Simon Wood

SHELF LIFE: So What About This Crowd Funding Thing Then?

I’m after your opinions on crowd funding/sourcing.  If you’re not sure what that is, it where people donate money to someone’s project which could go towards a product, service or some other goal.  It’s become very popular with writers and filmmakers, especially in these changing times.  So consider crowd funding the equivalent of 21stcentury arts patronage.  And if there’s one person that should be patronized on a daily basis, it’s me (or so Julie tells me)!

Websites like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo have helped with the popularity of this alternative fundraising approach.  I know several writers and filmmakers who’ve raised money this way to fund their book or short film.  And this isn’t a small thing either.  The Veronica Mars movie got green lit after the makers raised $1M in 24hours when fans were told they needed money.  Other high profile crowd funders (or should that be fundees) include Spike Lee, Zach Braff and David Fincher to name a few.  So it’s big business.  Actually, it’s not a business technically.  Crowd funding isn’t investment funding.  So if you give to a project, you are giving, not investing.  These things are geared to give you something in return for your money.  Depending on how much you give, you might receive an acknowledgement or you may receive a product or product related swag.  But it’s made very explicit that you are NOT an investor.
And that’s where it gets a little sticky for me.  I have a dream project or a business venture I want to get off the ground, is it fair that I ask people to give me money to make it happen.  Isn’t it down to me to come up with the cash for my dream and not relying on the kindness of strangers?  Should I expect people to not only help make it happen but also buy the product later?  That’s double dipping, isn’t it?  And what if the project becomes really successful; it seems a little unfair that all those people who made it possible aren’t rewarded?  But that’s the thing people understand going in, they aren’t investors, but it doesn’t make me feel any less squeamish about the process.

I raised these misgivings at an entertainment and technology conference a couple of years ago and got some interesting responses.  First, what’s so wrong about it?  If people want to support you in your endeavor, then let them.  Second, people want that feel good factor of being partially responsible in getting this project off the ground.  Thirdly, people may have vested reason to see a project or product get realized because it’s a product they desire.  Finally, crowd funding helps generate awareness and an inbuilt fan base for your project.  These are interesting perspectives but I’m still a little uncomfortable with the idea of people giving me money with no obligation.

Now, I’m not here to diss crowd funding.  Like I say, I know numerous people who’ve successfully brought their project to realization this way and bloody good luck to them for it.  And if it’s something that works for you, go do it with my blessing.  I’m just not sure it’s something I can do myself.  But what I am after is your feeling on the topic:
·         How do you feel crowd funding—in favor or it/not in favor of it?  And am I silly (as one person put it) for not utilizing crowd funding?
·         Would you donate to someone’s cause or have you contributed to someone’s cause?  And if so, why?
Let rip, because I’m really interested in your feelings on this provocative topic.

2 Responses to “SHELF LIFE: So What About This Crowd Funding Thing Then?”

  1. ronisays

    I’m firmly in the “why not?” camp. Those who are anti crowdfunding can simply ignore any request and entertain themselves by jingling their spare change in their pockets, like the annoying prigs they so obviously must be. Not meaning you, of course, Simon.


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