Statue of Liberty, The First Crowdfunding Project Ever

crowdfunding first projectCrowdfunding, Not a Modern Thing

For most people, crowdfunding has been something that has come to the fore in the last few years. Stories of electric bikes, lego cars, solar powered TVs, 3D Printers etc have all made the news for being projects financed through crowdfunding.

However, crowdfunding is not a modern thing.

In 1885 the Statue of Liberty stood in a series of pieces at a harbour in New York. With the city governor refusing to use state funds to complete the construction, Joseph Pulitzer used his newspaper ‘The New York World’ to start a campaign to raise funds for the statue to be completed.

The First Crowdfunding Campaign



It was with this newspaper article that the first crowdfunding campaign was launched. Within 5 months the campaign had raised $101k which exceeded the $100k target to complete the works. The ‘crowd’ consisted of over 160,000 people with most donations being less than $1.

Why Another 125 Years?

The success of this campaign, and the potential to widen things to other projects was tempered by the fact that not everyone owned a newspaper. The ability to ‘spread the message’ did not exist, the ability to manage the donated funds did not exist.

With the rise of social media and an IT infrastructure to enable projects to be both promoted and managed, crowdfunding has now become a very mainstream option for financing all types of business proposal.

If The Statue of Liberty Was Built Today

In essence few things would be different, simply swap ‘New York World’ for ‘Kickstarter‘, ‘Crowdcube’ or any other crowdfunding site. Today the choice of which platform to use is driven by the proposal and how it will work (there are clear differences between Kickstarter and Crowdcube models).

To give you an idea of just how big Kickstarter has got;

  • 2.2 million people pledged money to Kickstarter projects last year
  • The 18,109 successful campaigns of 2012 raised $274m

Crowdfunding Your Business

Even if you are not thinking of building a statue outside of New York, crowdfunding can offer options for financing your business.

Don’t think of crowdfunding as being anything new, it has been around over 125 years. It is simply that until now there has been no medium to make it available to everyday business owners.

For any questions about crowdfunding then get in touch here or add your comments to the reply button above.

By Dave Farmer

Ref  – BBC Magazine 25/4/14


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