The term crowdfunding was coined in 2006, with France’s gift of the Statue of Liberty to the US in 1885 being cited as an example.
When the US failed to provide the necessary funding to build a base for the statue, the New York World newspaper launched a campaign for donations from the public to complete the project.
Perhaps the most well-known instance of crowdfunding in Taiwan occurred during the Sunflower movement in 2014. To let the world know what was happening in Taiwan, a group of young Taiwanese caused a sensation when they ran a full-page advertisement in the New York Times that had been financed through an online crowdfunding platform.
In addition to social movements, anything from music and movies to high-tech products can also obtain public financial support via the Internet.
As fundraisers rely on crowdfunding to implement projects or develop their products, one special characteristic of the method is that donors are happy to see the realization of an ideal or a dream that they have been involved in.
Several crowdfunding platforms are available in Taiwan, such as FlyingV, Zeczec and WeBackers. Social movement projects are often proposed on FlyingV, while most creative projects, such as music, movie, photography, publication, illustration, fashion and technology, are proposed on Zeczec and WeBackers.
However, as the crowdfunding concept has not matured in Taiwan, Taiwanese fundraisers can also launch crowdfunding campaigns on US platforms such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, which allow them to raise funds from across the world, thus increasing their chance of success.
After seeing the opportunities that innovation and crowdfunding offer, then-US president Barack Obama signed the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act into law in 2012.
Title III of the law is known as the “Crowdfund Act,” which encourages and protects innovation and crowdfunding in the US.
This act not only makes dreams come true, it also creates job opportunities.
As Taiwan’s current environment is relatively unfavorable to start-ups, new companies and young entrepreneurs can use crowdfunding to obtain capital.
For example, someone in the film industry could promote a project on a platform and donors could then receive the finished product or other kinds of feedback according to the size of their donation.
The fundraiser could promote and present their plan, the project’s timeline, movie trailers, ads, feedback plans and so on in order to highlight the value of the product.
As there is only one chance for crowdfunding once a project has been proposed on a platform, the creator must be well prepared ahead of time and make a great effort to promote the project during the whole process to be able to successfully raise funds and market the project.
The crowdfunding process is a bit like a presale activity, as it tests the market at the same time as it cultivates the unity and business operating ability of the project team.
Meanwhile, the fundraiser can also sell related merchandise to boost consumption and thus help stimulate the economy.
The government should take a thorough look at crowdfunding and encourage it to create a virtuous crowdfunding cycle.
Belinda Hsieh is vice chairwoman of Black Dragon Movie Corp.
Translated by Eddy Chang