Kickstarters for Dummies


If you’ve ever had to ask for a favor, or given one with no chance of reward or recognition – you are the person to whom a “kickstarter” speaks. I have to put it in quotes like that because, just like not all tissues are Kleenex, not all crowdsourcers are Kickstarters. Kickstarter is one of several platforms available for people seeking a kind-of unconventional financing for a dream, or a life-saving surgery or a funeral, or.or.or. There are as many reason to launch a kickstarter (I’m just going to keep it easy and default to the term everybody seems to know) as there are people launching them.

I don’t have the time or inclination to school you on what all is involved in these campaigns. I know you can Google the words I am using here and find the answers you’re looking for. Suffice to say, with but very few exceptions – the people who utilize these tools do not do so lightly. It’s a colossal pain in the butt and it’s humbling and difficult. (Unless you’re one of the few guys like the potato salad guy who went viral and raised almost $70k when he was looking for $10. THAT was one killer campaign and proved that crowdsourcing can be a wicked-cool way to raise money.)

A lot of people ask me why they would or should donate to a kickstarter, especially the ones that are not saving lives or seemingly promoting a greater good than one person’s well being. I only know why I donate and encourage others to do so with me. I also know, fo.sho and without doubt, that if it doesn’t make you feel good – Do NOT do it. If you’re on the fence, look into it and if you get the whole Pay it Forward vibe, on a fundamental level – we so SO should talk.

What follows are basically my top few kickstarters for this day, maybe week. I get to see and help with enough of these to know that I could share a new one every day for a year and not make all the people happy all the time.

1. My Friend Karen was a peaceful Rock Star who left too soon and her sons are trying to gather resources to recover from an unexpected and prolonged hospital stay. I’ve got a shirt from this ride, a few times over, and it’s impossible to explain to anybody how much debt can be accrued (how quickly!) when this happens to a family. I am all for lightening their load, if at all possible and Karen was important to my tapestry in my hometown.

2. My buddies Brian and Mel have a baby Rose who has presented them with extra opportunities to be strong and resilient and brave, When I was too young to process it, one of my cousins died from similar conditions and it’s made me super-sensitive to the quality of life these guys get. We take so much for granted and it seems to me that throwing a $10 bill into that mix would make way more difference than if I squandered it on candy and gum.

3. Journalism student, Scoop Nemeth has just recently entered my orbit and I am absolutely intrigued with his flavor of candor. He is On The Spectrum and speaks with a truthfulness that is pretty much unprecedented in broadcast journalism. I just want to see how far this guy goes. I think he’s got the spark inside him and my life is made better by his creativity and perspective. I paid to watch Monty Python, back in the day; Now I throw down on kickstarters to make my life more colorful. And, truthfully – I want to live in a world where people like Scoop can realize their dreams, so if I get to split my lunch with him to make it happen, it’s all good.

4. Me. And, omg – for real. Hardest.Thing.Ever. Longest ever story made as short as possible: I might or might not have had a hand in relegating myself to a second-class position for maybe a decade or three. My bad. I was an early-adopter on all today’s most popular life changers: Cancer, identity theft, poverty … blah blah blah. That’s all ancient history now, but it’s about a world away from the way I saw things working out when I was a 30 year old. As luck (mostly mine) would have it: All my gear is threatening to shoot craps and either I get new seeing-eye glasses or learn Braile. Not your problem, I know. BUT, I think I fill a void in your day and, just like pledging $10 to your local public radio station, I am worth it. I’m not asking for a burger today that I pay for tomorrow, I’ll send you snail mail that will rock your day. Not like the other snail mails much at all, the mail I send falls into the “Epic” camp. You could be part of this fabulously unconventional life I’ve chosen to chart for all of us. Y’never know – if there’s a Zombie apocalypse, you’re gonna be looking for a trail guide with maps.

(just for the record: I do make money and manage to not die, week after week. I need new glasses and gear in order to do the work I do, and we’ve got such a sweet thing going here – you and me. I love how  you always let me pick the music and you don’t make me go to bed too early, I was hoping we’d just see where this takes us. No pressure, y’know – just friends.)

If you’re in a position to donate to somebody who has gone through the bone-grinding and soul-searching that setting up a kickstarter requires – DO that. If it pisses you off or makes you want to pull out a soapbox and use the word “entitlement” a lot, move on. For the love of all things holy: Really. Just please.Stop. Let it go. OR, sleep more soundly knowing your $10 donation helped change a life that you care about. Your call.


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