Citizenville is a civic crowdfunding platform to support Mississippians doing great things in their community, from large initiatives like creating a green alley to small ones, like funding a neighborhood block party. We bring together local citizens and sponsors to support great initiatives in their communities. Backers are the local citizens who pledge money to support these initiatives. Project Creator is the person or team behind the idea or community project. Sponsors are large organizations (businesses/foundations) that step in to provide matching dollars towards qualifying projects to double their impact while receiving extended publicity for doing so.
Crowdfunding is the process of getting a LARGE Group of People (the crowd) to Financially Support (the funding) a project within a certain constrained time frame. The transparency and sense of urgency has lead to the success in crowdfunding. Projects have a specific funding goal, a deadline, a pitch explaining it’s importance, impact, and why it deserves your donation, as well as a few giving levels which may include rewards or incentives for your contributions.
Citizenville is also about crowd-resourcing because we want you to get all the resources you need for a successful project. We connect you to other civic leaders, host crowdfunding workshops, webinars, and discussions to support thought leadership in local solutions and civic engagement.
This could be happening for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s an overprotective firewall at work – try accessing the project on a personal computer or smartphone. You can also try different browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox (our favorite 2). If you’re still having problems, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In crowdfunding, the crowd always comes before the funds. So the biggest benefit you generate from any crowdfunding campaign (even if you don’t reach your funds) is publicity first and foremost.
Crowdfunding democratizes the access of capital and funding in a way where people get to cast a vote with their dollars about what they want to see created. This grassroots support provides the freedom to not be solely dependent upon a bank, a grant, or a few donors for support.
If you are still not sure how crowdfunding can benefit you, email us at info@Citizenville.org! Feel free to pick our brains and will help you figure out if it’s the best fit for you.
These are all great platforms, and it’s important you choose the best one for your needs. Below are a few things that make Citizenville unique:
Vision – We are committed to building a vibrant communities across Mississippi. Every project on board now becomes part of creating that vision, every new Backer is one more in a movement committed to the state.
Personalized Support – Raising funds can be scary. We provide one-on-one support by coaching you throughout the whole process. From developing your pitch, selecting the best perks, to creating a funding strategy. Our team has crowdfunded dozens of projects, so we know what it’s like to ride that roller coaster.
Sponsors – Citizenville looks to partner with Sponsors who step in on a larger level offering grants for qualifying projects. Be a sponsor today and allow us to manage a grant that is proven through community support.
You’re just one of thousands of projects on these sites. You’re just noise, while on Citizenville you’re the signal. We help to share your project with a more personal network, the Michigan community at large, to gather support and expand your reach.
It’s absolutely free to create and launch your project. We will provide support and advice from beginning to end. We just collect a standard 5% fee on all funds raised. In addition, our credit card processing company, Stripe, collects a 3% processing fee for all online contributions. If you don’t raise any funds we don’t collect any either. That’s because your success is our success. It’s that simple.
New to Citizenville, donors have the option to cover all fees at checkout. They will be charged additionally on top of their contribution amount if they choose to do so.
Creating a project is super easy – just Start Project Here or if you have any other questions, send an email to jj@Citizenville.org to get started.
We are a small team but our goal is to verify all projects within 24 hours of submission.
Preparing for and running a Citizenville campaign is hard work and great fun in equal measure. If you prepare well, you’ll boost your chances of having a successful and exciting campaign.
Research your budget
How much money do you need? Are you raising the full budget or a portion of it? Do you have a suitable contingency? Avoid later headaches by doing your research, and be as transparent as you can. Supporters will appreciate it.
Consider your networks
Citizenville is not a magical source of money. Funding comes from a variety of sources — your friends and colleagues, your broader social or business networks, and, if your project does well, strangers from the broader Citizenville community and even broader world wide web. It’s up to you to build that momentum for your project – it won’t happen automatically.
Choose your goal
Once you’ve researched your budget and considered your reach, you’re ready to set your funding goal. Because funding is all-or-nothing, you’ll only collect what you raise if you hit your target – so make sure it feels realistic. Think about out how much money you need to complete your project as promised (while considering how much funding you think you can realistically generate), and select an amount close to that.
