Forest Hill Retreat – What exactly is Crowdfunding & how does it work?

“I must say that your plan, especially the financial aspects as outlined, carry the most integrity of anything I’ve seen so far with regard to intentional communities.” — Jessica Bryan, Ashland OR, USA

In former articles we have often talked about the possibility to become a crowdfunder. Today I want to bring more light into the topic “Crowdfunding”, what it is and how it works. 

“Crowdfunding”, as defined by the UKCFA, “is a way of raising finance by asking a large number of people each for a small amount of money. Traditionally, financing a business, project or venture involved asking a few people for large sums of money. Crowdfunding switches this idea around, using the internet to talk to thousands – if not millions – of potential funders.” 

The idea of crowdfunding comes from the USA really by coincidence and unintentional. The rockband Marillion didn’t have enough money for their concert tour after releasing their album. So a few of their american fans, without further ado used the internet and raised $60,000 so that the band could start their concert tour.  (Personal side note: this is one of many examples why I love Americans and Canadians. They dont falter but pull out all the stops in order to help where help is needed. Simply wonderful!). This is exactly the kind of people and the mindset we need to build the Forest Hill Retreat together

When I have learned about crowdfunding some years ago – the way it’s being used in the USA -, it ss mainly used by artists, authors, developers,  home-business founders and people with a great idea who don’t have enough capital to produce their piece of art or product. So they turn directly to their future target group and present them their idea. Those who were interested in the product, pre-purchase the book, the piece of art, the CD, the product, or service so that the person with the idea can start producing. Once the product is out, the crowdfunders receive the product they already had paid for and the artist or new entrepreneur has enough money to continue with his project. This is a very intriguing way of creating a classic win-win situation that simply works without the complicated burocracy of banks. 

Another form of crowdfunding is through donations. People invest simply because they believe in the cause without expecting a return on their investment.  Instead of money, rewards can be offered, for instance a ticket to a concert, an acknowledgement on an album cover, regular news updates, a small gifts, etc.  Donors have rather a social motivation for putting their money in because it makes them feel good about helping the project. 

Yet another form is debt crowdfunding.  Investors receive their money back plus interest. This form is also called Peer-to-Peer lending and is a great way to bypass traditional banks. The returns are financial but the investors also have the possibility to contribute their money to a good cause or an idea they believe in. 

Our form of crowdfunding is addressing our future inhabitants who naturally have the biggest interest in the Forest Hill Retreat. Potential investors can pay their rent for 10 years ahead. This will give us enough capital for the constructions of the infrastructure. We need roads, a sewer system, wells, and our own source of power so that we can protect those sensible to electromagnetic pollution. And the latter is the most expensive part of the whole infrastructure.  Of course we will also need a telephone land line in order to keep the cell phone antennas and hot spots away from Forest Hill. Plus we have to provide every single lot with these infrastructures. In return we are giving our crowdfunders a 10% return on their investment by letting them live rent free 12 months. 

As idealistic crowdfunding may sound, the exchange of money and equivalent value is handled in a professional way with a contract, often with lawyers involved. 

Unfortunately, in Switzerland crowdfunding is not used in its original sense and meaning, but as a form of optimization of profits for private investors who have no clue about professional investing. Here the investors expect to receive interests which can sometimes be quite high. If your interest offer is too low, nobody will invest in your project. For my taste this is too cold-hearted and I miss the personal dedication and delight behind such a giving action. Going to a bank and asking for a credit would be as impersonal as this form of crowdfunding. It’s all about money, money,  money without the motivation of supporting a great cause. 

That’s why I was so pleased about an email I received this morning from one of our American subscribers where she wrote: “I must say that your plan, especially the financial aspects as outlined, carry the most integrity of anything I’ve seen so far with regard to intentional communities.”  This feedback makes me especially happy because such projects are usually much less expensive in the USA than in Europe. This is proof to me that we have a very competitive pricing not only for North America but especially for Europe.  And in our case we have to take into consideration that we are not only offering a piece of land like in trailer parks, but a healthy place where even senstive people can live a good and healthy life.

I don’t know how about you, but I personally believe that our project is very much worth an investment. 

It’s that kind of statements that we are receiving almost daily that let us continue with our project. Maybe it’s that integrity people can sense why we hardly lose any subscribers. Since we have built our website and people can register for our free brochure, we have only lost two German and two English speaking subscribers. And all of them unsubscribed because they realized that our project is not for them. With regards of websites and online newsletters this is unprecedented, and I want to take the opportunity to thank all our readers from the bottom of my heart for your loyalty. 

Coming back to the topic Crowdfunding, I also want to briefly mention an important point one of our subscribers recently told me about. Actually I knew this for a long time, but I never thought about it regarding the Forest Hill project. Once you have a certain age it gets very difficult to receive a Canadian Permanent Resident Visa, unless…..unless you have some money you are willing to invest in a Canadian business project or venture. Whether or not your investment is enough depends very much on the province you’ll choose. For instance, if you want to invest in a project in Nova Scotia, where they have a high unemployment rate, your odds of receiving a visa as an investor with a minimum investment are much higher than in other provinces. This is just a small hint for those in a certain age who are considering Forest Hill as a possibility. 

For the infrastructure at Forest Hill one such investor would be enough to instantly start with the constructions. On the other hand, if we have to wait for 10-15 crowdfunders, it could easily become next year until we will be ready to start. Of course, more of our future inhabitants would have an advantage because they could live rent free for an entire year. However, at the end of the day this is a decision only our future tenants will have to make individually. You have to decide whether you want to act as a single investor or as a crowdfunder. And at the end of the day it doesn’t make a difference to us whether we will have one or several investors.  The main thing is really that we can start with the constructions ASAP so that all those excited and eager people who are waiting for the starting shoot can find a new home. 

There is one more idea for those interested in investing with a smaller budget. Of course, there is the crowdfunding as outlined in our brochure (you pay the rent for 10 years ahead and live rent free for 6 to 12 months). And there is another possibility. Our list of people who would like to get away from their radiated homes and come for a vaccation so that they can sleep better from time to time is growing rapidly. That means, we could use one or two extra cabins for short-term guests and future tenants who want to get the feel of Forest Hill. So this could be a great opportunity for one of our early tenants with a little bit of extra money to invest and create kind of a side-income through renting out their second (and/or third) cabin. If you are seriously interested in our project – be it as a single investor, a crowdfunder or a vacation cabin owner – please contact us ASAP. It would be really nice to start this project soon because there are so many serious prospects who can’t act as crowdfunders but want to rent a place at Forest Hill rather sooner than later. With these people alone we could almost fill the Retreat. So let’s put our hands together and build the Forest Hill Retreat together as partners for the sake of all our health. We are looking forward to.  

See you in Forest Hill!

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