How to get crowdfunded to make your dreams come true


Maybe you’re longing to send your daughter to her matric dance but you simply don’t have the cash to kit her out in the gown of her dreams. Perhaps you recently had a medical procedure and you’re drowning in a bucket full of bills. Or maybe your son has just been accepted to medical school but there’s no way you can afford the fees. What to do? Well, you could go crowdfunding.

Gone are the days when a loan from the bank, an application for a bursary or a helping hand from a faithful friend or relative were your only options. These days there’s crowdfunding – and the sky’s the limit.

Reasons for starting a crowdfund can range from the downright bizarre to the heartrending and worthy.

Case in point:

When petrol attendant Nkosikho Mbele assisted customer, Monet van Deventer with a mere R100 he had no idea that his one act of kindness would return tenfold as a half a million rand through crowdfunding.

Another well-known case was that of top triathlete Mhlengi Gwala. Generous South Africans dug deep in their pockets to help pay for the medical treatment he needed after his horror hacksaw attack in 2018. Mhlengi, from Chesterville in KwaZulu-Natal, had been training for the South African Triathlon Championships last month when he was attacked by two men armed with a saw.

He instinctively started offering them his valuables – his iPhone, R12 000 watch and R40 000 bicycle. But his attackers were more interested in bloodshed and started hacking into his right leg. “But the saw was blunt; it couldn’t cut through the bone, so they started cutting my other leg,” he told DRUM. Unable to sever Mhlengi’s leg, his attackers fled – leaving him behind.

Mhlengi would have bled to death were it not for a security guard who rescued the athlete and rushed him to hospital where he underwent an emergency operation. After news of his vicious attack spread, a crowdfunding page – Get Mhlengi back on his bike – was set up to support him with all his medical expenses, transportation, bike replacement and rehabilitation costs.

An initial target of R100 000 was set and later raised to R750 000 – and in just a few days R744 000 had been raised. It’s not surprising that sympathetic people are pitching in to pay it forward for the athlete after his shocking attack – you can coin cash for nearly everything from medical bills to weddings and even toilets. All you need is a crowd.

HOW IT ALL STARTEDOnline crowdfunding first gained popularity in the art and music world. In 1997 fans of British rock band Marillion managed to raise $60 000 (then R300 000) in an online campaign to endorse the band’s United States tour.

That year independent writer and director Mark Tapio Kines created a website to raise funds to finish his film, Foreign Correspondents. Two years later he’d raised more than $125 000 (then R750 000) and was able to complete the production of his first movie. TOP GROSSING CAMPAIGN Crowdfunding is a billion-dollar industry – literally.

 In 2015 it was estimated $34 billion (then R527 billion) was raised in crowdfunding across the world. One of the highest-grossing crowdfunding projects to date is one started by Chris Roberts, the founder of Cloud Imperium Games. The company’s first product is Star Citizen, a major multiplayer online game which is being created with donations from the public. At the time Chris’ campaign smashed the previous record of nearly $21 million (then R178,5 million) – which was set by Pebble smartwatch in 2012 – when it raked in more than $156 million (R1,3 billion in 2015). A release date for Star Citizen has yet to be set.


In 2012 there were an estimated 700-plus online crowdfunding websites worldwide. With so many public donation platforms available, it’s not surprising crowdfunding is being seen as something of a budding economy.

Virtually anyone can sign up.

Here’s how:

Determine your project

Decide what it is you intend to raise funds for. Your project should have a clear objective, a monetary target and a time limit. Preparation is key. To have a site host your donation page, you’ll need to pitch your project. This is done through submission of a short video, explaining what your mission is, what the money will be used for and why you believe it will make a difference. Above all, your pitch needs to be an attention-grabber.

Pick a platform

Once you’ve established what it is you’re raising money for and you’ve created your video pitch, choose a website to submit it to. Sign up for that site but make sure you read the terms and conditions attached to each platform carefully. For example, GoFundMe, the world’s biggest crowdfunding platform, requires 5% of every donation you receive. Some sites have an all-or-nothing policy where you forfeit all money raised if you don’t reach your target within the predetermined time.

Get started!

Tell friends and family about your crowdfunding page then keep your fingers crossed that the donations roll in. Thank each person for their contribution and keep them updated as things unfold. That way your donors feel involved.


Mzondi is an informal settlement in Ivory Park, west of the city of Ekurhuleni, which houses over 400 people. Residents constructed their own shacks, built a pipeline to provide water and electrified the settlement.

However, they have only four toilets catering for everybody and none of them has shelter or privacy. They want to build 30 toilets spread out across the community. Having set a target of R60 000, they raised R68 000 from 189 donors on their crowdfunding page. The community pledged to use the change to have the toilets professionally installed.


Karabo Masedi is passionate about women’s rights. The 25-year-old humanities graduate was selected as a 2018 fellow at The Amani Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, which offers a social innovation management programme supported by Harvard University.

“As a fellow I will build cutting-edge 21st century skills with the help of global practitioners,” Karabo says on her page, Get Karabo Masedi to Amani Institute Brazil. “I can use the knowledge acquired to develop working systems to develop SA.” Karabo was offered a 70% bursary from the institute but needs help to realise her dream of raising R148 000 in 42 days.


Imagine forking out R30 000 for a lavish wedding you won’t even attend! Yet two donors have contributed R29 500 and R28 500 each to help a Cape Town couple have their dream wedding. Mario Tieras (32) and his fiancée, Lydia van Wyk (39), are asking for a cool 200 000 randelas so they can host their dream wedding, complete with 100 guests, an after-party and a week-long honeymoon in the Maldives.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and my partner should feel special. So to ask for help to make my day special, I guess it won’t harm anybody,” he told the Sunday Times. The couple is now racing against time to fundraise the outstanding amount for their upcoming wedding in June.