Matthew Inman has stumbled upon – and now seized on – something extremely interesting: people who like and support a brand throw money at causes it celebrates. Earlier this year, the creator of theOatmeal.com saw an impressive out-pouring of support for his irreverent response to a frivolous lawsuit. (Read the story here) He didn’t stop at that. Using the same fundraising mechanism, indiegogo.com, Inman raised $900,000 in the span of a few weeks, to build a museum recognizing the work of Nikola Tesla. Inman had previously produced a comic comparing Tesla and Edison, objecting to the sanctified treatment that Edison receives, in comparison to Tesla’s relative obscurity.
What comes out of this is a really significant message to a new wave of fundraising, pioneered by sites such as Kickstarter and indiegogo, wherein creative ideas fight for exposure and popular ones are funded by a broad community of small-increment donations. A good idea, a good design, and some good social marketing and private funding is suddenly an option as an alternative to a business loan or single investor.