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Get Creative! Give Your Project a Kick(start)

by Joy Loving, Station Products and Innovation
Picture this: You have been working on an artistic project for some time now (film, book, website, etc...). You have completed all the groundwork for your project; identified your key audience, started designing or writing out the framework and even presented it to your team. But one key element is missing that will help make your project a success...funding. What do you do?

Well, if you are like many creative station artists, designers and writers, you might consider creating a Kickstarter campaign. I first heard of it on YouTube, as several of my favorite web series’ are still available thanks to this fundraising innovation. What exactly is Kickstarter and how does it work?

"Kickstarter is the world's largest funding platform for creative projects. Every week, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields” (kickstarter.com).

Kickstarter, an online crowd-funding service, began in 2008. It operates similarly to traditional investing, by receiving funding from interested “investors,” known as backers. People interested in starting a campaign must apply with Kickstarter, adhering to provided guidelines.

Since this is geared towards creative projects only, Kickstarter is ahead of the curve with regard to exclusivity. Kickstarter prohibits campaigns for charitable causes. Contests, scholarships, and personal funding campaigns (i.e. education or unemployment) are also prohibited.

Creating a campaign with Kickstarter is free, and they also claim no copyright of projects promoted on the website. All qualifications for starting a campaign are provided here. Creators are responsible for setting a funding goal and campaign deadline. If a project is not completed by the chosen deadline, all pledges made will be cancelled. Campaigns that do not reach their monetary goals do not receive any pledged funding. This way, donors do not lose money.

Nearly half of all campaigns are not successful, which is why Kickstarter only charges successful campaigns a five percent fee for the use of the site. In addition to that five percent, Kickstarter uses Amazon to process all payments, which charges between three to five percent. These are set rates; if you surpass your fundraising goals, no additional fees are charged.

Using an online-fundraising campaign for small projects is incredibly popular today. In fact, a handful of artists have conducted successful Kickstarter campaigns aimed at getting programming on PBS, including:
  • Bring “What Can You Do” back on PBS, New York, NY: This program educates viewers on the endless possibilities of changes we can make in our world in as little as one minute. The campaign raised over $21,000 in donations.
  • The Biscuit Brothers Television Project, Austin, TX: This is a musical education show for children that was created by three individuals who film the series out of their homes and has won two Emmy awards. The Biscuit Brothers surpassed their intended goal by $3,000, gaining a little more than $13,000.
  • Bring “Stagestruck: Confessions from Summer Stock” to PBS. This campaign raised $16,225. “Stagestruck” is a film that documents the history of American summer stock which ran from 1950-1976.
Currently, John MacPherson, co-owner of Foster Harris House (FHH), a bed and breakfast in Washington, VA, located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, has a campaign for “In Season with John MacPherson,” hoping to be aired on PBS. John also works as a chef at the FHH, and goes on excursions to find unusual foods that are in season to serve at the bed and breakfast. “In Season” would follow John on his mission to find rare, but delicious foods in the Blue Ridge area, and then to prepare these natural foods for the audience. You can read more about John’s campaign and PBS’s interest in this project here.

Has your local station considered Kickstarter? We’d love to hear some of your campaign ideas or your opinions on online-fundraising platforms! Please leave your thoughts about Kickstarter in the comments area below.

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