Crowdfunding in Belarus: Tools, Rules and Mistakes

The second offline training session of the school of fundraising, which is organized by ODB Brussels in partnership with the Belarusian human rights organization Human Constanta and "Koopp Forum International”, within the framework of the programme CSOs Resource Centre programme and with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany, was dedicated to crowdfunding. Participants got a chance to listen to presentations made by representatives of all crowdfunding platforms from Belarus.

Alyona Lis, Head of ODB Brussels

At the beginning of the training session Alyona Lis, head of ODB Brussels, noted that crowdfunding has effectively worked and developed since 2015. “Instead of going by theory, it is best to study crowdfunding with practical examples – and not necessarily successful ones. Some social projects  which took part in the Biz4all "Social Entrepreneurship Incubator" programme already had successful fundraising experience as part of their home assignments, and those who could not reach the ultimate 100% received some added value, such as PR, team building or knowledge”.

You can read more about crowdfunding campaigns of Belarusian social enterprises on our website:  English-Language Tours of Minsk by the Heta Belarus, Dzietka! Team: Positive Image of Belarus and  Angels' Wings Team Back from Overseas: on Crowdfunding and Their Travel Impressions.

School of fundraising. Session 2 "Crowdfunding". Illustrations by: Katsiaryna Dmitrieva. ODB Brussels. statistics and hard work

Anastasiya Kastsiugova, digital director for development of the charity platform "Ulej", was the first to speak before the participants of the “school of fundraising”. She began with a training session and finished with a presentation of and a Q&A session. “Crowdfunding is actually an instrument of bring the product onto market. This process does not differ much from the traditional introduction of a product, and it is important to remember here that the main focus should not be on the period of the campaign itself but on the 3 to 6 months of the preparation period. You need to research your target audience, formulate your value proposition, carefully review and analyse the statistics. In this regard, charity crowdfunding is no different from the commercial product crowdfunding, except that it will be even more difficult to organize".

Anastasiya Kostugova, digital director for development of “Ulej” crowdfunding platform


Anastasiya emphasized that from the very beginning it is important to pick the right platform, depending on the idea for the project: whether it is charity, bringing a product to the market, or introducing a literary or a designer proposal. “The most important week of the campaign is the last one, where you can raise up to 50% of the amount claimed. However, throughout the campaign it is important to maintain a certain level of interest. As a rule, there is a dip in the middle of the crowdfunding campaign period, and you need to get through it without giving up”. The digital director of noted an important point in the crowdfunding campaign: people who give money are less motivated that the people who need to get the money.

“If you go blind into crowdfunding, you are destined to fail. Unlike foreign platforms, a big problem in Belarus is that people are not ready for the platform to simply be an intermediary. Those who come to ulej, for example, might have an idea but they do not know how it all works. That is why the manager has to understand that organizing a campaign is a serious matter and you have to prepare everything in advance, and plan everything clearly almost for every day".

Anastasiya noted that the National Bank is preparing to introduce the notion of “crowdfunding” and norms regulating it to the country’s legislation.

Tips from Ulej’s Anastasiya on what NOT to do during a crowdfunding campaign:
    • Do not compare yourself to other projects: think less about why other projects are successful and more – why your project is not.
    • Do not forget about the timing of your campaign: it should not bee too long or too short.
    • Do not forget about budgeting issues: you cannot make money during crowdfunding, profits start after the campaign ends. four in one

Ivan Viadzenin, creative director of the «Talaka» platform, continued the presentation of Belarusian crowdfunding platforms. Back in 2012, he had an idea for a project: to set up a platform where Belarusians could pull together and solve the tasks before them. “Today, "«Talaka» is a tool, a medium, a community and an accelerator. The tool can yield results when it is used by someone who knows how to take action. So, if you just post your project on and then just sit and wait for something to happen without your input, it will not bring you any results”. Like Anastasiya, Ivan emphasized that a campaign requires serious preparation, because only then you will be able to raise money for your chosen goals and convince people that this is a worthwhile project.

Ivan Viadzenin, creative director of the «Talaka» platform


“No campaign will be successful if it doesn’t reach the audience. That is why Talaka» originally also developed as a media platform. The team of also began two other projects that later became independent: magazine “Imena" (“Names”) and When the third-party media moved away, the team understood that they needed to become a “new talaka media". In the end of his presentation, Ivan described a practical case of how to launch a company. You need to pay special attention to these three important stages: the idea of a project that is realized into a system of bonuses, as well as a mandatory media plan. “Without reaching a wide audience, you cannot attract people who will become sponsors and which have to fall for the idea”.

MaeSens: charity meetings auction

Viktoria Kazakova, visibility specialist of "MaeSens", presented another Belarusian crowdfunding platform. The platform is based on a unique mechanism: it allows participant to auction off meetings, so we mainly have charity or socially significant projects. If people cannot support the project with a direct transfer of funds, they can set up a meeting, auction it off and pay the auction bid, transferring the money to fund the project. “We have a number of regular active users who always get large bids. Quite often, you can find meetings with provocative headlines but quite innocuous context, people do this to grab the attention of the audience”.

Viktoria Kazakova, visibility specialist of the "MaeSens" project


In the final part of the seminar, Raman Herasimau (co-founder of the "Zhart" project) and Hanna Hrydziushka (co-author and co-founder of the "Heta Belarus, Dzietka!" and "HiFive Belarus!" projects) presented concrete successful examples of crowdfunding on Belarusian and foreign platforms.

Zhart. It's all going to be fauna

Raman Herasimau, co-founder of the "Zhart" project, raised 44,347 roubles (denominated) to produce T-shirts with unique Belarusian prints. Raman admitted to the participants that he had more enthusiasm when the project was still going. “Now that we have gone through all the stages of production, our enthusiasm has gone down a bit. What’s good about this project is that we have raised 44,347 roubles and everyone likes our product".

Raman Herasimau, co-founder of the "Zhart" project


Raman underscored the importance of properly doing preparatory work for your project. No one reads the text, and this thought was echoed by Anastasiya Kostugova, digital director of the "Ulej" platform. Raman stressed that you need to “write” as much as you can with pictures, only then people will pay attention to the information and read it.

You also have to promote your project. For “It is going to be fauna”, the campaign by Zhart, prepaid posts on the social media websites, like vk and Facebook, turned out to be the most effective tool. “It is really important and the most effective way of promotion, even if you do not have a big budget. A banner costs a lot more today, but it does not work. Coverage of the audience is really important – it is the first thing you have to pay attention to. During the time of the project, I gave 9 interviews on different portals and even on one TV show, and it gave no effect, even though it took a lot of time and effort. For example, the article on received 33,000 views, while social networks had an audience of 500,000 in the same time. In the end, Raman stressed that any product needs to be produced with love and great care: then everything will turn out great.

Hanna Hrydziushka, co-author and co-founder of the"Heta Belarus, Dzietka!" project


Hanna Hrydziushka spoke about crowdfunding campaigns for "Heta Belarus, Dzietka!" ("This is Belarus, Baby!") and "Minsk in Socks" projects. You can read more about their crowdfunding experience on our website:  Biz4all. English-Language Tours of Minsk by the "Heta Belarus, Dzietka!" Team: Positive Image of Belarus.

Text by: Valeriya Nikalaichyk

Photo by: Vitaly Brazousky

ODB Brussels