Do the Rich and Famous Have an Edge in Crowdfunding?


The need to raise money doesn’t just apply to businesses and entrepreneurs that are short on their liquid cash reserves. Even the rich and famous have a need to raise money for ideas and many are turning to crowdfunding to make this happen. The only problem is that many are discovering that their star power isn’t enough to raise the cash than an entrepreneurial idea needs. People might be more inclined to look at the projects of the rich and famous more than the average Joe, but without a viable plan, even a celebrity’s crowdfunding campaign is going to fail.

Why Would the Average Person Give Money to the Wealthy?

For modern crowdfunding, it’s more about someone being able to take ownership of a project by being a low-level backer more than anything. When they feel like they’ve got some skin in the game, then the seed capital that they’re providing makes them become part of the project. When James Franco sought to raise $500k for a series of movies, people contributed because it meant they’d be part of the movies too.

In many ways, a crowdfunding platform is a lifeline for those creative types who have traditionally struggled to earn a living. The only problem is that for the rich and famous who are using crowdfunding in the way of a starving artist, there can be only one of two outcomes: excitement or apathy. For James Franco, who didn’t reach his goals, it was apathy. On the other hand, LeVar Burton and Kristen Bell saw great success with Veronica Mars and Reading Rainbow.

So what is the difference? Why are some celebrity campaigns outrageously successful and others dismal failures? It is often about what the micro-backer, the average Joe, gets in return for their investment.

Reading Rainbow Set the Bar High For Value

Having millions of followers and a strong brand name can create a lot of awareness for a campaign, but there must be something valuable that will tempt people to turn from being a follower into being a backer. Reading Rainbow offered a plethora of valuable rewards, from Patrick Stewart reading children’s stories to families in an intimate setting to getting the chance to put on Burton’s visor he wore while playing Geordi LaForge.

The narrative must also be able to strike a chord with people. “When LeVar Burton said that Reading Rainbow needed money, I knew I had to help,” said one commentator on their Kickstarter campaign. Over 18,000 people also made similar comments. Being a part of this campaign meant being part of something that could create a lot of social good. Was there a bit of nostalgia involved as well? Possibly, but how can one argue about the need for children to learn how to read in a way that works for them?

Crowdfunding can work, even for the rich and famous. The lesson that needs to be learned, however, is that a campaign must have value in order for it to be successful. If the public doesn’t see any value, then there won’t be any results at the end of that campaign.

Just ask James Franco.