The world has seen crowdfunding campaigns for everything from high-tech fitness gadgets to, more recently, a very expensive potato salad. In fact, in 2013, crowdfunding—a term for the process of gathering contributions, typically online, for a specific project—was estimated to be a $5.1 billion industry, expected to exponentially increase in coming years. It is also an increasingly common practice in churches and nonprofits, as anyone who has sponsored a marathon runner or a 5K walker can attest.

As manager of crowdfunding and social media at Wheat Ridge Ministries, I've seen Christians join the crowdfunding movement, eagerly hoping to raise money for mission trips, school projects, youth programs, and more. When inspired leaders try the crowdfunding model, they often assume that fellow Christians, familiar with giving and generosity, will gladly join in to donate money to their worthy cause.

However, to be successful, Christian crowdfunders need to be just as savvy and strategic as the rest. As God inspires these leaders to take action in their community, it's vital they resist assuming their vision will get in front of the right audiences. I've seen plenty of crowdfunding successes, but also many misconceptions among the faith community about how the process works.

Myth 1: Crowdfunding is simple: If you build it, they will come.

Crowdfunding sites are a tool that the church can use strategically when raising funds and awareness; they are not a quick fix to our funding problems. Just as God worked through methodical, intentional plans throughout the Bible, leaders should approach crowdfunding with a thoughtful plan. In fact, Jesus' sending of the 72 in Luke 10 resembles a good crowdfunding ...

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