December 26, 2014

The Naked Truth about Crowdfunding (a personal Buddhist Account).

shoes laced together

The Crowdfunding Facts

Crowdfunding has been around for a while now and many people have done it quite successfully.

The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns are listed here by Forbes Magazine. Each of these raised over a million dollars. Granted they are all tech startups, which trend higher on all the crowdfunding platforms.

So, if a campaign is based on something non-techie know now that it will never be able to compete and be satisfied with that—it’s just not as cool.

Even though Kickstarter has raised almost a billion and a half dollars (whoa!) less than half have been successful.

The current stats are: 195,641 projects launched, 75,973 projects successfully funded, 114,193 projects unsuccessfully funded. That gives us a whopping success rate of 39.55%, thus illustrating the point: success is not guaranteed in this arena.

It’s not even a coin toss. Ya gotta work it, work it hard, and work it smart.

How to Ensure Crowdfunding Failure

Ignorance: Ignore everything about crowdfunding. Ignore the clock. Believe in doing it all yourself.

Attachment: Expect others to do what they say they will, especially in a timely manner.

Aversion: Let fear get in the way. I’ve got this.

My Sad Reality

At the moment I write this, my IndieGoGo campaign has raised 5% of its funds with only five days left on a 30 day run.



My first step is to ask for an extension of 30 more days for any hope of making my goal. Like many others, I like to say that I work better under the gun, under a deadline but it’s not true.

I may work more feverishly, but not better.

Better is: planning out the entire campaign before launch and preparing email lists months in advance. Scheduling when to send emails one, two, three and follow up four. Posting about the campaign on the many social networks at least every other day and soliciting at least one partner in crime who can pick up the ball and say “I’ve got this.” Whew!

Overcoming Ignorance

Step 1: Advice

This may be my first rodeo but many people have done this before, and well. Enter Tim Ferris. His article on Hacking Kickstarter is genius.

I read it multiple times before I launched. Did I follow his prescribed blueprint for success? No. Are things working out? No.

In addition to Tim’s sage words, each platform has a guide to running a successful campaign: The IndieGoGo Playbook and Kickstarter’s Creator’s Handbook. They are quite useful!

Step 2: Timing

Ignoring the clock until the 11th hour is a bad habit that has been my default setting for as long as I can remember. Like I mentioned before, we don’t work better under pressure, we only work in a more frenzied manner.

But working with the clock requires planning, and planning necessitates scheduling and discipline to see through. Unfortunately, both of these words leave me cold.

Happily, I’m getting better at this as I get older. I’m more knowledgeable about efficiency and how the brain works.

Working with the clock is a must when Crowdfunding. Because the clock is ticking. And then it will stop. Game over.


Step 3: DIY

Enlist people to help. No man or woman is an island. DIY might still be trendy but remember that Martha Stewart has always had talented minions making her stuff and building her brand.

Personally, I’ve always liked to consider myself a Lone Wolf. I enjoy solitary projects. I’m not always great at compromise. But when I became a Buddhist that started to change. I say “started” because it’s a constant learning for me.

I have accepted sangha as one of the Three Jewels but maybe not so much as my personal jewel.

Sangha, or community, is kind of messy. It comes with other people’s stuff, other people holding me accountable and having to ask for help when I need it.

But community is exactly what Crowdfunding is about. And half the reason that people contribute to campaigns is to feel a part of something. One community aspect I’m really good at is acknowledging people.

I shout out to my product (Darrin Harris Frisby) and model (Rob Hawthorne) photographers on down to my logo designer (Marshall Demaranville) on my campaign page. And I send a public thank you to every contributor on FaceBook.

But I still don’t have a team to help me run the campaign.

Fact: campaigns run by two or more team members raise 94% more money than campaigns run by single individuals. Sh*t. I need to build a team.

Overcoming Attachment

No matter how great my relationships are, or how close my connections, it is a big mistake to expect others to contribute to my campaign, share the link with their friends on Facebook and email 10 people telling them how great my product is and how my campaign deserves to make its goal.

If a campaign is good then people will certainly do these things; sometimes they will do all three. But I can’t expect people to do it. They have their own lives, ability and desire to do any of these things at any given time.

Besides, people like to procrastinate just like I do. So expecting them to do something and do it in my time frame is ridiculous.

This is the part where I get to practice non-attachment. Letting go of the results of my endeavor, while still working joyfully toward my goal and being content with my accomplishments, is what’s important.

The money will come, eventually, even if the monetary goal of my campaign is not achieved. I will be able to manufacture my product and put it out into the world at some later time. It will just take much more time. And if that turns out to be the case, then I will have to be satisfied with that.

Overcoming Aversion

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt 

It is fear, the ultimate aversion, that hinders me at the need to reach out and let people know about my campaign (which really means to ask for contributions and participation on a monetary level). Actually, I freeze, like that a stupid deer who stands motionless in the headlights in the middle of the road.

We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
~ Marianne Williamson

In order to overcome my deepest fear I must perform “The Great Ask.”

It calls out “Look at me. I shine. Please recognize that by supporting this thing that I’ve poured my heart, sweat and tears into.”

This is partly what we are doing when we click the “launch campaign” button and send out all those emails to people we haven’t spoken to in years. And it’s terrifying.

One person I greatly admire for not being afraid to ask is Joshua Onysko, founder of Pangea Organics. From the start he asked for help, received and then used it to build his company.

In the beginning he would throw “Soap Parties” and ask friends to come over and wrap soap bars to sell. In return he cooked big vats of delicious curry and fed everyone. The curry was so good people came to these parties again and again to donate their labor. 12 years later, he has secured $4M in new funding for Pangea Organics. Bravo!

I can only imagine how much he would have raised if Crowdfunding existed when he was starting his company.

I would also like to acknowledge that without his faith in my knowledge and ability as a skincare expert I would never have had the fire to make the product this IndieGoGo campaign is raising funds to manufacture. Thank you Mr. Onysko.

Sticking With It

I’m not throwing in the towel yet.

I have done a few things right: my campaign page is compelling and beautiful to look at, the product is amazing and there is a need for this product in the world. This is not a complete flop.

There are still days left in the campaign. I don’t need to start over. I just need to re-tool my approach and do some of the things Tim Ferris recommended.

“The journey may be demanding, but there is no way of avoiding it.” ~ Chogyam Trungpa.

So, I might as well take that greatest advice ever, thought up by advertising geniuses (not spiritual gurus) and just do it.

My promise is to take my own advice. To work smarter, harder, and not be afraid to ask. The community at large is welcome to hold me accountable by criticizing, praising or heckling me on the social networks and below in the comments. And please, anybody who has run a crowdfunding campaign, successful or not, please add your voice. I appreciate your sage words.

Please support this living breathing organism we call Crowdfunding in some way, if not to contribute or share my campaign then to do so for someone else’s or maybe even create a campaign.


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Author: Jen Murphy

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: courtesy of the author

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