price. The value is based on the cause rather than the item. Give people a symbol of their contribution. And they will build the future you envision one brick at a time.
People love coffee table books. These large-format vehicles for great photography make cherished gifts for enthusiasts. And they always sell at a price that is disproportionate to their cost. That said, can find great value in these types of books. It is not just the photos of their favorite fictional starship, but the inside story behind the story.
Your company also has an inside story behind the story. Design books are an excellent way to tell the story of a product or company that values attention to detail. Apple did such a book not that long ago. BlackBerry could have used such a vehicle to raise funds when it was struggling for survival. Even people who were not fans of the product would have appreciated having a collectible from an important industry innovator.
Commemorative books to not have to cost a lot to produce to achieve high value. Limiting the number of copies will automatically make the ones you produce more valuable to fans. So give fans a chance to support you by offering them a taste of the inside story.
Auctions are tried and true ways to raise money for a cause. You can get people to donate items for auction. Other businesses can also chip in, as it tends to be inexpensive advertising for them. Auctions cost almost nothing to set up. Competitive bidding means that the price is raised by the people who want the item the most.
It doesn’t require a lot of items, just a few desirable ones such as common items that belonged to famous people. With an auction, people are competing with each other to give you more money. That’s a win-win for everyone.
Whether it be bricks, books, or auctions, you can raise money without begging. It is all about giving people interesting ways to participate in the process.