Crowdfunding: The use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to fund a project or business.
Have you ever heard of Indiegogo? How about Kickstarter? These are two popular examples of crowdfunding websites, and if you haven’t checked them out, you should. You’ll find all kinds of creative projects, posted by dream-pursuing individuals looking to employ an emerging form of fundraising that’s accessible to supporters at almost any level of net worth. Even if you go just for the entertainment value, or for inspiration, you’ll walk away with a little something you didn’t have when you first typed the URL into your toolbar.
My first experience with crowdfunding took place about two years ago. My friend Jøsh publishes a zine (a “perzine” for those up on their ‘90’s indie culture lingo, and an “independently published magazine of a personal nature” for those who aren’t) called Negative Capability (link probably not safe for work…but also extremely funny). He had taken a break from his late-‘90s, early-‘00s writing frenzy, had a few kids, and was looking to get a new issue out to the masses. The material was there, but production funds were required.
Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites allow a project to be posted for a specified amount of time, with a specific monetary goal, and a list of perks that are given to funders depending on the amounts of their contributions. At the end of the campaign period – if the project’s monetary goal is reached or surpassed (with Kickstarter, but not necessarily Indiegogo, more on that later) — the perks are sent to the funders, and the creator goes ahead and uses the funds to make his dream a reality. In Jøsh’s case, I contributed $100; because the campaign’s goal was met and then ultimately surpassed, I was given a bunch of Negative Capability’s back issues, the brand new issue, some original films used to make the offset printing plates, and I got a shout out on negcap.com! (again, probably NSFW) — but the best feeling came from being part of a cool project that I believed in.
What does this have to do with rubbing oil on strangers?
I’m currently running a campaign on Indiegogo to raise funds for my new skin care studio-meets-Victorian parlor-meets-curiosity shop business in Downtown Las Vegas. As of today, my campaign is 16% funded, with 27 days left to go. I won’t bore you with the rest of the deets that you can easily access by clicking here, but I will tell you that my heart has melted several times over with the outpouring of support I’ve received from friends (both online and in real life), family, clients, and even a few strangers and anonymous folks! It’s interesting how a $5 contribution can make me feel like $5,000,000. I appreciate every morsel of support, including all of the sharing on social media sites, and the opportunities for media exposure that have come my way over the past few weeks. But that’s enough about me and the risk I’m running of sounding like a self-promoting narcissist.
Are you thinking about starting a new business? Indiegogo allows you to seek small business funding on their site (Kickstarter is more for creative projects. Read the terms and conditions on any crowdfunding site you’re researching…there are legal considerations to be aware of). Indiegogo also allows you to set up your campaign so that you’ll receive funds raised even if you don’t make it to your goal amount. Maybe your business is already up and running. Do you need some new equipment? Or do you want to travel to Thailand to learn Thai massage? These dreams can also be realized through a crowdfunding campaign.
Crowdfunding can also serve as a useful marketing tool. If you promote your campaign, people will notice. They’ll ask questions. If they like what you’re doing, they’ll want to be a part of it, will want to help you, and will spread the word. It’s exciting, and thanks to your campaign’s mandatory deadline – whatever it is – there’s a sense of urgency about it. A rush. It’s like a game, and when you know in your heart you’re going to come out a winner, games can be a lot of fun.
(I’m planning on writing Part II next month, right after my campaign ends. What will I have to say? I have no idea!) 😉
Andrea Lipomi is a licensed massage therapist and esthetician who lives and works in Las Vegas, Nevada. She also peddles massage therapy ebooks and NCBTMB-approved continuing education courses at ConfidentMassage.com, will travel hundreds of miles for a fantastic spa experience, and craves dark chocolate and Depeche Mode’s upcoming tour dates on an almost daily basis.