It always takes money to work as an artist or run a nonprofit, and creative financing is a de rigueur skill in a state like Montana where personal incomes ranks 38th in the nation. But there’s an option for pulling together project or organizational funding that’s worth considering: its called crowdfunding, and it has been all the rage for a few years now on the web.
What is crowdfunding? It’s gathering funds to do a project by posting an appeal on a website and having individuals around the world make small contributions that add up to a fundraising goal.
Crowdfunding of the low tech sort has been around for years; think of community organizations raising money going door to door or having bake sales. But crowdfunding on the web has exploded in popularity with the connectivity of the Internet. Crowdfunding grew out of the idea that a crowd of people can be an asset to a project, like Wikipedia, the crowd-sourced online encyclopedia. And all crowd-sourcing on the web is greatly helped with social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Searching for “crowdfunding” yields a lot of sites, but Kickstarter.com is one of the most popular crowdfunding sites. Go to kickstarter.com and search for “montana” to see what is happening in the state. In the first part of November, the Great Falls Tribune ran the story “From Cooking to Ranching: Crowdfunding Website Brings a Wide Variety of Montana Projects to Market.” Read it at http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20131110/BUSINESS/311100018/From-cooking-ranching-Crowd-funding-website-brings-wide-variety-Montana-projects-market and see how those projects evolved and were marketed to the crowd.
Do you want to try crowdfunding on Kickstarter? First, decide if crowdfunding right for you. You need to be reasonably proficient in using the web to start a crowdfunding campaign. You need to be able to promote yourself over social networking and set up a website to direct your potential funders to see.
If you decide to jump in to crowdfunding, read a bunch of Kickstarter projects – both successful and not – and see how people are organized and how they promoted (or didn’t promote) themselves. Decide if what you want to do is of statewide interest or national, and promote your project that way. You’re reaching out to people you know and who know you, but you’re also reaching out to strangers, too.
Approach your Kickstarter pitch like you would a business plan or a grant application. Are you being realistic? Your Kickstarter campaign and the project itself should be a long term thing; are you into it for the long haul? What happens if your project doesn’t get approved by Kickstarter? Or, it gets approved and runs for 30 days, but doesn’t complete the funding minimum and is cancelled?
But keep in mind the idea is that anyone out there could help kickstart what you want to do, and crowdfunding could work out for you.