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Project funding in the digital age

May 12, 2013
By CRAIG HOWELL , Weirton Daily Times

To put together any kind of project or program usually takes money. Even when you put something together using only volunteers, there has to be some fundraising done, or a willingness by those volunteers to put their own money into it.

It's one thing to seek support such as this from everyday people when it comes to a community festival, or a benefit to assist with someone's medical bills, or to support a local non-profit in its work to provide services to the community.

It's something else entirely when it comes to launching a business or a major project. That takes more money and more effort, and chances are you won't really get much of a return out of it.

In the last year or so, I've heard about various projects funded through a site called Kickstarter.

Essentially, it's a way for people to put their idea, project or program out there to the world at large and ask for donations to help get them started.

In other words, it's a way to try and get some start-up capital without having to go through regular financial channels. You're getting a kickstart without really having to pay anyone back for their assistance.

For example, there is a small boardgame company I've heard of. It's been in development the last couple of years, and they have a couple of products out there. It's not national, but they have been pounding the pavement to sell their product, going to conventions and game shows and using the Internet to get word of mouth as part of their marketing effort.

They recently launched an effort to help fund their newest game. As part of that release, they have asked for assistance to raise the needed funding.

I have never tried to launch a product of my own, but I can only imagine it is getting more difficult to get the needed money. People aren't as willing to take chances when providing backing, and business loans aren't available to everyone.

Starting a business or launching a new product is always a risk, and if it's something small like that, perhaps a Kickstarter campaign is not a bad thing.

But there are other projects out there as well which have their own campaigns, and they don't always make the most sense.

Fans of the television show "Veronica Mars," for example have raised at least a few million dollars to try and get a movie made as a way to either bring back the franchise or properly wrap it up.

The show, which had a cult following from some of the younger generations, my own included, was canceled rather unceremoniously several years ago without a real ending.

If someone loves that show enough, and wants to see some version of it brought back, then OK. There's an opportunity.

But I'm not sure that's something to be done for every movie or television show idea out there.

What happens if the movie doesn't get enough funding to be produced, or the television show doesn't get picked up for broadcast? Hopefully, you didn't invest a lot of money into it.

Ultimately, it is up to each person to back a project they find through this site.

An investment, whether it is putting some money up for a project, buying stocks or loaning someone a little bit of money to help them out, is always a bit of a gamble. We never know how it will play out.

We take the chance and we live with the consequences, whether good or bad.

It's just that now we have more diverse options of how to do it.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

 
 

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