How to win at crowdfunding

Submitted by Josh Grossman on Thu Oct 24 3:17pm

Every once in a while, when inspiration hasn't struck for a blog entry, I'll check various resources to see if anything catches my eye. Maybe a controversial topic to which my voice undoubtedly needs to be added; perhaps a musician who needs extra props; perhaps a subject matter I never would have though of myself and which I proceed to "borrow". Today is just such a day.

I went to my embarrassingly large file of unread blog entries from NPR's "A Blog Supreme" and found an entry called "The Odd Jobs of Dave King." It's a fun interview with Dave King, perhaps best known for his drumming with The Bad Plus. One of the questions in the interview has to do with a Kickstarter campaign he ran in order to raise funds for the vinyl release of the Dave King Trucking Company's Good Old Light. The campaign was a success - he surpassed his goal by almost $1000 in the allotted time period.

Crowdfunding is a big deal these days. Heck, even I'm doing it. As traditional sources of funding change or disappear, individuals and organizations have sought out new ways to generate revenue, and many have turned to crowdfunding. At its core, crowdfunding relies on lots of people to give smaller amounts of money in order to achieve a financial goal. It still requires an enormous amount of work - the project must be clearly explained, it must engage with people right away, and it must be relentlessly promoted - but it's an interesting way of connecting with a variety of people in a more and more familiar media (i.e. the interwebs). There are lots of good examples of crowdfunding; and some good examples of bad crowdfunding.

One piece of advice I've held onto - through various fundraising seminars and reading material - is that the pitch needs to be passionate. So whether it's snail mail, email, crowdsourcing or in-person, it's vital to speak passionately about the project. Without passion, what is the hook? Why would someone sign on? There are a few other hard and fast rules, but how each person chooses to put those rules into action varies from project to project - that's what makes fundraising of any sort kind of fun, kind of creative, and completely terrifying.

I think I can safely say two things about Dave King. First, he is passionate about what he does. Having seen him play several times and having chatted with him on occasion, his passion is undeniable. Second, he's not too concerned about conventional approaches to, well, as far as I can tell, almost anything.

Which is what makes his video so awesome.

Dave King will prune his Japanese Maple for $1 million? Sign me up.

Securing funding for our artistic projects is no laughing matter, but it's great to see a musician with a sense of humour about the process. He's dead serious about his goals - his passion is clear, and he was going to make it happen one way or the other - but rather than lingering on how terrible it would be if the money wasn't raised, he's chosen to have some fun. And, clearly, his approach connected with potential funders.

Josh