You have a unique idea for a journalism project and an entrepreneurial spirit. Inspired by the success of others, you want to use a crowdfunding platform to raise money.
Here are a few tips gleaned from recently launched or soon-to-launch startups:
Craft a creative, compelling pitch
To fund his narrative journalism platform The Big Roundtable, Columbia University professor Michael Shapiro used drawings, animation and more in a two-minute video on his Kickstarter campaign page. He also offered appealing perks, such as invitations to donor parties and author meetings, to potential supporters.
He surpassed his goal of US$5,000 and collected US$19,000, and launched the site three months later.
The fundraising campaign of Dutch news startup De Correspondent proved the golden rule of crowdfunding: the first few days of the campaign are crucial for reaching the goal.
De Correspondent, which aims to produce “slow journalism” that will go beyond the issues of the day, raised a stunning EUR 1 million (about US$1.3 million) in just eight days. The campaign asked for annual subscriptions of EUR 60 (about US$79). More than 15,000 people subscribed, and some even made an additional donation. Half that amount was donated in the first 24 hours.
This means you have to have all aspects of your campaign ready before you start publicizing it. And make sure to clear your calendar for the first few days so you can respond to questions from potential donors as well as any media requests.
Consider asking for non-monetary help
Spanish reporter Nazaret Castro, in partnership with Spain's Fronterad digital magazine, turned to the crowd to fund a reporting project to investigate the influence of the Spanish multinational companies in Latin America. She used the site Goteo.org to raise funds for her reporting trips to different countries.
Castro raised more than EUR4,800 (about US$6,400), but money wasn't her only request. She also asked for lodging in different countries, and ideas for sources and contacts, such as NGOs that could help her with logistics and reaching indigenous communities.
Seeking in-kind donations and information as Castro did lets people who support the idea, but who may not be able to make a monetary donation for either financial or professional reasons, help out and share what they can.
Gabriela Manuli, IJNet’s Spanish editor, is a freelance journalist from Argentina. She has a master's degree in public policy and media from the Central European University.
Photo courtesy of Epsos under a Creative Commons license.