Kickstarter Fail. Defining Culture as Brunch


A local café in my city recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to move from one crummy old house to a slightly newer one, though with more space and (presumably) less apt to fall apart or burn to the ground. They also want to add a proper bar for $5 coffee drinks and $7 local beer. Good for them – businesses should and must grow with the times. Let me preface this little rant by saying that I deeply enjoy brunch on the weekends, and our café in question is a regular part of my rotation of local spots to enjoy poached eggs, salmon and arugula on a Saturday morning.

You know the spot I mean. The kind of place where a couple will spend $30 plus tip on breakfast and hang out with childless libertines and the hipster young professionals into the early afternoon, enjoying City Life. $30+ for breakfast for two. Small batch coffee, free range eggs, elf grown kale, and locally smoked bacon where the pig had the run of a 100 acres with kittens as friends.

Love it. Happy to pay my $30 weekly. I live simply and save my pennies but for Brunch on the weekend and travels around the world. But ain’t no way I am donating money to their Kickstarter page. In fact, I am offended by the proposition. Have a look for yourself:

I wish this little café all the best and sincerely hope they can find resources to fund their relocation so that I can continue to pay premium pricing for my Sunday outings. But claiming a legitimate funding case does a disservice to all the organizations and artists in pursuit of creative funding for true cultural entrepreneurship.

 “Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects” – From the Kickstarter FAQ page.

Brunch is simply not a creative project. It isn’t. I see the best potential in crowd sourcing for small projects and individual artists to find investment and support of creative output: books, music, films, artistic happenings. Individual artists have the hardest path to walk in finding support of their efforts. Most institutional funders and grantmakers specifically prohibit supporting artists leaving individual patrons and consumers to buy tickets, paintings and make small personal grants via platforms like Kickstarter.

Increasingly consumers see dining as a cultural experience and in the arts we are now competing with brewpubs and artisanal fig plates but unless there is some legitimate cultural development attached to supper I take exception to this notion of a cultural, community Good coming out of a for profit restaurant.

The organizers of this funding campaign make no effort to even suggest that they play a meaningful role in the cultural life of the community, simply that they are moving and want their customers to pitch in so that, what exactly? We can pay for our meals at the new digs? Mimosas? Perhaps instead find some investors and present your business plan. Leave Kickstarter to the Artists.

These are nice people with their heart in the right place but I don’t know what irritates me more – that they don’t even try to suggest that there is a larger cultural good in their effort or the implication that a café is of itself of such obvious value that it doesn’t even need to be described.

Consider this as a warming as you strengthen your philanthropic case for support this summer in advance of fall fundraising:

1. Don’t assume your case is understood or relevant. Test it.

2. Define a community need and how you are specifically and meaningfully engaged in solving it.

3. Offer meaningful involvement and benefit to supporters who step up. Don’t even get me started on a café offering a t-shirt for a $100 “gift”.

 4. Meet me for Brunch to share the good story. I know a place.


About jeremymhatch

If I could, I'd write about nothing but tacos. Alas, I am fundraising and leadership consultant in the arts, focusing on contributed revenue growth for organizations. Send me a compliment or complaint. And the location for the good tacos in your town.
This entry was posted in Cultural Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Kickstarter Fail. Defining Culture as Brunch

  1. Pingback: The 7 days of Week 52. End the (fundraising) Fiscal Year With Tacos. | artful fund raiser

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