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Individual pledges all add up to a crowdfunding success

An Irish initiative has helped a host of projects, from festivals to films, get going, writes Tom Prendiville

FUNDING projects is difficult at the best of times. However, an Irish initiative fund has successfully 100 per cent crowd-financed 275 projects in the past year; projects which otherwise would never have seen the light of day.

Many of the projects range from small festivals to feature films, which, in their own right generate business for the wider community.

In America where the concept of crowdfunding originated, it is estimated that crowdfunded projects have a multiplier effect of seven to one.

Playwright Enda Walsh raised €16,000 via the Fund it route for his award-winning play, Misterman, starring Cillian Murphy. The work toured Ireland and then went on to open in New York and London, creating several theatrical jobs for otherwise unemployed technicians and stage hands.

Galway-based Mary Nally raised funds for the first ever Drop Everything arts, fashion and music festival which was held on windswept Inis Oirr in May.

A rip-roaring success, the three-day event attracted so many visitors that Aer Arann had to lay on extra flights. Delighted islanders estimate that the festival generated €100,000 for the local economy between B&B nights, food, beverages and transport.

However, there is a lot more to crowdfunding than sitting back and watching the cash roll in from benevolent Facebook and Twitter benefactors, as Mary Nally reveals:

"It is definitely hard work and you have to be massively into social media; every day we had to keep in contact with people emailing back and forth to convince them to contribute. It took me five weeks to raise €12,000, but thankfully there is an awful lot of goodwill out there. Overall it was a great experience and the local Inis Oirr people were delighted with the event."

Fund it was co-founded last year by Martin McNicholl and already the company has raised €1m.

"We've had almost 350 projects and three out of every four of them were successfully funded. The average pledge to each project was €54. With crowdfunding, every fiver counts and given that we have had over 17,000 individual pledges, that adds up to a lot," McNicholl said.

"The pledged money is not drawn down unless a project passes 100 per cent of their fundraising goal, and not until their fundraising time has ended.

"Many of the projects are linked to a great festival; we were in Cork recently visiting the fantastic Cork Midsummer Festival and everywhere we looked, we saw projects that had been helped by Fund it.

"Most, if not all, of the projects have a knock-on effect to the economy and, of course, all of the work is done in Ireland in small businesses," added McNicholl.

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The current projects on Fund it are an eclectic mix from a daycare centre in Gowran, Co KiIkenny, who plan to record the memories and recollections of the older people for a forthcoming book, to a walking tour of Dublin's Smithfield which is set to become a permanent tourist fixture.

Individuals who pledge money to projects are not shareholders; what they receive in return is a reward such as an invite to the premiere.

Obviously Fund it has to fund itself and does so by taking a 5 per cent commission on all monies raised.

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