Sometimes a good idea just needs an explosive kick to get it started.
Thousands of creative types are turning to an innovative cyber fundraising method to get their projects off the ground. Online sites such as Kickstarter.com, Razoo.com, Crowdrise.com and PayItSquare.com are turning penniless dreams into funded realities. The sites give individuals and groups the opportunity to pitch their ideas to friends, family, colleagues as well as a broad audience of strangers, often resulting in financial reward.
Some of the projects are artistic—books, music videos, plays—while others are charitable causes, entrepreneurial efforts and some fall into a broad spectrum of other categories.
The sites have an array of different rules and approaches. Kickstarter.com, for example, only accepts “creative” projects and not charity or causes. It’s also an “all-or-nothing” funding endeavor, meaning projects must meet their funding goal by the deadline to collect the money pledged. If projects fall even a dollar short of their goal, the money is not charged to the backers’ credit cards. Kickstarter charges a 5 percent fee.
Kickstarter, which bills itself as the world’s largest fundraising platform for creative projects, has funded 24,000 projects ($250 million raised from 2 million backers) since it was launched in 2009, according to its website.
Maria Moore Riggs of Decatur had a positive experience with Kickstarter in helping to launch a new business.
She detailed her need for seed money for her Revolution Doughnut business on the project page site she created through Kickstarter.com. Through video, photos and narratives on the Kickstarter site, she secured 333 backers who contributed $12,271, exceeding her $10,000 goal—all raised in 30 days last spring.
Revolution Doughnut and Coffee shop opened at 908 W. College Ave. in Decatur on June 1, National Doughnut Day.
Riggs explained that she learned of Kickstarter from friends at a farmers’ market where she sold her treats. Several of those friends had success with the online fundraising site.
“It’s a good way to build a community,” said Riggs. It’s outstanding. It’s been beyond our expectation and quite delightful.”
Riggs said in addition to the money raised, the exposure on Kickstarter has helped her build a customer base.
“Basically we were able to promote our concept and get buy-in from the community,” said Riggs, adding that some days they have lines of people waiting outside their doors for peach sliders, lime/basil, pimento cheese and bacon/caramel doughnuts.
She said she studied other online fundraising projects to learn the secrets to their success.
The rewards she offered—ranging from six doughnuts and a drink for those who pledged $10 to a Doughnut Dipping Party for up to 11 children for those contributing $250 or more—were one of the factors that fueled their success, she said.
However, such great results are not automatic through these online fundraising sites.
Malaja Owens has been struggling to find supporters for her children’s book My Brand New Shoes.
The 37-year-old Stone Mountain mother of two has received only seven pledges totaling $172 since she launched it on Kickstarter on June 22. Her goal is $4,000, and her deadline of Aug. 21 is fast approaching.
Owens said he learned of Kickstarter from a friend.
She said although she’s received quite a few “likes” on Facebook, it hasn’t translated into pledge. Owens admits she hasn’t promoted the project as much as she should.
Owens said one way or another she will self-publish her book about a girl learning “the joy of wanting for her ‘sister’ what she wants for herself.” She said an infusion of dollars will help pay an illustrator as well as cover publishing and marketing costs.
However other locals are finding financial reward through this fundraising avenue.
Earlier this year Kirsten Black used
Razoo.com to raise $1,965 for Habitat for Humanity-DeKalb.
Razoo focuses on “grassroots support of charitable causes” with 97.1 percent of individuals’ and groups’ money raised forward to the charity and 2.9 percent going to Razoo’s for expenses such as credit card fees.
On its website, Razoo boasts it has raised $99 million for a variety of non-profit projects.
Atlanta choreographer Blake Beckham successfully funded her dance project “Threshold” using Kickstarter. She secured $10,301 through the pledges of 159 supporters in less than two weeks in June. Her project is a dance/architectural installation with the dance performance taking place in a life-size, two-story house designed by Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects.
Thanks to the funding and all the other elements of the project coming together, “Threshold” premieres Aug. 16 at the Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.