International Women's Day
Hi I'm Jessica and I have just had my first experience of crowd funding and i sucessfully reached my target!
I am currently putting on an exhibition 'You Must Love Working Here' which will be the first exhibition held as part of the Glasgow International Comedy festival. Instead of casting a light on comedians, this project turns the spotlight on the people who work offstage in comedy clubs, behind the bar and keeping hecklers in check.
The comedy festival was able to support the exhibition by including it in the programme and advertising it where possible, and The Bungo are supporting it by providing their walls and hosting the exhibition; but there were no funds available to cover the expenses. I discussed the funding options with Andrew Learmonth who I am collaborating with. He produced a radio package about the project for the BBC Comedy Cafe and is promoting it in the press. I considered Creative Scotland and other funding bodies, but as everything was in place for the exhibition to happen it felt quite risky to make an application for funding and then just wait with my fingers crossed, hoping to be awarded the funds.
I had been keen to try crowd funding after going to the social media week in Glasgow last September. I'd listened to a talk from Michelle Rodger co-founder of Bloom VC and Mhairi Mackenzie who successfully used crowd funding to purchase a laser cutter for her expanding business. Click here to watch SMW video
These talks were really insightful and inspiring. Andrew and I were able to pool our resources to put together a good selection of rewards, so I decided to give it a go.We covered all the bases, with rewards from £3 all the way up to £500 in case some generous soul wanted to fund the whole thing.
I have never been terribly good at self-promotion, but it was a sink or swim moment, I could put the initial work into the project and then let it fizzle out, or I could force myself to tweet like crazy and find new ways to push the rewards and get some energy and support behind what I had started. It is hard asking people for money, especially when it's not for a charitable cause but something closer to you.
Research has shown that women on the whole are not as good at ascertaining their worth as men, they tend to sell themselves short and are less likely to ask an employer for a raise. Historically they have also found it harder to gain access to traditional funding for business and other ventures. Social change is redressing that balance. Crowd funding, which relies on social input, not only allows you to gain funding for your idea, but it helps you to engage with people and gain more confidence in both yourself and your idea as you do it.
I don't know if it is the more feminine facets of my personality that helped me to succeed, but I did feel more engaged with my potential audience and I was more successful than I have been going down traditional funding avenues. Crowd funding gives you a clear goal, and allows you to be very organised. You know when you will receive the money and you can budget in advance, and for any changes along the way. It is a very open and risk-free way of testing your ideas and hopefully helping them to flourish.
I did also also apply for funding halfway through this project as a plan B, but I am so far yet to hear back. Either way though my exhibition will be up in Glasgow this March, and if I gain the other funding it will go to Edinburgh for The Fringe as well.
A big thank you to Jessica for sharing her experience of crow funding and please keep an eye out for the 'You must love working here' exhibition!