Posted By Jackson
PledgeMe Alumni: James Shaw

PledgeMe has been helpin’ Kiwis fund the things they care about for almost three years now. In that time we’ve had something like 700 successful campaign go up on the site. We’ll be sharing the stories behind some of those successes and sit down with PledgeMe alumni to hear where they are now and how crowdfunding helped them out.

First up is James Shaw!

James Shaw is the Green Party’s newest Member of Parliament. But before he graced our fair country’s halls of power he used PledgeMe to crowdfund! Jackson went and had a chat to James about his project.

PledgeMe: What did you crowdfund?

James Shaw: I crowdfunded my expenses to attend Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project in Chicago. I didn’t get to meet Al Gore, there were about 1200 people from 45 different countries.

PM: Why did you want to go there?

JS: I had an inkling that the training offered something different from what we’ve got in New Zealand already in terms of climate change advocacy. I wanted to learn how to do the presentation. There were only two trainings being offered, one in Chicago and one in Turkey,  and I couldn’t go to the one in Turkey because of something else I was doing, like running an election campaign or something.

PM: Why crowdfund that?

JS: I chose to crowdfund because I knew there was a group of people out there who saw this kind of training would be valuable and knew they would support me to bring it back to New Zealand. Also because PledgeMe’s platform made things a whole lot easier than just doing an email campaign with a bank account number attached.

PM: How’d that campaign go?

JS: It went really successfully. I went 40% over my target! Which was great because I had underestimated my costs.

PM: How did you activate your crowd?

JS: I emailed over 100 people when the campaign went live. I put out an all points broadcast and put up on Facebook and Twitter and all that kind of stuff.

PM: How did you swing the rewards?

JS: When I went into making up the campaign I didn’t have rewards clear in my head. I asked Anna to give me some suggestions. The big one which excited peoples imaginations was the idea that I would do the trip dressed in a panda onesie. Some people did try to put together the $200 to get that reward.

PM: Who would do that? [said in a tone of apparent disbelief that anyone would band together to try and embarrass James]

JS: Who would do that, Jackson?

But it was more the notion and the entertainment value. It made it fun. I had a good spread of rewards, from offering a Climate Reality presentation for you, but the main one was a postcard “signed” by Al Gore, in inverted commas. I found his signature on the internet.

PM: Who would you recommend crowdfunding to?

JS: At one level, anyone who is trying to do something interesting and useful in the world. But more importantly, anyone with a crowd. I think that’s where a lot of people fall over, they think just because something is on the internet it means the money will flow in their general direction.

Crowdfunding provides you with a platform but then you’ve got to activate your crowd. So if you don’t have a crowd, the first thing you’ve gotta do is go get a crowd. No website in the world is going to fix that for you.

You’ve got to go through your personal contacts and be comfortable contacting friends family colleagues and total strangers and asking them for money.

PM: Why PledgeMe?

JS: I didn’t really know much about crowdfunding in NZ or how the platforms work, and I’m not a digital native so I hadn’t really engaged with it before. PledgeMe was able to give personal service and advice to help me.

PM: Anything else you want to say?

JS: I wouldn’t have been able to do it without PledgeMe!

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