Real learning is a part of the work, not apart from it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Kickstart a Speaker

As former President and now a current board member of our local chapter of ASTD I am always seeking ways to support the growth of our members. Offering prominent speakers who present or lead workshops is a great way to accelerate that growth. The problem is getting these thought leaders to come here to Syracuse, NY.  No, it's not because of our reputation for terrible weather but more that we are a smaller community of learning professionals and therefore funds are hard to come by. These presenters/speakers deserve every dime but payment and travel reimbursement can get into the thousands and that's hard to get budgeted for.  

By Pbroks13 (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Our current approach like most is to go after corporate sponsors for larger (500.00) donations. In exchange they get advertising space on our Website and a logo in our brochure.  Again this is Syracuse and unless its a mom and pop business most don't gain very much from our local advertising.  I've contemplated a long tail approach and wondered openly with the likes of Helen Blunden and Joyce Seitzinger if we might have more success chasing many smaller donors vs. a few larger ones. Can we crowdfund a speaker?

The Kickstarter model caught my attention. 3 simple steps really:

1. Identify the funds needed
2. Set a drop dead date to achieve funds (30 days?)
3. Promote like crazy

If the funding deadline isn't met by the set date, then all funds returned.  This comes with problems though as speakers have lives and multiple commitments. They need to know and have firm dates locked in as this is part of their livelihood. When would one need to know the event is a go or not? The organization too needs to schedule and plan for events. If you get funding then you need to scramble to ensure you've got a venue, a date and time, etc.

What about bigger donors?  In the Kickstarter model they get a perk that the project team dreams up. Either they get the product earlier or cheaper if funded. So if someone gave more than most,  what perk is worthy of doing so? An exclusive breakfast or lunch with the speaker? Is the speaker OK with that?!  If the speaker is an author, maybe a free signed book or two (Which could be rolled into the cost)? 

If you're a speaker, could this work for you? What haven't I considered?  If your an organization, have you done this or entertained the idea?  I'd like to learn more about the approaches out there.

Here's a list of crowd funding services from that give you ideas on the approaches to products, services and charity efforts.

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