They say sales is a numbers game: Theres's always a core group out there willing to buy whatever you're selling. You just have to talk to enough people to find them.
And while raising money for a few of my own projects over the years, I have often dreamt of casting a wide enough net to grab just a few bucks from each of them. A few dollars each from several thousand people is better than you'll get panhandling on the Chicago streets.
So the moment I heard about Kickstarter, I started kicking myself for not thinking of it myself and promptly dropped a couple hundred bucks on various projects (so far). I've even put it to good use for me. And humanity, of course. I always try to toss humanity a bone now and then.
Here's how it works:
Say you want to make a movie or start your own taco cart. You set a fundraising goal & deadline and post a video pitch of your idea to let the world know why your tacos would be better than anybody else's. Perhaps you're infusing the shells with bacon fat. You also establish a series of tiered rewards (based on how much people contribute) to encourage folks to pitch in higher dollar amounts.
Then you promote the heck out of your project, emailing it to your friends, posting it to Facebook, and holding your neighbor's cat ransom. They can pledge any dollar amount to support your project and, if the project meets its fundraising goal by the deadline, everyone's card is charged and the money is handed over to you.
If you come up short then nobody's card is charged and you retreat back to your chemical dependencies.
Or you can peruse the site for interesting projects that you'd like to support. There's no guarantee it will actually deliver and no real recourse if they don't. So it's exactly like investing, with all the risk, thrill and potential reward. But at least you know that, if they don't reach their goal at all by the allotted deadline, you're not out any cash.
You do have to be creating something tangible. You can't use it to raise money to pay down your mortgage or fund a vacation to Uruguay. That's what white-collar crime is for. And you can't use it to raise money for a cause, like cancer research or your uncle's foreskin restoration surgery. But you CAN use it to kick off production of that foreskin restoration device you patented, the Double Dangler.
But ne'er fear, for if it a cause ye be lookin' to fund, there are a slew of crowd-funding sites for that too, such as Human Tribe Project, FundRazr, GoFundMe, and GiveForward.
I've personally supported 12 projects so far with no signs of stopping. None of them are complete yet, but they're all on-track and I'm pleased to keep up with the updates. I won't post a handy link to my public profile page here - if you wish to uncover yet more proof of my nerdiness, you''ll have to do your own digging. But even if you're only pitching in a few dollars, you'll still get special backer-only updates from the project manager and have a real feeling of doing something worthwhile.
I also used it to successfully fund my latest film project, Movie On A Stick, which we'll be premiering in Des Moines sometime in May. We even exceeded our own modest goal, which means more drug money for me.
I think we're on the cusp of something big here because we've finally discovered the Internet's killer app: Getting people to give money to each other. Sure beats forking it over to The Man, because we all know The Man has no taste.
Here are some of the cooler projects that likely wouldn't be happening otherwise:
Oculus Rift - John Carmack, the legendary programmer who brought us Doom, threw his weight behind this effort to fast forward virtual reality headgear to the technical and affordable level we all thought they would be at by now.
Magnet Comic - Brainchild of a high school art teacher, this simple but clever idea raised ten times his original goal.
Impossible Instant Lab - In case you thought Instagram filters hadn't regressed digital photography enough, you will soon be able to convert your iPhone photos into real life polaroid-style instant prints.
Veronica Mars Movie Project - Wanna see a Veronica Mars movie in the theaters? Yeah, me neither. But about least 60,000 people apparently do, which is causing Warner Brothers to sit up and take notice.
Forklift Danceworks - A grand civic spectacle featuring Austin's public power workers—50+ linemen, bucket trucks, 20+ utility poles, and a live orchestra.
Movie On A Stick - Premiering in May at the Fleur Cinema Cafe in Des Moines, IA, because this is my blog and this film ain't gonna promote itself.