A few months ago I heard about a service called Unbound which works slightly differently to a traditional publishing house. Instead of them deciding whether a book goes to print, the potential audience does by waving some money. This is a genius idea as demand comes before supply: readers choose the books they want, and publishers avoid stocking duds.
This post is not about Unbound themselves, but rather the template for their model and how this could be tweaked in other ways.
Kickstarter in the US was the first project of this type and it doesn’t limit itself to books. Neither do you have to pledge a set fee of £10 or more; you can give as little as $1. That single figure interests me a lot.
I’m throwing the following idea in the air as I wouldn’t know how to go about implementing it, nor do I have the funds. But I would like to see if, possibly, anybody could do something with this: a funding site that asks you to only donate £1 or equivalent in another currency.
The reason why I think this is attractive is because if you say to people “fund my project for only £1” a lot of people might be willing to do that, in the same way one might spare some change for a really good busker. Now, one person donating one pound won’t circulate much blood into a project, but £1000 may help; for example, to fund a small, online advertising campaign. You would achieve this by requiring 1000 people to donate £1 and only getting access to those funds if exactly 1000 people, and no less, do think you deserve a penny – or actually a pound – for your thoughts. £1000 is not enough for other purposes, so you might need 10,000 people to back you. If your project requires £10,000 pounds you almost surely want enough people to be interested. Perhaps the max. limit you could set before a target gets difficult to achieve is 50,000-100,000 people.
The whole idea is about getting more people to give less than less people to give more. If a project is worthy enough it will either make you as much or more than you could expect from a site that has a high-bottom donation amount or no max. amount since most people on those hope others will be more generous. Of course, the said site needs to have presence. It needs to be the eBay of funding companies.
This idea could probably work with charities too. A number of them here ask you to text a number to have £5 deducted from your mobile account, but why not just ask for £1 instead? Lots of people wouldn’t think much of it. £1 is easy for people to part with, £5 not always so, even if for a really good cause.
Of course, even though you’re pledging a one-figure amount, you would like some kind of proof that the money is being put to use as promised, and this can be achieved by holding the recipient to account; them providing tangible proof, in some way, that they’re not just bagging easy money. In some cases, a recipient could be provided the services required directly (e.g. manufacturing), or a trusted middleman (Escrow-like) can monitor the use of funds.
Additionally, if the funding recipient is going to roll out a product, they could provide extras such as a discount to people who funded them; a reward.
I’m not actively fishing for comments here, but feel free to add them (or direct me to a philanthropist and some really good techies!). Any flaws in this napkin-plan?