Kamal Bell is a middle school educator and farmer located in Durham, North Carolina. With his farm, Sankofa Farms, he seeks to resolve issues around food insecurity for those living in food deserts in his area. To bridge the gap between older and younger farmers, he created the Sankofa Farms Agricultural Academy for at-risk youth. Kamal recently used crowdfunding to raise money for a van so that he and his team can transfer students to and from the academy.
Last summer was the pilot year for our agricultural academy. Each day, I used my personal vehicle to pick up students, one by one, to transport them to daily camp activities. This added 3,000 miles to my car, and my car was feeling the wear and tear. The day after camp ended, my car went out of commission.
We were in dire need of a new vehicle to help support the farm and academy. If we could get a van, we could not only enroll more students, but also transport farm fresh food to communities that are considered food deserts — areas without good access to fresh fruits and vegetables. In the past, I’d attempted to raise $1,400 for another project but was only able to secure one-fifth of that goal — this time, we needed $7,000! I decided to learn more about the inner workings of launching a campaign, and then started “A Van for Hope” on Kickstarter.com. To my surprise, the campaign exceeded its initial goal. It almost brought me to tears!
How did we do it? And what did I learn about fundraising? Here are my thoughts on the crowdfunding process from my own experience.
Organizing the campaign
It was actually pretty simple to create a campaign online. There are about eight steps to complete, and the hardest step for us was creating a quality video to show patrons what our campaign was about. My advice: Before you start your campaign, make sure you have a well-thought-out plan for the digital media that you’ll use and for how you’ll get information about your fundraising progress out to potential donors. People respond to videos: I honestly feel that if our video hadn’t been appealing, we would not have raised the funds for the van.