Consider this approach to being a focused crowd-funder

So the good news is that we live in this kind-of-amazing time where, thanks to the Internet, pretty much anyone can ask for money to do pretty much anything, and this is considered a legitimate way to subsidize the realization of great ideas. By way of crowd-funding Spose, like Spencer Albee did immediately before him, recently raised a nice chunk of cash with which he will produce an album. A little over a year ago, I raised money with which I started up a fun and successful web series. Walter White’s son even set up a website with which he raised funds for his drug kingpin father’s pretend cancer. Everyone is doing it.

The bad news is that we live in this kind-of-amazing time where, thanks to the Internet, pretty much anyone can ask for money to do pretty much anything, and it seems like almost everyone is doing exactly this. I have heard from from many folks that the amount of  asks coming up in their various feeds is overwhelming. Uncertainty about which projects to donate to makes it difficult to pay attention to all of the requests being floated, and so the whole of requests tend to get ignored entirely.

Instead of letting these understandably overwhelming feelings get in the way of this otherwise positive phenomenon, I decided to define the kinds of crowd-sourced projects I am interested in funding in advance so that I don’t have to find myself perplexed by which projects I would like to see become realities.

I tend to give to:

  1. Art-based projects are my first priority, particularly transgressive art, political art, and digital media. There will always be a core of folks interesting in putting money behind issues, but art appears to always be struggling. Speaking of issues…
  2. Political/Activist organizations and actions that support anti-status quo ideas and futures that otherwise earn little attention in the realms of popular media. (Ex. feminism, humanism, socialism, anarchism, third parties, etc.)
  3. Well-crafted news and programming, ranging from NPR to decent podcasts.

Again, having this list established in advance saves me from sorting through every single funding idea and establishing whether or not it is the right one for me to invest in. As much as I would like to give the whole of my money to every idea that comes along, it is not possible. Of course, if a friend or a news story comes along and highlights a great idea that exists outside of this set of these parameters, I am willing to make exceptions.

Also, I don’t give to causes simply because they come to me by way of generalized communication in my email inbox or on my Facebook timeline. A number of these projects are presented in a generic or overbearing fashion, and get overlooked accordingly. Call me a narcissist, but I tend to notice something a lot sooner if someone reaches out and, instead of putting a form ask in front of me, quickly suggests why this might be something I would be interested in giving to.

  • What crowd-funding projects have you been paying close attention to?
  • What, if any, are the projects you are most likely to give to?
  • What projects have you given to in the past? Were you satisfied with the experience and end result?


Alex Steed

About Alex Steed

Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was an insufferable teenager. He has run for the Statehouse and produced a successful web series. He now runs a content firm called Knack Factory with two guys who are a lot more talented than himself.