Experts say crowdfunding is struggle to stand out, stay safe

Experts say crowdfunding is struggle to stand out, stay safe

Rob Grisham was cooking at the same Madison restaurant for seven years before heart issues landed him in the hospital multiple times. He decided it was time for a change.

Grisham left for Portland, lived there for a year, worked at numerous restaurants and came back to Madison to realize a new goal.

“I just wanted to do something that could be an open-ended business model,” Grisham said.

So the 31-year-old chef started the Isthmus Dining Company, but with medical bills and no business experience, he needed a financial kick start. For that, he turned to Kickstarter, but he knew it would take more than posting a link.

“Being proactive in everything you’re doing and proactive in your business model, trying while these people are trying to help you,” Grisham said.

Grisham has provided updates to his dozen or so donors, making sure they know the progress he has made. He served his first meal under the Isthmus Dining Company last week.

He’s raised $3,000 of his $5,000 goal.

“In order to succeed, you have to make it succeed,” Grisham said.

As Grisham tries to prove his cause is a worthy one, Laura Mael with the Better Business Bureau said contributors need to be asking others to prove their need actually exists.

“It’s kind of changing the face of charitable giving across the nation,” Mael said.

Mael said while there are more opportunities to find what you define as charity, it also gives criminals more chances to scam you with fake philanthropies.

“I think you need to research, ask questions, and call,” Mael said. “Make sure there’s someone on the other end of that ask. If you ask questions and they’re not getting answered, then find somebody else to donate to.”

Mael stressed that anyone asking for your money should be able to prove that they need those funds for the purpose they’re advertising.

Mael said you also want to check how much the site hosting the crowd funding takes from donations. She said that amount should be around 3 percent, but there could also be processing fees and transaction fees.

“It doesn’t have to be your grandfather’s or your grandmother’s charity. It can be one that you dream up in your head, and it could very well be honest and true. I just want you to make sure it is honest and true,” Mael said.

If you’d like to contribute to Grisham’s business venture, visit his Kickstarter page.