Alexander Pope is perhaps one of the earliest users of crowdfunding which can also be termed as kickstarter. He succeeded in completing a project on the translation of Greek poetry into English. Kickstarter has evolved from as early as the 17th century when crowdfunding was used for pooling of funds to finance printing services and certain benefits credited to those who donated for these activities. The project on translation of the Greek poetry enables us get an overview of the first developments in crowdfunding and the basics that form its modern structure of operation.
A year into the project Pope had a detailed approach to the task laid down. It offered the guideline on how the work was to be completed and first on it was that it was to be printed in six volumes and on fine paper. In exchange for some benefits, 750 people pledged support by offering gold guineas before the project kicked off. The benefit they were to receive was acknowledgement through being listed in an early edition of the book. In the ancient times credit for certain donations or charitable actions was highly valued by the Medici and Monarchs. Among the ancient projects funded by people was the da Vinci’s The Last Supper which was supported by the Duke of Milan and the painting of the ceiling of Sistine chapel by Michelangelo. As compared to these pledges Alexandra Pope’s work attracted a wider audience and it marked the first big step towards modern crowdfunding.
In 1783 Mozart also published invitations to supporters for his performance in Viennese concert hall. In return he offered manuscripts as a reward to those who supported his piano concertos. His publication stated that the three concertos which were performed with full orchestra would be available in April to those who subscribed for them. It will be noted that not all kickstarters achieve their objectives as Mozart first failed to reach his target during the first attempt. He however later succeeded with 176 supporters a year later and thanked his supporters in the concertos manuscripts.
Joseph Pulitzer launched the most notable project that saw kickstarter take a huge step towards what it is today. He offered rewards to his supporters through his newspaper and the statue of liberty pedestal project which was to be given as a present to the United States received 120,000 pledges from people around the world. For every $1 one would get a six inch model of the statue of liberty. It has been a major subject of experiment in trying to understand the difference between the old models and the modern methods of crowdfunding. It will be noted that both the first and middle major events of kickstarter offer a clear development overview of crowdfunding.
In conclusion one would not fail to note that the difference arising here is the availability of the web as a medium of communication in the modern world as compared to publications in the past where most of the supporters were not reached by newspapers or letters.