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Posted at 10:54 AM ET, 07/07/2012

Crowdfunding and the kindness of strangers

Documentary film makers don’t make much money. so when my daughter told me she and her co-director were planning to self-distribute their latest feature-length work, I had my doubts. She told me they were planning to raise money through Kickstarter, a website for artists using social networking to finance projects. Their goal was to raise $60,000 in
Popular Washington DC-area Kickstarter project. (Screenshot - Kickstarter)
30 days. I thought success was a long shot.

Would enough fans really reach for their credit cards to help fund a 25-city screening schedule for the pair’s cinematic examination of the economic and societal decline in Detroit?

As a supportive parent, I dutifully joined Kickstarter.com, and pledged $100. And to my surprise, I wasn’t alone. 

I didn’t know much about the three-year-old funding platform, but that same week, I had clicked on a story about the singer Amanda Palmer ,whose Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 and produce a new album, plus bankroll a performance tour, received pledges of $1.2 million.

My favorite documentary directors launched their crowd-funding campaign right after Memorial Day.  Contacts, cousins, colleagues, and complete strangers contributed donations ranging in size from $1 to $5000.

By June 14, hundreds of “backers” had pledged enough to take their
In this video image taken from AP video, bus monitor Karen Klein speaks during an interview, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Greece, N.Y. A video of four seventh-grade boys mercilessly taunting the 68-year-old Klein that went viral has turned the victim into an international fundraising juggernaut and opened her tormentors to an onslaught of threats and abuse. From around the world, small donations for Klein poured into the crowd-funding site indiegogo.com. (AP)
film to audiences in dozens of industrial towns facing similar straights.

Not all the artists, musicians, designers and other enterprising talents hoping for strangers to invest in their ideas or initiatives make their goals, of course, but a surprising variety of art projects, comedy, dance, fashion, theater and photography projects have raised $250 million since the privately held platform was launched in April 2009. Kickstarter and Amazon.com, which processes pledges, each take a small percentage fee.

On another similar fundraising platform, Indiegogo.com, supporting creative, entrepreneurial and community causes, a sympathetic citizen philanthropist, Max Siderov asked participants to chip in to pay $5000 for a beleaguered bus monitor’s vacation.  

Siderov didn’t know the 68-year-old, Karen Klein, on whose behalf he sought offerings, but had seen a video of the middle school bus supervisor driven to tears after being bullied by students.  Siderov’s Indiegogo page has attracted over 31 thousand donors and has softened the blows and so far raised nearly $700,000 for Mrs. Klein. The deadline has almost 2 weeks to go.

In the vituperative political climate we are all witnessing in the current election silly season, it’s nice to know that generosity and compassion are still making some people's dreams come true.


Bonnie Goldstein is on Twitter @KickedByAnAngel.

By  |  10:54 AM ET, 07/07/2012

Tags:  kickstarter, Indiegogo, crowdfunding, detropia

 
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