The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Crowdfunding – as much about the crowd it creates, as the funds it raises

Wednesday, 10 July 2024, 13:59 Last update: about 6 days ago

Giselle Borg Olivier is manager at Zaar Crowdfunding Malta and non-executive board member of the European Crowdfunding Network AISBL. To find out more about Zaar, visit www.zaar.com.mt

Crowdfunding doesn't just raise money - it can also help business, cultural, research and community ventures to achieve their goals.

Although a globally popular form of alternate finance, crowdfunding's purpose is often misunderstood as being solely about money. And since campaigns for philanthropic organisations or charities have helped it gain such widespread popularity, this has birthed another misconception - that crowdfunding is for this sector alone.

At Zaar - Malta's only reward-based crowdfunding platform - we recognise crowdfunding's multi-faceted potential to become a transformative tool beyond finance, for projects from nearly any background.

Our mission builds on four robust pillars: Business, Culture, Research and Community, each designed to guide project owners through a process that helps them raise funds, reach their long-term goals, boost awareness, enhance their marketing strategy and build trust-based relationships with their target audience.

What's more, data collected through crowdfunding can become currency for project owners. Any campaign's list of supporters paves the way for continuous targeting and engagement, allowing project owners to build rapport and gather valuable insights.

For business owners and entrepreneurs, crowdfunding under Zaar's Business pillar can result in advantages that could be game-changing, particularly if they use crowdfunding to finance small projects related to their business. Zaar focuses on reward-based crowdfunding, whereby backers receive non-financial rewards instead of equity, making this model ideal for freelancers, entrepreneurs, start-ups and new market entrants in need of small infusions of capital. But crowdfunding also provides other opportunities. Successful campaigns provide validation and reassurance of market interest, while unsuccessful ones can highlight solvable issues such as poor timing, marketing or message clarity.

Zaar's Culture pillar gives centre stage to projects from the worlds of the arts, theatre, music and literature. Although popular internationally, Maltese creatives have yet to fully harness crowdfunding's potential for their projects. Yet, crowdfunding offers creatives a blank canvas to have fun and be as bold and innovative as they dare. For example, it could be used as a pre-sales tool to secure funding for a production well in advance. While these funds might help improve the show, it also guarantees tickets sold before booking opens. This approach also fosters a unique relationship of trust and collaboration between artists and backers, with supporters often becoming integral to a project, enjoying rewards such as behind-the-scenes access or even walk-on roles.

Our Research pillar aims to support educational and research pursuits in Malta. Here, project owners such as academics, Master's and PhD students, or anyone involved in the research sector, can use crowdfunding to build visibility and encourage engagement with their ideas, as well as raise funds. By showcasing projects to a broader audience, project owners can attract interest outside the circle of their academic peers or supervisors, with the increased exposure opening doors to unexpected opportunities and collaborations, while highlighting the broader impact of their work.

The exposure afforded through crowdfunding on Zaar also benefits projects in our Community pillar. Malta has a network of voluntary and non-governmental organisations, each deeply committed to various causes - and, likewise, the Maltese community is renowned for its generosity of spirit. Through raising funds with the transparency and accessibility of a trusted online platform, community projects can rally public support and awareness for initiatives that resonate on a personal level.

My recent appointment as a non-executive board member of the European Crowdfunding Network AISBL underscores the importance of reward-based crowdfunding and positions Zaar as a key player in Europe's crowdfunding landscape. However, Zaar - much like the Maltese word it alludes to - remains small, focusing on connecting each exciting project on the platform with communities in Malta.

Crowdfunding allows everyone to start from the same place, with an opportunity to shine - especially important for those not usually in the spotlight.

So, to anyone considering crowdfunding, I say: try it! Understand your project, set realistic financial goals and embrace the marketing and engagement process, for crowdfunding is more than a financial tool: it's a platform for transformation, community-building and sustained growth that could make all the difference to your next project.


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