Takeaways from the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter Success


In just 24 hours, the Kickstarter campaign for Reading Rainbow achieved success. The goal was to raise $1 million and they did that in just 11 hours. Overall the total campaign brought in $5.4 million in pledges and there was an additional $1 million pledge from outside the system, bringing the entire total to just under $6.5 million for a month of fundraising.

In total, more than 100,000 people contributed to the campaign, making it the most supported Kickstarter ever. About 50% of the people who contributed sent Reading Rainbow $5. Why was LeVar Burton so successful? Here are some of the lessons that were learned from the successes of this campaign.

They Got Out There

Even after achieving $1 million, they didn’t stop. They set a stretch goal of $5 million and then hit the interview circuit everywhere. Burton did a Reddit AMA and got the positive press of hitting their goal. Before you know it, they had $2.5 million in just 48 hours. By the end of their first week, contributions start fading off and Reading Rainbow had $3.5 million.

He Got Some Help

Once the pledges stopped rolling in as rapidly, Burton solicited some help from his friends. A number of personalities from “Star Trek” joined in for the rewards, offering to read children’s books and other live, one-time events. It wasn’t just the celebrity draw that helped to spread the campaign, however, because more than 1,000 volunteers spread the news of the Kickstarter through social networks.

A Nerve Was Touched

People contributed because they had a relationship with the Reading Rainbow brand already. As one commenter put it, “When LeVar Burton said that Reading Rainbow needed help, I couldn’t say no because the show helped me so much growing up. I want it to be there for my children.” People supported the campaign because they felt like they knew Burton on a personal level.

It’s the Beginning That Counts

A vast majority of the support that Reading Rainbow received came within the first week. Giving didn’t start picking up again until the last days of the campaign. This is why it is so important to start strong and to finish strong. That’s when almost all of your contributors are going to arrive.

Stay Engaged

Thousands of people checked their emails to see what the new rewards would be for Reading Rainbow. Every update brought more people to the campaign page. They might not have always upgraded their contribution amount to a new reward, but the engagement of the campaign kept it at the top of everyone’s mind for the entire month.

Get Others In There

Being able to market a campaign to multiple demographics is extremely important. Reading Rainbow did that by forming relationships and creating rewards that were based on the Top 5 successful Kickstarter campaigns at that time. This brought in other audiences that were willing to contribute to their program and expanded the audience.