Crowdfunding a Conference?

An email conversation with Gez Smith reminded me of something today that has been rattling around in the back of my head for a while. Since Kickstarter launched in the UK I’ve had this vague idea about whether it could be used to take some of the risk out of organising some kind of event.

I have a bit of a bi-polar relationship with running events – I find them hugely stressful but also incredibly satisfying. The Bettr conference I ran at the start of 2011 almost broke me but Gov:West this year was actually a pretty fun experience and a big part of that was because alot of the risk was by-passed as the event was a part of the wider Bath Digital Festival. This meant that the venue was sorted from day one which allowed me to concentrate on the fun stuff like inviting great speakers and sorting the post-event beers!

I wonder if you could use Kickstarter to raise enough in advance to ensure the venue was paid for and that speaker expenses were covered through a mix of ‘pledges’ (from get a ticket, to micro-sponsorship etc). Venues can get be reserved for a spell usually before full payment is required so on some practical level it is probably possible. I’m guessing you’d need to have a few speakers lined up in advance to encourage people to sign up as well?

A quick scan of Kickstarter suggests a few people have already been down this road so there is something of a template to follow and I certainly think Bristol has room for another event in the calendar.

I think you can probably tell I am thinking this through as I write this! I am not even sure what kind of conference it would be – I am murder when it comes to coming up with conference ideas – have as many of them as I do useless domains 🙂 Though assuming my career doesn’t take a radical change in direction I would imagine something about digital and the public sector would be most sensible.

I wouldn’t be in a position to do anything about the idea til April anyway but hopefully this will stand as a reminder to revisit the idea then!

5 responses to “Crowdfunding a Conference?”

  1. funnily enough when I ‘Googled’ the idea to see if anyone had done something I could shamelessly copy all I found were conferences about ‘crowdsourcing’ usually with the word ‘monetize’ close by!

  2. I think the advantage with something like Kickstarter is that if you don’t make your target you don’t receive the money and thus aren’t on the hook for all the refunds etc!

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