Why I don't "Crowdfund" or use Kickstarter

Heidi Rettig's Faux leopard coat and vintage bag.

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with mood sprays or crowd funding. I just wanted to show you my vintage faux leopard coat and the red bag I bought in Paris fifteen years ago.

Now, on to the point:

Every once in awhile a friend will ask me why I don't put the Anti-Bad-Mood Sprays on Kickstarter. I have vision for my products beyond what you see here (mostly marketing and sample sizes) but it's tough to leverage the cash to make some of those dreams come true.The crowdfunding concept is attractive and Kickstarter's success stories would make any entrepreneur want to try for the gold.

But here's what I've learned after working in philanthropy: there's no such thing as "free money." Here's another thing I've learned from a decade of helping nonprofits raise money: You can ask for money but you can only ask one time. No - really.

Think of it this way and your successful grant applications will noticeably increase: If you have just one opportunity to connect with a funding source - are you ready? Can you present a carefully thought out idea (you would be surprised how many people believe that a casual social relationship with a funder will be more important than have an actual idea to discuss.) Does your work fit the donor's funding interests? Is it a quality product? Will you pursue the goal with or without funders' support? Do you have the skills to pull any of it off? Because if you're not ready even though you swore you would be then you can't ask again. If you do get the money then you have a set of responsibilities to the donor. Are you prepared for that?

So much energy goes into the creative presentation of ideas - that's a truly beautiful thing and crowd funders do that really well. Where it often falls apart is on delivery. Because happens when you accept support but your end product is just, kind of..."meh"...? What happens when the idea never comes to fruition? That's powerful information you're sending to your community of supporters about your products and your abilities to pull it off. Botch it and you'll never be able to ask again.

If you've given support to more than one Kickstarter project the chances are you've received something pretty average in return. Okay, it's a gamble and not every gamble pays off. But would you give money to that entrepreneur again? Or just look for someone else the next time around?

Also, my experience has been that people get tired of the "ask." How many times have you received an email from a cause promising that they'll never ask you for money again? Never is as long as it takes for the next email to arrive, just a couple of months later. Like a guy on the street corner with a cup out - passerby eventually become indifferent to his plight. In the case of nonprofit arts, I don't think that your email list makes any distinction between the tickets you're selling as an "ask" and the quarterly plea for donations. An "ask" is an "ask." They will become indifferent to repeated requests. So what do you want the most from them? Ask for that. One time.

I don't crowd fund because I'd rather just sell you my truly beautiful thing - my Mood Sprays - because I am pretty confident you will enjoy the scent, the luxury packaging, and the humor on the labels. If you enjoy them you will return to the website for more. Mood Sprays are a real idea, in the marketplace, for real-time feedback. And the feedback and support from customers is incredibly satisfying. (Best "starter" mood spray for the novice user: Apathy - smells like fresh-peeled grapefruit!)

I so appreciate my relationships with the folks who have taken a chance on my products - it has been wonderful to get to know all of you and your candor over the past two years has helped me refine the project in so many important ways. Good reviews give me energy for the next steps. Thank you!

I feel good about every box I ship - I've hand-blended every bottle and I know that if it smells good enough for me it smells good enough for you. So, I guess from that point of view, I could feel confident about putting my work up on a crowd funding site. But honestly - it feels so much better when you buy Mood Sprays just because you enjoy them! Thanks for listening.

[steps off soapbox]

Heidi

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