One of the toughest things when launching a new event is having enough money to kickstart the process, book a venue and the first speakers before any money has been made through ticket sales or sponsorships. You don’t only need to have the money in the bank but also risk it all for a product that might not sell.
The guys from The Buddhist Geeks decided to mitigate part of this risk to organize the second edition of The Buddhist Geeks Conference in 2012 (I wrote about their 2011 edition here) by using the popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
As they mention on their Kickstarter page, they needed 20,000 out of 50-75,000 USD to make sure they could launch the conference, and they effectively raised 25,ooo USD by the deadline of the fundraising campaign!
Extract from their Kickstarter page:
Many don’t know that last year’s conference was completely self-funded. We raised all the money for the conference as we went along! We had no idea if we would make it work, or even if Buddhist Geeks would survive the process. If it weren’t for our most dedicated community members, and the generosity of many organizations and people who helped us make this happen, we wouldn’t have been able to pull it of. But fortunately we did, and we were able to break even financially last year. The risk was definitely worth the payoff!
This year we are committed to improving on last year, and in order to do that we need to be able to have a more robust conference budget, having access to the needed up-front funds to make it happen. The shoestring approach worked once, but it’s definitely not a sustainable strategy!
Some of the biggest costs in putting on a conference of this size include the cost of the conference venue (wireless internet is a must!), the costs associated with presenter travel, lodging, and payment, and all the technological, material, and logistical costs (we were surprised to see how these things could add up). In total, a conference like this costs between $50,000 – $75,000 to put on.
I believe the success of the fundraising campaign was based on a few of the following:
- they have a strong community that were moved to contribute to the fundraiser
- the first conference was really good and got a lot of online/offline buzz, attracting new people to the 2012 event
- they are putting on an original show (there aren’t many other events targeting buddhists and geeks alike)
From the 150 backers that contributed a total of 25,751 USD, 65% contributed between 50 and 250 USD. One even pledged 2,500 USD in one shot!
Could you raise funds to start your next event using a similar tactic?
Below is the video trailer they used to promote the fundraising.