Project Runway

I meet a lot of social entrepreneurs who are just starting out and have the following dilemma.  They are full of energy and creativity, but they don’t have a single tangible project or venture yet that they feel they can commit to.  What they need is the time and freedom to explore the possibilities, brainstorm with a community that believes in them, talk to everyone they can, and get practical experience working on cool projects that their friends are doing, without needing to draw a salary.  What they is need some runway… the modern day equivalent of backpacking around Europe or joining the Peace Corps.

Here’s a quote from Kickstarter, one of my favorite platforms for accelerating possibilities:

Kickstarter is focused on creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. We’re a great way for artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, athletes, adventurers, illustrators, explorers, curators, promoters, performers, and others to bring their projects, events, and dreams to life.

Wouldn’t it be great if the creative project you were getting funded via Kickstarter was YOU?  Would it be possible to raise enough money to pay for your rent, travel and food for, say, the next year while you figure out what you really want to dig into?

As someone who does a lot of social investing and giving I talks to lots of people like myself who would be interested in supporting you in this way.  The thing that’s stopping us right now is (a) we don’t have an extra $30K laying around that we can give you (b) the $1000 (or $100 or $25) that we’d like to contribute to your “runway year” seems like spitting into the ocean.  But if you were running a Kickstarter campaign….

Here’s the challenge though: “Kickstarter is not really for soliciting donations… without a specific goal.”  On the other hand, the kind of people that I’m talking about are all creative enough to frame their runway project appropriately to get it approved.

And really it’s only a matter of time before Kickstarter gets out of beta and loosens up its criteria a bit.  Or maybe one of the many other crowdsource funding platforms being built (like Unreasonable Marketplace) will enable you to have your runway.

Or maybe you will be industrious enough to throw up a web page that simulates a Kickstarter project (without any fancy back-end programming) and solicit pledges for your runway.  And maybe your friends and family and complete strangers will pledge towards your goal.  Maybe I’ll be one of them….