Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Technology Lesson: Kickstarter

Kickstarter is a website where people can submit a fundraising proposal and collect money, via the Internet, to fund their projects. (This is called "crowdfunding.") The subject and goals of these projects vary. One might require only a small sum, whereas another may attempt to fund a film.

I'm feeling mildly lazy. I'll let Kickstarter explain itself:
Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.
A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.
All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.
Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree... Welcome to Kickstarter!
That's a quick crash course, no?

Here's artist Amanda Palmer on her experience. Palmer, and her husband Neil Gaiman used Kickstarter to fund a tour across the West Coast:
One thing that I've been noticing about Kickstarter, and that was confirmed when I went in and had a meeting with the folks who work there, was that many people WANT TO SUPPORT and will simply SUPPORT AT THEIR DESIRED LEVEL, regardless of what's being offered. Often people will decline to even give their T-shirt size when Kickstarter sends the follow-up email — they didnt' want the shirt, they simply wanted to donate $100 and that level came with a shirt... and they already own 200 black T-shirts, they don't need another one. This is fascinating.

Here is what a page might look like. I've used an expired project by the Graduate. The band wants to release a DVD of its farewell shows.

I forgot to donate. Lest this happen to you, there's a button on the right (where that star is) that will remind you to donate.

You can see the left column features a video. (This is common.) The video explains why this project needs donations, what it helps to accomplish, and what you can receive in exchange for your donation. The right column features a countdown (zero, since the project has ended), the number of backers needed for completion, and the fundraising goal.

Donors are often given a tiered level of donating. From the Graduate's page, again:

In this example, the tiers continue up to $100.

Some other projects, as examples, are Coffee Joulies, stainless steel beans that regulate coffee temperature, Matt Porterfield's film I Used To Be Darker, and Moveable Type, a cross-country print lab.

Additional Resources:
Kickstarter's Twitter
Kickstarter: Does It Even Matter What You Sell? Insight Community
Coffee Joulies
Moveable Type
Arts-donation website helps Matt Porterfield turn his new film into a cliffhanger, The Baltimore Sun

This is not an advertisement for Kickstarter. I ran out of ideas, and Movable Type, which was funded by a campaign, gave me the idea.

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