By Jen Heller Meservey
Since the beginning of time, creative people have been born with a desperate need to express themselves. Whether they write, sing, paint, sculpt, dance, invent, film, or photograph, they will always need funds to back their creative projects and turn their ideas into reality. Two years ago, a new website emerged with a goal to make the “starving artist” a thing of the past by connecting creative people with an online community eager to provide the cash to bring their projects to life.
What is Kickstarter?
Kickstarter makes it easy for any creative person to raise the funds needed to complete a project, whether it’s a novel, movie, album, invention, or pretty much anything a creative mind can come with. A “Creator” builds a project, gives it a deadline and a funding goal, and “Backers” pledge money to help make the project happen.
So what’s in it for the Backers? Aside from seeing their favorite projects come to life through blogs, videos, and pictures, each backer receive a reward, like a free copy of a CD, a phone call from a writer, a tour of a movie set, or a comic book hero named after them. Kickstarter encourages Creators to use their imagination when it comes to rewards. Financial incentives are not allowed, nor are raffles, lotteries, sweepstakes, coupons, discounts, or gift certificates. Back a film project and your name may appear in the credits. Back an album and you could have a chance to jam with a member of the band.
Examples of Successful Projects
One recently popular project is “Greetings from the Back of My Van,” in which an artist traveling the country promises to send custom postcards to all of his Backers. The more a Backer pledges, the more artistic his postcards become. The project’s original funding goal was only $100, but it has since raised $1,928 in pledges. Another popular project is “Hickies,” a new way to lace your shoes without having to tie them. Backers of this project receive free Hickies in a variety of colors and sizes. With 3,370 Backers, the project raised over $159,167 in pledges, a little over six times its original goal of $25,000.
This is an example of a project's backer gifts. These are from the “Greetings from the Back of My Van” project.
Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” policy ensures that each Backer gets their money’s worth. If the project doesn’t generate enough interest to meet its funding goal, none of the Backers are charged. So Backers only have to make good on their pledges if the project earns enough funding to go all the way.
Fortunately for Creators, Kickstarter’s website states that the average project raises 130 percent of its funding goal. Success stories include singer/songwriter Amanda Palmer. Her “new record, art book, and tour” project started with a goal of $100,000 to fund the promotion of her new album, the publishing of a song-inspired book of visual art, and a year-long world tour with her band, the Grand Theft Orchestra. Backers were promised free copies of her album and book, and free tickets to her various shows. At the project’s end, Palmer’s backers had pledged over $1 million.
Requirements and Fees Associated with Starting a Project
It’s free to create a project on Kickstarter, and Creators are only charged a 5 percent fee if the project meets its funding goal by the deadline. Amazon Payments, the payment system used by Kickstarter, also charges a fee of 3-5 percent only if the project meets its goal. If the project doesn’t meet its goal, the Creator pays nothing.
Anyone who is at least 18 years old and a permanent resident of the United States can create a Kickstarter project. The only requirements are that the project has a set funding goal, a deadline, rewards for pledges, and definable expectations. Causes, charity projects, or general business expenses do not qualify, nor do what Kickstarter calls “fund my life” projects, where someone requests pledges to help him pay his tuition or go on vacation. Sorry, but you’ll have to forget about your “Buy Me a Mercedes” project.
The idea behind Kickstarter is simple: Creative people tell the world their ideas, and the world helps make them happen. Kickstarter is a great way for artists, writers, musicians and more to express their creative ideas, and for the world to discover some new art and inventions they would never have otherwise.
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