If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I’m constantly encouraging people and organizations engaged in civic campaigns to diversify: their coalition, their targets, and – most importantly of all – their methods.

Well, this week I’m focusing on an organization that is doing exactly that, capitalizing on a new, increasingly popular online fundraising model to raise funds for a vitally important project they’re spearheading.  The organization is the Women and Girls Foundation, and the model is their ongoing Kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000 for the completion of their new documentary about female presidential leadership.  It’s called Madame Presidentá: Why Not U.S.?, and it focuses on the election of Brazil’s first female president to take a close look at the prospect and potential of a female President of the United States.

First of all, some shameless full disclosure: I’m a board member for WGF, and I’m also helping them hit that 25K mark by sponsoring a “fundraising day” for the project on Friday, June 21.  The goal is for me to help raise $1,000 for the project in a 24 hour period.  You can get more info and donate in a matter of seconds by clicking right here.

However, in addition to my personal reasons for wanting to drum up support for such a great project, I think that there’s a lot that civic campaign leaders can take away from the effort, specifically its use of the website Kickstarter.com.  Kickstarter has been around since 2009, but if it’s new to you, here’s a quick overview.

Kickstarter is an online crowd funding tool, meaning that it essentially allows anyone with a few bucks and a piqued interest to become a venture capitalist of sorts for creative projects.  Musicians who need a little help to get that new record made; artists who need to raise a little capital to produce that new line of vinyl figurines; entrepreneurs who need a little help to get their grand idea past the prototype stage – all of them can turn use Kickstarter to ask the very people who would benefit from their project to chip in a little money.

But here’s the “kicker,” if you’ll pardon the pun – if the project doesn’t reach its goal, everybody gets their money back.  Essentially, you can only invest your money in a winning prospect.  If it doesn’t hit its mark, everyone walks away – no harm, no foul.

Obviously, though, the goal is to hit the mark, and when a project reaches its goal, everyone gets something from their investment – whether it’s a signed t-shirt, a meal with their favorite band or artist, or a crack at the first production run of the new product they just supported.

In the case of documentaries like Madame Presidentá, investors get to make sure that a film about something that is very near and dear to their hearts doesn’t sputter out due to the weight of production costs.  In essence, they become a part of the work they want to see created – in this case, literally, since donors of more than $100 get their name in the credits.

This sense of engagement, of feeling like you’re truly part of something important, something bigger than yourself – this is the benefit of creative fundraising outlets like Kickstarter, and the immediacy and tangibility of that benefit is something that is made possible by crowd sourcing in the internet age.

I applaud the Women and Girls Foundation for thinking getting creative when it came to funding this vital project, and I think civic campaigners from all walks of life could learn a lot from their efforts.  After all, sometimes thinking outside the box means digging into a box of a whole different type – a toolbox.