I’ve been hearing more and more about Kickstarter and how people are using it to fund innovative and exciting projects. I did some research to find out just what Kickstarter is and how business people and non-profits can use it to fund their own projects. Here’s what I found.

Kickstarter is a website that people can browse to find projects that interest them in fields they’re passionate about (like art, music, food, and technology) and then back projects with any amount they choose. As a reward for backing, project organizers give backers a variety of incentives at different levels. For example, there’s a project on Kickstarter right now called “Sunboxes in Vermont State Parks.” It’s a project to develop a solar powered sound installation. It’s a interesting concept, made up of twenty speakers that are powered independently by the sun. A different loop in each box is programmed to play a different guitar note continuously. Combined, these guitar notes make a Bb chord, and because the loops are each a different length, once the piece begins they continually overlap and the piece slowly evolves over time. The rewards for backers of the sunbox project are: a photo of the sunboxes if you pledge $1, a recording of the sunboxes if you pledge $5, a video of the sunboxes if you pledge $10, and so on. Backers of $500 or more receive a triptych of three original prints of the sun boxes in a Vermont State Park, and backers of $2500 or more get their own set of sun boxes installed wherever they’d like them.

So, what does it take to have your own successful project on Kickstarter? There are a few things to shoot for:

  • A solid idea that’s been mapped out and completely thought through. You want people to understand that you have a fleshed-out concept, not a bare bones idea you just thought of five minutes ago.
  • A detailed plan. Your plan should include timeframes, necessary partners, and anything else you’ll need.
  • Qualified experience that shows you’re competent to complete your project. How can you show that your track record proves that you’re the one to do this and succeed?
  • Necessary skills. What skills will you need? If you don’t have all the required skills, who do you know that does have those skills? You will want to show that you have what it takes to get your project done.
  • Clear goals and expectations. People want to know if you’re doing this to better the world, for your own profit, to raise money for a cause, or for some other reason. What is your purpose? Where will the money go? Be clear and let people know what to expect.

To check out Kickstarter or read some good information on it, visit the Kickstarter website or this excellent blog post on the subject. If you’ve got a great idea that you know you could make happen if you just had some cash, you might want to take a closer look at what Kickstarter can do for you.