Crowd-funding isn’t Philanthropy

Recently I was trying to explain why I had supported Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amandapalmer/amanda-palmer-the-new-record-art-book-and-tour) to a friend and found myself trying to explain my I supported any crowd-funding projects.

It seems to me that people who are not familiar with the idea behind crowd-funding, and it is still quite new, so that is a lot of people, think that when you crowd-fund you are giving people money and that is the whole transaction. The artist/designer/filmmaker/start-up just takes your money and runs.

Put there is another side to this transaction. Crowd-funding really is pre-ordering in most cases; it allows me to get in on the ground floor of a final product that I WANT. Now crowd-funding it might be the only way to make sure it gets made so I can have it. Or in the case of Amanda Palmer, it would get made anyway, but I’m going to get exclusive things that non crowd-funding fans will miss out on. Yes some people give money for no reward, but all projects give you the option to take part of it home when all is said and done.

I am a pop-culture tragic and an obsessive nerd. I collect everything I can that relates to the things I love, and I love lots of things. I found Kickstarter via Neil Gaiman, he tweeted about The Price, a film in production based on one of my favourite short stories, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2024077040/neil-gaimans-the-price. For $100US I’ll get a Blu-Ray, with exclusive backer only content and a limited edition print. That was 18 months ago, the film isn’t finished yet, but I am kept up to date on the progress and have received my print already, and it is amazing.

I’ve since funded 14 other Kickstarters, 3 Pozible projects and the new Ben Folds Five album on Pledge. I’m getting something in return for all of them! Things I would buy if I saw them in a shop. Some of the things I’ve backed are now available for everyone to buy, but I had them first. Yes I’m helping someone achieve what they set out to, but not really just because I can, yes I like that I’ve helped these people, and I’d love to fund more, but I’m doing it so that I can get what they have to offer me.

Amanda Palmer has been criticised as someone that is too big to use crowd-funding and various other reasons, but all she did is offer her fans a direct way to buy her art, we just gave her the money a few months early. She is already allowing us access to songs from the album. I wonder, if she had just set up a pre-order page on her online store, would people have been offended like they seem to be by her audacity to ask her fans for support? Is her Kickstarter so offensive because it was so successful? In my opinion people like Amanda Palmer using Kickstarter is only going to be good for the platform in the long run. It has generated so much buzz and introduced so many people to the idea of crowd-funding. Hopefully this will mean more supporters and even more projects.

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