Go Go Lexington: IndieGoGo Makes its Mark in Lexington

Go Go Lexington: IndieGoGo Makes its Mark in Lexington

This article appears on page 7 of the August 9  print edition of Ace Weekly.

Photo by Alan Rideout, Rideout Photography (See also: IndieGoGo)

Founded around the same time as KickStarter, IndieGoGo is another crowdfunding platform that has hosted over 100,000 campaigns centering on music, small businesses, and charities. IndieGoGo works fundamentally the same as KickStarter. Fundraisers decide how much money they want to raise, how long their campaign will run, create a pitch, and offer “perks” to donors based on how much they donate. However, there are two main differences between the two crowdfunding giants.

Firstly, IndieGoGo has a different price structure than KickStarter. Where KickStarter applies a 5% fee on any funds that are raised, but charges no fee if funding isn’t successful, IndieGoGo applies a 9% fee if a fundraiser’s goal isn’t met, but only a 4% fee once the fundraising goal is achieved.

This brings us to the second significant difference between the two platforms. Where a fundraiser has to meet his or her goal to collect any funds with KickStarter, campaign creators receive any funds raised regardless of whether or not the goal is met with IndieGoGo. The incentive to set a realistic fundraising goal is to get IndieGoGo’s 4% fee versus their 9% fee.

This pricing model makes IndieGoGo particularly attractive to campaigners who can utilize the funds, regardless of whether or not the goal is met. Where a product launch may hinge on getting the necessary amount of money to produce a prototype, a charity fundraiser can benefit from any amount of money donated.

Notable IndieGoGo campaigns have been seen on major news outlets and in headlines across the blogosphere. The most newsworthy campaign was held for Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor, who received over $700,000 from the campaign started by Max Sidorov.

Of less mainstream fame, but huge viral sensation, was the Bear Love Good Cancer Bad campaign held by Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal. He endeavored to raise $20,000, so that he could take a picture of the money and send a copy of it along with a picture of a competitor’s mother seducing a Kodiak bear to an attorney who threatened to sue him. The money would then be donated to the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. The Oatmeal fanbase took it viral and rather than raising $20,000, the campaign ended up raising $220,000 for the two charities.

Lexington fundraisers looking to utilize the popular crowdfunding model have also had success using IndieGoGo’s platform. Lexington LGBTIQQA activist, Jackson Cofer [page 8] started a campaign entitled Top Surgery to raise money for surgery to complete his final stage of gender reassignment. Cofer, full-time student in UK’s art administration program and Sales & Grants Director at WRFL 88.1 FM, utilized some very creative perks in his campaign to incentivize friends and loved ones into giving. For example, $10 donors each received personalized axolotl cartoons drawn by Cofer himself. The first ten $100 donors were invited to a pancake breakfast at Cofer’s home, and $1,000 donors were entitled to 50 hours of volunteer work on the part of the fundraiser. Cofer met and exceeded his goal of $7,000, raising $7,777 total.

Lexington-based, volunteer-run Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop utilized IndieGoGo to raise $6,000 for equipment needed in a move from their existing 500 sq ft space to a new 2500 sq ft space on a proposed community bike trail. Perks ranged from one-on-one bike tune-ups for $50 donors, all the way up to a private Ben Sollee performance for $2,500 donors. The bike advocates raised $6,310 total.

Recently, Lexington native Ann Bransom began a campaign to raise money for two local artists, husband and wife photography team Alan and Kristina Rideout, Second Shot: Cameras for a Cause. Bransom found IndieGoGo during The Oatmeal’s campaign, and began her own campaign to raise money for two additional charities. It was largely a satirical response to the Streisand Effect being created by the attorney suing Matthew Inman, but the campaign went viral and Bransom raised $2,500, more than twice her goal of $1,000.

“Honestly, I was shocked that anyone donated, and then the donations just kept rolling in,” Bransom said. “I was overwhelmed by the response. I knew that it was a platform I would use again.”

So when, Alan Rideout approached Bransom for help with getting his photography company back on its feet after a difficult year recovering from the theft of more than $6,000 in photography equipment, IndieGoGo was the first thing that came to Bransom’s mind.

“Here you have two incredible photographers, who are not able to use their gifts, because of this terrible, unforeseeable event,” Bransom said. “I could think of 100 people just off the top of my head that would jump at the chance to help them. They just needed an easy way to do that.”

The campaign, Second Shot – Cameras for a Cause, is currently taking donations to replace Rideout Photography’s stolen equipment. The Rideouts didn’t want to take any help without paying that help forward, so 5% of all the funds received are being donated to the University of Kentucky Photography Department. Donors are being incentivized with limited edition prints of Rideout’s work, but all donors are invited to a special event that takes the online fundraiser offline.

Donors and guests are invited to attend a pop-up gallery on the first night of Lexington’s fall gallery hop. September 21, from 6-8pm Rideout Photography will hold a pop up art exhibit, and anyone who donated to the IndieGoGo campaign will be entitled to a free digital portrait at the event. Additionally, guests will be invited to participate in a live photography project that will take place that evening. The campaign hopes to raise $5,000.

“I think what we’ve learned from crowdfunding is that people really do want to support artists and businesses and inventors directly. They want to feel like they are directly involved with the things they consume, instead of just buying a product on the other end of the funnel,” says Bransom. “From the benefactors’ of these campaigns perspective, it lets them creatively interact with the people who support them. Far cooler and more impactful than going to a bank and asking for a loan.”


Archie Borders Kickstarts for Everybody Speaks Elton John: A Film with John Doe, Loudon Wainwright, Aimee Mann

Ed McClanahan: Write Home, Send Money (Funded.)

The Guy Mendes 40/40 Project (Funded.)

Andy Mason: Invitation to Conspiracy (Funded)