Set your project deadline
Funding can last anywhere from one to 365 days, however a longer duration is not necessarily better. Short projects that prepare well for their campaign, and push hard during it, tend to do better because they create a sense of excitement and urgency. Longer projects tend to encourage procrastination and lose momentum.
Take your time to build your project page! The most successful projects generally take a good couple of weeks to make their project look as engaging as possible before launching. A thoughtful and methodical approach can pay off.
Choose a snappy project title
Your project title should be simple, specific, and memorable, and it should include the title of the civic project you’re raising funds for. Imagine your title as a distinct identity that will set it apart (“Let’s create a garden” isn’t as memorable or searchable as “Fondren’s Exotic Flower Garden”).
Choose an eye-catching image
Your project image is how you will be represented on Citizenville and the rest of the web. Pick something that accurately reflects your project, as well as looking exciting so that people click on it!
Select a high-resolution bright and colourful image. You can use basic photo editing softwares to brighten up the light and increase the colour saturation.
Choose a landscape picture, if possible. If you upload a portrait image, the system will automatically display only a section of the image. To see the full size of it, you need to click on it.
Please note that the image name has to contain the file extension – e.g. .jpeg, .jpg, .png etc.- otherwise the system will not recognise the format.
Make a video
Create a short video that explains what you’ll do with people’s money and gets across your passion for what your project. It doesn’t have to be Hollywood, it just has to sell what’s great about your project to a stranger.
Write an intro that captures it
Your short intro appears when people are searching for projects on Citizenville and in posts about it shared on social media. It’s the best place to quickly communicate to your audience what your project is about.
Stay focused and be clear on what your project aims to accomplish. If you had to describe your project in one tweet, how would you do it?
Write your public profile
Your public profile is a great opportunity to share more about you. Why did you take on this project? What prior work can you share via links? This is key to earning the trust of potential funders.
Get feedback on your project page from friends, colleagues and strangers as you develop it. If they don’t get what it’s all about quickly, and get excited, you probably haven’t got it quite right yet!
Citizenville projects can run for anytime up to 365 days, but we recommend keeping to the guidelines below. Please note, your fundraising campaign period cannot be changed once your project is live.
- Up to $5000 = four weeks
- Up to $15,000 = eight weeks
- Up to $50,000 = twelve weeks
- Up to $1,000,000 = six months
Shorter projects set a tone of confidence, excitement and urgency, which helps to motivate people to get behind you. It can be hard to maintain interest and momentum over long drawn-out campaigns. Short campaigns do require a great deal of pre-planning, including things like warming up your backers and drawing up a campaign timeline. The more work you put in beforehand, the easier time you’ll have throughout the campaign!
When choosing your campaign launch date, please take into consideration that verification typically takes 1-7 days depending on the complexity of the project. To speed up the verification process, make sure to have proof of quotations and permissions ready to present if need be.
Similarly, if you need the funds by a certain date, please bear in mind that it can take up to two weeks for the funds to come through after hitting your target. Unverified PayPal accounts are the main cause for delays, so please make sure your payment accounts are verified by the time you hit your target.
Can projects raise more than their goal?
As soon as you reach your fundraising target your campaign will end, disallowing any more pledges. However, if the final pledge is larger than the amount left to raise then these extra funds will be accepted.
Hassle-free Evaluation Process: Citizenville serves as the filter to evaluate projects to ensure they meet your grant requirements and qualify. We manage the evaluation process and pass on the specifics of the project to you for a quick final approval or rejection.
Doubling the Impact: Your dollars are multiplied, as projects through our CrowdGranting model have to reach out to the community to raise funds and prove its worth within the community to receive the match.
Widespread Publicity & Exposure: As a Sponsor, projects are going out far and wide to collect contributions, reaching thousands of potential supporters and all the while publicizing your support towards their project. Your name is connected to every social media post, email blast, tv spot, and news article about the project.
Community Support: The community weighs in and projects therefore only receive matching funds after showcasing its support from the greater community. This added vetting process adds to the projects sustainability as so many vested parties are coming in to make this project possible.
Getting media coverage is a great way to build awareness and get more people pledging to your campaign but it’s not always the easiest to do. Follow these seven steps to write a press release, contact journalists and let the world know you’re a community crowdfunding hero.
