The Statue of Liberty was Crowdfunded

So you knew crowdfunding is not actually a new idea. It was, after all, used already for years in the music and movie industry.

But did you know that it dates way beyond that. Even The Statue of Libertyin New York was in a way “crowdfunded”. The statue was a gift to the United States from the people of France. They agreed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site.

But the Americans ran out of money.

Here’s the story…

The price tag for building the pedestal and erecting the Statue topped $300,000. The American Committee raised half this sum between 1877 and 1884. Then a crisis occurred: the Statue was due to arrive, funds had run out, and work on the pedestal stopped. In March 1885, publisher Joseph Pulitzer and his newspaper, The World, came to the rescue with a highly successful six-month fund raising campaign.

As it turned out, a lot of people were willing to donate money for this project. Many of them having an emotional binding to the things the statue was to represent.

The response to Joseph Pulitzer’s campaign was overwhelming – $100,000 (the equivalent of $2.3 million today) was donated in just five months. Much of it came in gifts of one dollar or less. In addition to raising money, Pulitzer’s campaign helped to make the point that Statue was not just for New York, but for all America.

What can we learn from this?

  1. A project featuring an emotional element, easily attachable by the masses, has all chances raising money with the crowdfunding.
  2. Thanks to the Internet, even a project with an appeal to a narrower audience can raise the amount needed due to more global reach.
  3. Even though we like to think about crowdfunding as a model for share issues, also other compensation models can work.
  4. We should never underestimate the importance of willingness of people to express themselves – let it be the letters published by each funder of The Liberty, or the interest of even small shareholders to help a company they have a stake in.

Like The Statue of Liberty, also Venture Bonsai will be enlightening the world.

Just think about all the possibilities it will open up – do you want to be part of that?

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