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 Post subject: Evolving Ways to Fundraise
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:21 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:38 am
Posts: 949
Location: Philadelphia
I am VERY happy to read about the plan to preserve the ex EL SDP45 in VA and it has me thinking about evolving ways to donate. Crowdfunding platforms, such as GoFundMe, while contributing to many great causes, might be for profit. First, I want my donation to be secure, second to do the most good. I’m almost 40 and while I hardly use checks these days I would rather send one to support the preservation of engine #123 and keep the fee loss to a minimum.

What trends are historical societies noticing in the way people donate? Do donors value the security as much as/more so than the convince of online crowdfunding? Is the increase of popularity of online crowdfunding with fees taken out worth it to not worry about the fees? Do any platforms offer discounted or no fee options for non-profits?

GoFundMe- 10% fee right?
FundRazr- looks about 5%?
PayPal- usually a fee but not with friends/family

Best Regards,



 Post subject: Re: Evolving Ways to Fundraise
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 3:30 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 321
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
Non-profit fees for PayPal donations are slightly above 2% (2% plus a small fixed cost per transaction). We have found it to be efficient way to receive funding for our overhaul of Alaska Railroad 557. It is cost- and labor-effective. The donor uses a credit card and doesn't need to have a PayPal account. We use electronic transfers from PayPal to our bank and there are no added fees or minimum balances. For large donations we encourage a check, but 98% of a donation is a lot better than no donation and it is our goal to make it as easy as possible for people to give us money. It is also an efficient way to accept contributions from outside of the U.S. which can be made in foreign currencies - we have contributors from half a dozen countries.

You can see what the contributor sees on our web page at

 Post subject: Re: Evolving Ways to Fundraise
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 2:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:29 pm
Posts: 1393
Location: Youngstown, OH
We chose to use Fundrazr instead of Gofundme for the Extra 3639 North campaign because unlike Gofundme, Fundrazr is a pass through entity and all donations immediately go into our Paypal account. The site asks for a "tip" but that tip is purely optional. The usual Paypal percentage is deducted from each donation but it isn't all that much.

The other nice thing about Fundrazr is that I can easily add offline contributions to the site, thus adding all of our fundraising proceeds to the goal listed on the page. We are simultaneously running a T shirt fundraiser on Customink and every few days I update the Fundrazr total with the T shirt sales so we always have an accurate accounting of where we are with regards to progress toward the goal.

We are at $8,262 which is 41% toward our goal and we are only 13 days into the campaign, and that can be seen on the Fundrazr page.

Fundrazr Campaign Page:

Customink Campaign Page:

The one thing that has been absolutely amazing at getting the word out about this project is a walk around inspection video that I did of the 6670 in Roanoke a couple of months ago. It is at 27,400 views which is as close to a "viral" video that I have ever done! What really helps is that we have 2,900 subscribers to our channel so far and having that initial base of views kicks it up in the ratings and therefore the snowball effect is more likely to happen.

I highly recommend that every rail museum should have a Youtube channel on which should be posted interesting videos. Look at the stuff we have on Youngstown Steel Heritage. Nothing has high production values, they are just neat videos of rail and industry interest and of course the J&L 58 videos are mainly of me talking about restoring the locomotive. People LOVE to watch other people work in stuff, so if you are restoring something and not putting updates on Youtube about it, you are missing out on a great opportunity for outreach to potential supporters.

And the Youtube audience is completely different from the audience you will get on Facebook!

BTW, if you find this information helpful, please make a donation to the Extra 3639 North project! (shameless plug!)

Rick Rowlands
J&L Narrow Gauge Railroad
"The shortest and narrowest Railroad in Ohio"

 Post subject: Re: Evolving Ways to Fundraise
PostPosted: Thu Sep 13, 2018 3:08 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 4118
Location: Maine
Crowd Funding works only if you have something "super sexy" to offer. My feeling is it's over used and over depended on for raising large amounts.
I think if you offer something as an acknowledgement of their contribution you can do better.

I have one of Rick Rowlands great Porter locomotive tee-shirts which didn't give him a huge amount, but it did garner some bucks. I believe these is another for the ex-EL SDP-45 salvation.

New England Steam Corp. gives an enamel "Restoration Supporter" pin for donations of $100 or more. (Wow! Get yours now!)

Most people will listen to your pitch, but getting some recognition for your donation works well. In these days of 3D printing, your restoration can usually come up with something unique to your project.

"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela

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