Crowd-funding: Perks

In my previous post, I talked about the crowd-funding campaign that is currently trying to raise money for Nerd HQ. One thing that I didn’t talk about in that post was the fact that shortly after Zachary Levi started the crowd-funding campaign, there was a lot of negative backlash. Several bloggers and podcasters started ripping Levi as if he was some villain that was trying to steal money from his fans. One of the main problems that a lot of these people had was that the campaign had no reward structure. Most crowd-funding campaigns usually have multiple tiers of perks that give a t-shirt or a poster or something if you contribute a certain amount of money to the campaign. The Nerd HQ campaign, on the other hand, does not offer any perks because they feel that the best perk they can give is the event itself, and if they were to offer any perks, those perks would cost money and take a lot of time, both of which could be put towards making Nerd HQ a better event.

This brings me to a point that applies to much more than just the Nerd HQ campaign. Crowd-funding (in it’s current form at least) is a fairly new idea, but the vast majority of these campaigns have offered perks. These perks have made people warp the idea of what the purpose of a crowd-funding campaign should be. If someone is crowd-funding a movie, people should contribute to that campaign because they want to see that movie get made. They shouldn’t contribute because they want a t-shirt with the movie’s logo on it. If the goal was to just give contributors cool little perks in return for their donation, then they should just start an Etsy store and sell the things that they’re giving away as perks in the store. It’s called a donation for a reason. If you donated to the Red Cross, would you expect the Red Cross to give you something in return for your donation?

I have contributed to crowd-funding campaigns before and was asked to select a reward tier. Not long ago I actually contributed to a campaign for a web-show that was trying to raise money to make their third season, and for contributing, I get my name in the credits for every episode of the season, a digital download of every episode as they are released, and I also get a small box full of little items and trinkets related to the show. These perks are cool, and I’m looking forward to getting them. However, I didn’t contribute so I could get those perks. I contributed because I’m a fan of the show, and I want them to make a third season. In fact if it meant that they could have a bigger budget and create a better show, I would rather not get those perks. This is the same reason that I contributed to the Nerd HQ campaign.

I have enjoyed the live streams of celebrity panels that they have been provided for the last three years (which no one else does), and I want them to be able to continue doing that. Not to mention all of the other awesome stuff that happens at the event that I hope to enjoy one day when I’m no longer a lowly grad student and can afford to take a weekend trip to San Diego. That’s why I contributed. If anyone doesn’t believe that having access to approximately 25 hours of un-moderated celebrity panels every year is worth a $5 donation, then don’t donate, but I have a problem with people who feel like their being robbed because they aren’t getting a t-shirt in return for their donation. If you want a t-shirt, buy a t-shirt.

If you want to learn more about the Nerd HQ campaign, you can visit the campaign page here, and you can hear Zachary Levi address some of the negative reaction that the campaign received here. And just for fun, here’s a video of some highlights from some of the panels that have been at Nerd HQ over the last three years:

I Want My Nerd HQ

In case you are unaware, there is currently a crowd-funding campaign going on right now that is trying to raise money for this year’s Nerd HQ. If you know what Nerd HQ is, then you know how awesome it is, and you’ve probably already contributed to the campaign. If you don’t know what Nerd HQ is, then my hope is that I will be able to tell you a little about it, and I will spark your interest enough for you to contribute as well.

Nerd HQ is an event that has been happening for the last three years in San Diego during San Diego Comic-Con (Nerd HQ is not affiliated with SDCC). This event has been provided by actor Zachary Levi (known for the TV show Chuck, the voice of Flynn Rider in Tangled, and portraying Fandral in Thor: The Dark World) and his company The Nerd Machine, which is an apparel company that was founded to be a “Nike for Nerds” (http://www.thenerdmachine.com). Nerd HQ is essentially a more intimate, less corporate version of San Diego Comic-Con. Best of all, nearly everything at Nerd HQ is free with the exception of tickets to the panels, known as “Conversations for a Cause,” (that go for about $20 per ticket) as well as some celebrity photo-ops and signings, all of which go 100% toward the charity Operation Smile. If you want to know a little more about what Nerd HQ is like, then check out this video of highlights from Nerd HQ 2013:

Some of you may be in a situation similar to mine. I live on the other side of the country from San Diego, and I’m a lowly grad student with no chance of taking a weekend trip to California. If this situation is similar to yours, then you might be asking yourself why you should care about some awesome event that you’re not going to be able to attend. Well, remember those “Conversations for a Cause” that I told you about. These panels are streamed live online as they are happening. Plus, the panels are then all archived on The Nerd Machine’s YouTube channel. The panels are intimate, un-moderated, hour-long panels where celebrities (which have included Joss Whedon, Vin Diesel, Nathan Fillion, Stan Lee, Jared Padalecki, Evangeline Lilly, Tom Hiddleston, Yvonne Strahovski, and many others) answer questions from fans. Since they don’t have a moderator, unlike all of the huge panels at SDCC, you don’t just get the bland, scripted questions. You might even get something like Tom Hiddleston impersonating a velociraptor from Jurassic Park.

This brings us to the crowd-funding campaign. For the last 3 years, Zachary Levi has fronted the money for this event mostly from his own pocket and reimbursed himself once sponsorship dollars came through. But, last year he had some sponsors that dropped out at the last minute, and he took a big financial loss. This is why he is asking for help funding this event this year. It would probably be better if I just let you hear it from Zach himself.

As he says in the video, he’s not asking you to give a huge chunk of money. He’s simply asking for $5, and if you want to give more, then feel free to give more. Even if you can’t go to San Diego for Nerd HQ, I think having access to all of the live streams of panels from the event is worth $5.

If you are looking for another reason that this campaign deserves your contribution, I would suggest learning a little bit more about Zachary Levi as a person. He is quite possibly the most kind-hearted and genuine person in all of Hollywood. He goes out of his way to give back to his fans. He has even said that one of the main motivations behind Nerd HQ in the first place was to break down that barrier between fans and celebrities that is created at big events like SDCC. He’s not trying to take money from anyone. I would be willing to bet that, if it were possible, he would just bankroll the entire event himself, but he just doesn’t have the money to do that.

If you would like to contribute to Nerd HQ or learn more about the event, visit their Indiegogo campaign page, and if you need some more convincing that this is worth $5, visit their YouTube page and watch some of their videos from the last 3 years. I’ve already contributed to the campaign once, and if I can afford it, I might contribute some more before the campaign is over.