- Pitch it real good
Running a crowdfunding campaign isn’t in and of itself newsworthy (we obviously think it’s pretty great though!) so it’s important to wow the media with your story instead. Is your project the first of its kind? Will it break records by being the biggest, oldest, longest, most superlative of projects? Find the angle that makes your project special and selling your story will get much, much easier.
For more guidance, check out our article on how to write a powerful press release here.
- Start local
Your story is immediately more relevant to people in the area (and importantly they’re the ones most likely to pledge to your campaign!) so start by contacting the local newspapers and radio stations first.
- Research relevant journalists and publications
Is your project helping the environment? Or creating jobs? Or making something beautiful, weird or giant that people will want to know about? Consider which publications would be most interested in covering your story and hit them first.
- Reach out to influencers, not just media.
Zoella is a YouTube celebrity with more than double the online following of the Financial Times. She might not be the best person to promote your project but it’s a good idea to think outside of mainstream media and make a list of local bloggers, tweeters and community influencers (whether the head of the local Mom’s group or the landlord of the most popular pub in town) who could help promote your project to an even larger audience.
- The sooner the better
Contact journalists early on in your campaign so that there are more opportunities for them to cover your story and so that any subsequent press coverage can help you to raise awareness and funds for your campaign.
- Include high-resolution photos
A picture speaks a thousand words and can often sell your story better than your most powerful paragraphs. Oh and journalists always appreciate it when they don’t have to go finding appropriate images themselves. Fact.
- Reach out again every time you hit a campaign milestone
So they didn’t bite when you sent them the press release about your campaign launch? No worries. Get in touch again whenever you hit significant milestones – a crowdfunding campaign may not capture a journalist’s imagination but 100 or more local backers, celebrity supporters or significant donations may well do.
How do I approach businesses for a pledge?
Timing it right
As you’re adding value to the neighbourhood, local businesses will be keen to put their name to the cause. However, approaching them at the right time is essential to making sure that your efforts aren’t in vain! Businesses will only wish to back projects that already have a significant amount of backers, so make sure not to approach them prematurely. When the time is right, pop in and ask for a chat with the store manager ‘to hear their thoughts on a local community project you’re running’. If they’re not in, arrange a time to come back, or if that’s not possible ask for an email address/phone number.
When you meet them for the first time, make sure to take a carefully put together info pack.
Also, make sure to familiarize yourself with the the potential reasons that the local businesses you’re approaching would be interested in supporting you. Check out what these businesses said to get a better idea:
In the event that circumstances change and you are no longer able to deliver your project please contact us as soon as possible and we will end your funding campaign, meaning none of your backers will be charged. We recommend you use the Update Tool to notify all of your backers before we end your campaign.
Regular communication helps to build trust and keep people engaged. There are many ways you can communicate with your backers:
- Citizenville Update Tool; try to send an update every week or two with an image and maybe some social media post templates for them to copy, paste, and post.
- Email; you can access the names and email addresses of all your backers in the Your Crowd tab in your Dashboard if you wish to send out personal thank yous.
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.); use post scheduling tools Buffer/Hootsuite to ensure a steady stream of posts, and Canva to make interesting accompanying graphics. Consider posting short 10-sec videos of your backers explaining why they’re supporting the project.
- Newsletters; use your own mailing lists as well as those of others to promote your campaign far and wide!
- Events; re-spark your audience’s excitement with wine and pizza at a 50% event. Getting everyone together in one room is very powerful and will catalyse another wave of pledges.
- Leaflets and posters; bright and colourful, help them to imagine what they’ll get if the campaign succeeds. Don’t forget to use your project link/URL!
A pledge is a promise that the backer will pay the project creator if they hit their target. When a project hits its target, Citizenville send an email around to all backers, informing them that the project was successfully funded and the project creator is stay in contact during the implementation stage.
After this email, Citizenville will collect the pledges to send them to the project creator within 1-2 weeks. If a project creator has not verified their PayPal/Stripe accounts then the funds transferral is delayed. When planning your campaign time frame please factor these potential delays in if you are in a rush with your project.
For funds received via PayPal you will receive several individual deposits from each of your backers in your PayPal account. PayPal will notify you when the deposits are made. Once you have received your funds you can extract them to your bank account.