Not long ago, I had an idea to recruit experts to write a series of books on hacking learning. A few weeks later, I created a project plan that included many expensive parts. I needed money, and a friend suggested crowdfunding.
At first, I was dubious; I wasn’t sure this was evening a real thing. Then, I began researching crowdfunding and quickly learned that not only is it a legitimate way to raise money, people use crowdfunding for anything from buying a laptop to starting a software company to producing a movie.
After much contemplation, long conversations with partners and plenty of doubt, we decided to create a crowdfunding campaign. Is it a crazy idea? I thought so, at first.
Then, I realized something truly remarkable about crowdfunding–it has very little to do with raising money.
5 Reasons we use crowdfunding
1-To build awareness
I share massive amounts of content to millions of people every month on social networks, in order to inspire and help people solve problems. The Hack Learning Series is designed to do exactly this: Solve big problems with simple ideas. Crowdfunding sites, like Indigogo, can be more powerful than Facebook or Twitter. Not only do crowdfunding platforms provide social environments, they build awareness about what might just be the next great thing.
2–To provide purpose
You want to be part of something special; we all do. You want to contribute. Whether it’s your family, your school, your church, or your book club, you are proud to contribute to your special group or cause. A crowdfunding project gives you a glimpse of something before the world sees it. Even better, you can contribute to a vision and become part of the project or cause. When you donate, you invest in something you believe in; you now have one more thing that makes you feel special.
3–To avoid bureaucracy
Two years ago, I left my classroom, so I could write and present full-time. I had a grand vision of making the world a better place by helping educators improve how they help kids. Soon, consulting companies came calling. They invited me to push their products, to teach people how to integrate the Common Core or to promote someone else’s idea. I declined plenty of lucrative offers, knowing that in order to realize my dream, I need to work outside of the confines of organizations that have agendas that are different from mine. Crowdfunding will help me avoid the bureaucracy and promote what I know teachers, students and parents around the world need most.
4–To build community
Social networks have connected me to hundreds of thousands of teachers, parents, students and thought leaders from all over the world. We rely on each other to improve teaching and learning. Crowdfunding will, I hope, attract these existing community members and many others outside of my social networks. With a shared interest in improving teaching and learning the network that is created in the Hack Learning Series crowdfunding campaign should prove to be one of the most powerful communities in education. These people will be dedicated to changing the world.
In a world filled with regurgitation, standardization and accountability, creativity is often lost. Corporations and venture capitalists want cookie-cutter projects that mimic something that’s already been successful. Conversely, crowdfunding provides a chance for visionaries to create something original. People who contribute to crowdfunding campaigns look for what’s new, different, and creative. Teachers, parents and college students certainly don’t need another How to Pass a Standardized Test playbook. The Hack Learning Series crowdfunding campaign provides a path to something new, something visionary, something that is a true game changer.
Now that you understand why I chose crowdfunding, I hope you’ll consider contributing to not just me and my team but to a project that can change the world and create better teaching and learning forever.
A version of this post also appears on Brilliant or Insane.