Kickstarter: An Innovative Approach to Funding Via the Web

kickstarter-logo1Maybe you’re looking for some money. I don’t blame you. In fact, so am I. The problem isn’t so much coming up with great ideas as it is finding someone keen enough to know a real winner when they see one and throw some financial support behind you. A new web site aims to help solve your funding problem, using a combined crowd-sourcing/micropayments model.

Kickstarter might be the answer to your prayers if you’re running a not-for-profit or if you’re looking to self-fund an arts project. Just browsing through the active funding efforts shows just how many different types of projects people are using the new service for to try to raise some cash. A summary glance found New York Times crossword creator Eric Berlin (not be confused with WWD writer Eric Berlin) funding a crossword “suite,” essentially a multi-part linked crossword puzzle, which would then be made available to all who contributed towards his funding goal. Another ongoing project has New Yorkers working together to create a crowd-funded and crowd-sourced book, with each donation of $30 or more earning the giver a page in the book.

picture-2Speaking from the perspective of someone who’s written grant proposals before, Kickstarter comes as a very welcome alternative for funding low-budget projects. I say low-budget because I think that the model wouldn’t really work with larger sums, unless there was also a significant marketing effort behind the attempt. It could also be very useful for funding projects — like Berlin’s crossword suite — that are only produced if enough people buy it beforehand, through “pledges,” which are actually more like conditional pre-orders.

Signing up for Kickstarter is easy; you can even use Facebook Connect to further simplify the process if you like. The best part is that Kickstarter doesn’t skim any money off of incoming pledges, so you receive 100 percent of the funds raised, minus credit card processing fees from Amazon. Even those are waived until July 15, as a special promotion to celebrate the venture’s launch.

There is a catch, which is that projects have to reach their target within the time frame allotted in order to receive any funding at all. Which means, if you have a funding goal of $1,500, and you set a deadline of four weeks within which to reach that milestone, you either reach it, and get the total amount pledged, or you don’t, and no one pays anything. I actually like that, because it provides some sort of accountability in that people have to work out a reasonable budget, and it means that the project doesn’t have to go ahead underfunded if it doesn’t reach that budget.

If you’re looking for a source for that little bit of extra cash you need to get your project up and running, Kickstarter might be the answer. Check it out, and be sure to let us know how it goes if you do end up using it.

Have you found any innovative sources of funding? Share your tips in the commments.