Journalists turn to Kickstarter in a big way

by December 11, 2014

Two summers ago, I dove into crowd funding. I successfully funded a journalism project, Curbing Cars: Rethinking The Way We Get Around, which looked at how Americans are changing their attitudes toward driving. Earlier this year, I published the purpose of the Kickstarter, an eBook from Forbes.

The project took a lot of planning, and there was some nail biting and cajoling as the deadline approached. To be honest, I had to dispense with my discomfort about asking friends for help, and get over my hesitancy to self-promote.

But we made it, and it turns out that Kickstarter is fast becoming a funding mechanism for other journalists. I was reminded of it this week when Molly O’Neill, the food journalist and a former colleague at The New York Times, successfully funded her project, called Little BIG Books.

Earlier this year, Kickstarter introduced a Journalism category (it’s separate from the traditional Publishing category). Another former Times colleague David Gallagher, now one of the movers and shakers at Kickstarter, sent me some stats.

  • ¬†145 journalism projects have been successfully funded so far this year.
  • They’ve raised a total of $1,353,920.
  • They attracted¬†20,572 pledges (not backers — since backers may have pledged to more than one project)
Let’s ponder those numbers one more time. There are 145 journalism projects that didn’t exist before 2014 that now exist, thanks to donations from the public. Just these projects, which don’t include mine from last year, have raised $1.3 million, and more than 20,000 pledges were made to back them.
I’d say that’s pretty convincing evidence of the power of crowd funding in journalism. And, there are other crowd funding sources beyond Kickstarter, like Indiegogo, whose rules are slightly different.
Here are some of the Kickstarter-related projects that launched or expanded in 2014.

The Reynolds Center is planning to offer a workshop in 2015 with plenty of tips for planning and launching your journalism project. In the meantime, take a look at these resources if you want to start planning ahead. And just give me a call if you want to brainstorm. Crowd funding isn’t easy, but it’s bringing journalism to life.

STORY IDEAS

Kickstarter FAQs

Seven Crowdfunding Tips

Crowdfunding Pros and Cons