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Crowd Funding

Sunset on Scafell: the highest point in England

A recent online phenomenon is crowd funding. The idea is simple: lots of individuals donate small amounts towards a project they find interesting. If you find enough people willing to donate £10 then even large projects can generate the capital they require to get them off the ground. It is low risk for the investor for the project must raise 100% of the money required or else it gets nothing.

What do the investors get out of this? Three things:

  1. The warm glow of philanthropy
  2. Seeing a project they find interesting actually happen
  3. Investors are offered a scaled series of incentives in return for their donation.

I had planned to crowd fund the printing of my last book, but ran out of time to do so in the end. It would have enabled me to afford a higher quality print run, produce hard back books and so on. I would like to crowd fund the production of the short film from my next expedition. Investors will receive incentives such as DVD’s, even their name in the film’s credits, and I will generate the capital required to get the project off the ground in the first place. And I am also exploring various possibilities for crowd funding a future expedition.

If done transparently and thoughtfully, crowd funding can be an exciting, mutually beneficial exchange. It generates funds, publicity and a “buzz” for the project. And it provides the donors with a film / book / product that they will enjoy and enjoy being involved in.

If done badly then you are unlikely to succeed in raising any money and likely to succeed in annoying people.

The only purpose of this blog is to flag up the idea of crowd funding to people who may not have come across it before because on November 1st Kickstarter, the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, opens in the UK. Keep an eye out then for early adopters in the UK expedition community.

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  1. Very timely post! I’ve just this morning launched a Kickstarter project to fund the self-publishing of my book. Very interested to see how it goes here in the UK, given its success Stateside. There seem to be plenty of applications for the concept in the field of adventure and exploration.

    • Hi Tom,
      I really hope your campaign goes well.

      I had a great email this morning from a grumpy but savvy friend of mine. Here’s what he said,
      “I reckon it will be a matter of months before I get daily kickstarter requests from people to fund their projects / holidays because they cant be arsed to either pay for it themselves or arnt good enough to get a book deal. It will be the next JustGiving for sure…. ‘please pay for me to go Skydiving because I really want to and don’t want to pay myself’…”

      I think that nails the downside of Kickstarter in the adventure world pretty nicely.

      • I do understand your grumpy friend’s point. Kickstarter have a reputation to defend, though, and they’re quite picky. They want to see creative ideas that promise tangible results. I went through several iterations of my project before it was approved for launch. For the first day, I’m pretty stoked at the response. And I haven’t even sent out any emails yet!

        Often with a book/film, it’s the upfront costs that are the issue. The publishing process runs into the thousands if you want to do it yourself and do it properly. Even though they could make it back in sales, most creatives don’t have a few grand lying around at that stage of a project.

        It’s worth pointing out that there are plenty of reasons to want to go down that route which have nothing to do with being ‘good enough’. I heard so many stories of small-scale publishers strangling their authors’ work that I didn’t even bother sending out manuscripts!

      • Surely Justgiving isn’t supposed to cover the costs of fundraiser events? I thought it all goes to charity.

        I think Kickstarter is all well and good as long as it’s communicated honestly and those undertaking a project are willing to chip in too. (for example, even though we have a trio of brilliant sponsors this winter, Just and I have still committed an extra five figures ourselves).

        • He is referring to the fatigue of getting endless emails saying, “please donate to my Justgiving page”.

          I think chipping in yourself, as you are doing, is a good idea.

  2. Francesca Posted

    Good luck with the book, Tom. I got your email this morning and chipped in. I tend to agree with your grumpy friend, Al. I get annoyed at constantly being hit up for money by adventurers who expect other people to fund their fun.

    I know that in Britain it’s common to raise funds for charity through expeditions, but I’m not even comfortable doing that. I figure that everyone has their own charities to support without me dunning them.

    When you do that, is it common to specify that expeditions costs are separate and that all funds go directly to charity?



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