Finding Crowd Funding

by Rory Donahoe October 13, 2011
Tech

If you’re anything like me then you’ve got at least a couple projects stewing in your brain, but not enough scratch to get one of them off the ground. Well, once again the internet has come to the rescue, and there’s an app for that. Named “crowd funding” this format is publicly asking for charitable contributions for your campaign, small business, or other project; often with a threshold pledge system that rewards financiers at different tiers of money donated.

Some of the most common sites for finding crowd funding are indiegogo.com, kickstarter.com, and pledgemusic.com. Each site has their own unique take on how these micro-transactions take place, where the focus is for their projects, and whether or not money is returned to the investors if the goal isn’t reached. The term investor should probably come with an asterisk, because although you’re spending money for a business venture, you don’t own any piece of the finished project, so your investment should be treated as a charitable contribution to help someone accomplish their goal.

Some top funded projects, and what they did right:

Womanthology; Massive All Female Comic Anthology! - This project was able to more than quadruple its goal. When you have people pledging money for your project the best way to capture them is with radical swag, and few could beat the awesome pledge rewards Womanthology was dishing out. Custom art, signed comics, and free books from stars within the comic book industry were able to not only attract the right kind of audience to find funding, it did it in a way that was affordable to the financiers. We’re chalking the success of this one up to knowing your audience.

Molly Crabapple's Week in Hell – Sometimes people just want to be a part of something, and Molly Crabapple was happy to oblige. This project hit its goal almost six times over. Her project was a weeklong draw-a-thon with the stipulation that she would lock herself in a room and couldn’t leave until the paper draped down every wall was completely filled with her illustrations. Surprisingly, her larger pledge rewards were ignored, and a vast majority of pledgers invested in her $20 reward, which was a tiny piece of the original art. Her biggest appeal was that for a single dollar donation people were invited to watch her do it live on her own video stream, and over a hundred people did just that, proving that allowing people in on the process and giving them a piece of the results is what really drives investments.

Crania Anatomica Filigre: Me to You – Rather than look at this project as someone out to start a business building sculptures using 3D printers, we can see that it’s run as more of an online store which he calls a “prerelease” to build hype for his very cool, and very affordable skullptures. Bringing in 110 times what he needed to call his project a success, he was able to sell his sculptures cheaply for a $50 dollar donation, which brought in 445 financers. This experiment proves that the crowd funding program can not only help you achieve a goal, but sell and advertise your products at profit.

A few tips to make your project a success:

      1. Pledge rewards need to speak directly to your audience. Find out what kind of people would be interested in your project, and find a reward for your financers that will get them interested in your project. In the case of some of the more charitable projects, people may donate their time or energy into high end financiers.

2. Make your investors feel involved. Giving them credit on your finished product, or giving them a piece of your project are great ways to make people feel like they’re a part of what you’re doing. Keep your updates frequent and honest so people feel they’ve made a good decision and produce positive buzz for your project.

3. Set your goal low, but accomplishable. Once you reach your goal you’ll be expected to follow through, make sure you’ve asked for enough to complete it. Successful pledges usually snowball, starting slow then gaining steam once the goal may be reached, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t hit the ground running.

4. Sell your idea. All of these have something in common: art, photography, and video. Make a commercial for your idea, put some time and effort into it, and create a personal connection so they trust you with their support.

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