Monday, June 2, 2014

LeVar Burton Shows How To Crowdfund

We note with interest the recent Kickstarter campaign by LeVar Burton for Reading Rainbow. According to one news report, "Reading Rainbow, the PBS children’s program hosted by LeVar Burton that debuted in 1983 and went off the air in 2006,upset many with its departure. But Burton, who also executive produced the program, has managed to keep the project alive in some form or another in the time since. He launched the show as an app in 2012. And now his new venture is to take Reading Rainbow’s large digital library of books and videos to classrooms nationwide for free. But to do so Burton needs capital. So the Star Trek actor turned to Kickstarter to raise money. He launched his campaign last Wednesday to raise $1 million to launch his PBS children’s series online. Although Burton had allotted 35 days to raise the money, within 24 hours he had reached his goal."

Bravo! Why was this campaign so successful?
  • Well, it linked to two well known media properties, Reading Rainbow and Star Trek. 
  • The fact that Reading Rainbow was cancelled in 2006 and that Mr. Burton did not wait until now to try to relaunch, but had developed several successful products in the interim also worked in this campaign's favor.
  • His campaign was certainly socially responsible, with high social impact, focusing on an area of recognized need - education. 
  • He also had justification for a large crowdfunding goal. It other words, to do what he wanted to do, it will take at least a million. 
  • He had the name recognition required to generate initial curiosity, which, given the high quality of what he was offering, quickly turned into participation. 
  • He structured the rewards correctly, with an ultimate gift of some interest: a chance to wear Geordi's Visor at a dinner with Mr. Burton. Wow! It did not matter if anyone purchased the thing: that fact that it was offered at all showed Mr. Burton was all in. 
Let's look at his reward table:
NOTE: The campaign has multiple rewards at the same dollar level, so the table is not exact. Data as of June 2, 2014.
    For those of you considering crowdfunding, here are the key takeaways:

    A. You have a fan base. It is just not large enough to generate a million dollars in a day.
    B. Your fan base may, however, generate $1,000 in a day.
    C. If your crowdfunding goal is $1,000, then you are there.
    D. For your fan base, you also have something in your possession that will prove to them that you are all in. Think of what this might be and offer it (or a chance to posses it, if only temporarily.)
    E. Set a reasonable monetary goal, relative to what you are trying to do.
    F. Your entire campaign should be about something people can't get anywhere else, at any price.
    G. It should be for something that makes life better for someone else.

    1 comment:

    1. Great article, extremely insightful. Your breakdown of why things panned out was incredibly spot on and very easy to digest. It's not hard to see why Lavar was successful when described like this. It was more than just good rewards. Everything else was in place! Thank you for sharing this with us!