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The Internet as a bank – crowdfunding for photographers

Submitted by on January 31, 2011 – 5:51 amOne Comment


One of the hot topics on the web, at least for people who need money to fund their work or business, e.g., photographers, musicians and other artists, as well as entrepreneurs, is crowdfunding. Simply put it means, that one would publish information about one’s project on the web and then ask people to back this up with a donation from as little as $1 to $500 or more. There are many websites which make this whole process easier for both parties (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Emphas.is, Catwalk Genius, A Swarm

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of Angels, Sell a Band and many more).

How to pitch for people to invest in a project is of course of great interest, because not doing this right, means to fail to get the necessary money and the project cannot be started. On every crowdfunding site there is a lot of good advice how to do this in a most appealing way.

One of the ways to make people invest in a project is to give them something back in return for their money. Since this cannot equal the money received,

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the give-backs are non-monetary or just worth a small percentage of the investment, like e-mails with some more information of the proceeding of the project, or exclusive websites (proposed by J.Colberg here), a simple thank-you-note, or a song, or CD, or a signed book, or a print for free or even homemade cookies. All this depending on the amount spent.

A lot of projects are successful and so a lot of people are trying to crowd-fund their projects, ranging from people who are already well known to people who are rather unknown by the large internet community.

The question which arrives here is, whether ‘famous’ people do not have an advantage — is it not easier for them to get money than it is for those who are ‘no-names’? Maybe ‘famous’ people do not have to give back so much as ‘no-names’? Maybe they do not have to explain in detail, how exactly they are going to spent the money received to make people give them money? An interesting discussion about this started with the Magnum photographer Larry Towell‘s crowd-funded project on David Campbell’s blog here. To give a fair chance to everybody asking for support, there should probably be some more regulations in place which everybody has to follow when asking for money.

A recent research of the University of Toronto shows a phenomenon of how such projects get momentum to attract more and more investors and succeed to get the money pledged for. Based on the findings of this research, Gijsbert Koren comes on

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his blog, Smarter Money (sic!) to the conclusion, that the first investors are the tribe, the friends and families of the artist. His explanation of this is very simple:

“because they like and trust the artist and want to support him”

Once the family and friends show support for the artist, more and more investors will come in:

“investors attract more investors”


For those, who do not have an international well known name, this gives actually hope. At least if they can bring in their families and friends to invest even a small amount in their project “to make it going”. Indonesia with the concept of extended family should be able to give support to its artists in this way, right?

What are your thoughts or experiences?
In another post we discuss, whether Arisan, the Indonesian way of saving money, can be a model of supporting photographers to finance their projects.

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