Have a creative project you'd like to see come to fruition but lack the funds to make it work? Venture capital for arts-related projects is often hard to find, but now there's a new avenue based on an old concept: crowdfunding.The model is a simple one: Promote your idea. Ask others to put up cash. Offer rewards. Receive funding. Bring your project to life.
One of the more popular crowdfunding sites is Kickstarter.com . The website has generated a tremendous amount of media buzz lately, partially due to one inventor raising $941,718 (far in excess of his $15,000 goal) to create a wristband that converts an iPod Nano into a multi-touch watch.
There are benefits to both sides. Artists maintain creative and financial control, and never have to repay the contributions. Contributors have the satisfaction of funding a dream, and, often, receive priceless incentives - or at least a free copy of the product.
Kickstarter features a wide variety of creative projects - from book publishing, music production, game creation, even a 10-week trip for a photojournalist to document non-profits in five countries.
Another Kickstarter success involved a film based on Donald Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz. When the movie was halted due to a lack of funds, Miller and director Steve Taylor turned to Kickstarter to raise the $125,000 shortfall. The project garnered $345,992.
Not every project meets its goals. Kickstarter holds an all-or-nothing funding element. Pledges are recorded, but not charged, until the project reaches its creator-set goal. If the goal is not met, no money changes hands.
Based on past track records, here are a few tips that seem to have influenced successful Kickstarter projects.
A strong campaign. Kickstarter allows videos and provides each project with its own landing page. Successful projects seem to use these tools well.
Actively use existing social networks. Funding for a film based on "The Price," a short story by Neil Gaiman, relied on Gaiman's existing following and ultimately raised 107% of its original $160,000 goal.
Do not overestimate or underestimate your financial needs. Contributors need to feel secure that the money requested is the amount required.
Create one-of-a-kind incentives.Blue Like Jazz offered a part as an extra for a contribution of $1,000 and received 25 takers. Four people opted for a $5,000 contribution to The Price and earned seats with director Christopher Salmon and author Gaiman at a special theatrical screening.