TED India fundraising update

As you are probably aware, I am trying to raise funds so I can go to TED India. I’ve reached 9% of the target so far, which is 6 times as much as reached in my previous campaign. The experience has already been invaluable.
First, there was the blog post. As you can see, the number of new views dropped very rapidly after a few days:
Blog post views

This is not the full story, because I also tweeted a direct link to the Pledgie campaign site. That’s been viewed 182 times, but I don’t know if those are all unique views.
Not quit viral so far, I’m looking for other ways to spread the word.
I’m worried that it will be hard to convince people who have never met me to invest the money. That may turn out to be the bottleneck, but that’s just a theory.  At the current level of exposure it’s too early to tell.
I need to define my target audience. So far donations have come from friends who know me and TED. Their interest in Life Hacking and the fact that they have jobs probably also helps.
I suspect my target audience is TED fans with above average income, into the Web 2.0 startup scene. Age group 23-35. How to reach that audience?
Last weekend I tried to create a StumbleUpon campaign as advised in this talk by Tim Ferriss. Unfortunately the campaign got rejected. They don’t allow fundaising in their paid ads. I understand their reasoning, although I do think StumbleUpon would be a great platform for fundraising.
I quickly looked at Google Ads, but I figured those only make sense if someone is already looking for what I’m doing, which I think is unlikely. Also, what keywords would I use? And would using TED as (part of) a keyword cause any trademark issues?
Of course, fundraising sites do get stumbled occasionally, just not through paid ads. So if you like my campaign, please do stumble it.
My attention was drawn to Just Giving. That site is not available to me as I’m not an official charity nor am I based in the UK. However, it triggered me to search for more generic fundraising platforms.
That search quickly took me to Social Actions, with which I was already familiar thanks to this Google Tech Talk. It lists approximately 50 platforms from which it aggregates data.
I went through a bunch of them, but found that many were not suitable for several reasons:

  • one specific subject (e.g. climate change, politics, human rights). TED is a very broad conference.
  • specific region (e.g. micro loans to China). I live in The Netherlands.
  • focus on collaboration (about team building) : I do not need a team to go to TED, I only need money.
  • focus on poor people : I am not poor, but TED is very expensive. It’s within reach for me, but the timing couldn’t be worse.
  • focus on “official” charities or non-profits: I am not an official charity and I am not a non-profit.
  • the platform itself is for-profit or has high transaction costs: not necessarily a show stopper

Despite that, I did find two suitable platforms:

  1. You can add #takeaction to your tweet and Social Actions will pick it up. I did that and it actually got retweeted by @IndiaActions.
  2. Change Agents. I’ve signed up for that.

Going through all 50+ platforms sounded like a lot of work, so I decided to combine this with another experiment: outsourcing. I sent a list of about 15 platforms to Ask Sunday, together with a short description and link to my campaign, the above list of criteria and my target audience.
They concluded that none of these platforms were suitable. I then asked them to repeat the analysis for the rest of the platforms and they concluded the same. I’m inclined to agree. Did they miss anything?
I thought about suggesting to TED that they make a platform themselves, where TEDsters with money surplus could “hire” TEDsters with time surplus to work towards TED goals. TED could act as a filter, because they screen participants. They could also process payments as ticket discounts, guaranteeing that the funds go towards attending the conference.
Then again, although it would have some benefits, this kind of collaboration can also take place on existing platforms. I need to think about this a bit more.
So what’s next?
Maybe I should build my own platform?
I’m contemplating sending proposals to certain organizations of prototypes I could build for them. But I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with such a direct approach.
91% to go, but you’ll agree with me that this has been a useful learning experience already.


    1. Bedoel je TEDx?
      Daar wil ik ook graag heen; is anderhalve week voor TEDIndia en ik heb mijn vlucht zo georganiseerd dat ik er tijd voor heb.
      TEDx overigens niet hetzelfde als TED; het is een zelf-georganiseerde (en gratis) bijeenkomst, waarin je TED filmpjes en eigen presentaties bekijkt en bespreekt.
      Ik heb in Melbourne de eerste georganiseerd.

      1. Dat wil zeggen, niet in mijn eentje natuurlijk. Verder is de schaal van TEDx Amsterdam een stuk groter als ik het zo zie. Ben erg benieuwd.

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