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Kickstarting Social Change

November 26, 2012

The New Republic has a particularly harsh critique of Kickstarter, deriding it as the “world’s No. 1 [would-be] solver of First World problems.”

I’ve my reservations about Kickstarter, but Noreen Malone presupposes that Kickstarter intended to be a platform for social change. Kickstarter does exactly what it was meant to do: help fund projects that would otherwise not get funded by (slightly) democratizing access to financial resources.

Still, Malone correctly identifies Kickstarter’s limitations, which is why I’m not sure how Kickstarter’s crowdfunding model can be useful to mission-driven organizations. (Or at least justify its own hype). If your goal is to democratize and diversity philanthropy by encouraging more and more people to contribute to good causes, crowdfunding can be revolutionary. Right now, however, I’m not sure if the Kickstarter model can be useful to mission-driven entrepreneurs who need seed and early-stage funding.

It seems that a platform that follows some of the online models developed to connect entrepreneurs to angel investors might be more useful (and efficient). Oliver St. John writes about the growth of platforms that connect startups to angel investors; it seems like a platform that connected change agents directly to foundations and high net worth philanthropists would be more functional.

The purpose here wouldn’t be to democratize philanthropy, but to get funding quickly into the hands of change agents, and do it much more efficiently and transparently than it has been done in the past.

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