What we learned from the Kitchen Upgrade Appeal

We are in the last few days of the crowd source effort for the conference site kitchen up grade.  We will likely miss our goal.  Fortunately, the option we selected on Indiegogo (our crowd source host) insures we still get the pledges (and supply all the premiums), but our processing fees are higher if we come in short.  Specifically, if we make the $8K goal on the kitchen campaign, we will pay the crowd source host 4%, if we are anything shy of the goal, we pay them 9% to process the donations.  This makes great sense from the perspective of the crowd source platform, because you want people submitting  campaigns to think hard about what they need and carefully design their goals.  This was not one of our mistakes, $8K was a reasonable and appropriate goal for us.

Click on the banner ad to make a last-minute donation.


Nor was outreach our problem.  We contacted former participants of the communities conference and women’s gatherings and asked them to support this necessary upgrade. We blogged about the campaign, posted it everywhere on Facebook and Google Plus that made sense.  Used the FIC newsletters and other email lists to let people know what was happening.  Even shot a couple of compelling videos about the importance of the event.

We even got the community to get behind the campaign by getting a pledge from Twin Oaks that if we make the goal, the community will contribute another $7K to upgrading the site, effectively doubling the crowd source contributions.

So if we set the goal right, did strong outreach to friends and allies, got matching funds, what went wrong?  Why are we not making the goal?

Part of the problem is the hybrid nature of our event.  We are not a classical non-profit, we occupy an unusual economic terrain,  “Why should people give money to support your business?” GPaul asked pointedly.   Technically, the communities conference and women’s gathering are cottage industries under the community’s umbrella of businesses.  It is a bit rare for people to give money to for profit enterprises.

Willow's first Conference. With organizers Valerie, Sky Blue and myself - circa 2003 Photo by Anissa

Willow’s first Conference. With organizers Valerie, Sky Blue and myself – circa 2003 Photo by Anissa

But for better or worse, we don’t really operate these events as profit maximizing operations.  We try to make them accessible to everyone who wants to come (charging sliding scale for entry).  We get lots of volunteer labor to help make them happen.  We charge only a tiny amount over our costs for people who can’t camp out and sleep at Sophia House near by.  We offer some work exchange positions for people who want to come but can’t afford the low registration fee.  We offset some travel expenses for our presenters.  We are not looking to make bank on this event, something better than breaking even is great.  The purpose of the event is to build the movement, foster new communities and to facilitate networking.  These priorities trumps making money.

Another thing we could have done better was selecting more premiums earlier.  We are relatively new to crowd sourcing (having really only worked on the Acorn Arson Appeal campaign before) and probably underestimated the importance of this aspect of the appeal.  In case you are interested or influenced, there are now more premiums on the campaign, including a fine Twin Oaks hammock, copies of “Is it Utopia Yet?” and Southern Exposure seeds.

One of the new premiums for the campaign

One of the new premiums for the campaign

And i would happily be proven wrong.  Bust out your credit card and help put us over the top, all contributions are still welcome (remember to end you donation in a $1 increment so we can tell you were inspired by this post – so $51 or $101 etc).  And even more importantly, come to the communities conference (instead of Burning Man, which you don’t have tickets for anyway and it is sold out).

If you have seen one art car, you have seen them all

If you have seen one art car, you have seen them all

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

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