Mobility International USA (MIUSA) is a non-profit organization with an idea for a product.
They know they have a good idea—a striking, full-color book of 50 portraits of inspirational women with disabilities from 41 countries, taken by some of the world’s most talented photographers—but because MIUSA is a non-profit organization, they not only face all the usual difficulties of launching a new product, but also the particular difficulty of launching a product they don’t intend to sell. MIUSA wants the book to be available for purchase, of course, but their primary goal is to give the book away to people who can’t afford to buy it, such as disability rights groups in developing countries.
“Really, we just want their stories to get out to the world,” said Suz Dunn, who is organizing the project. But “it costs at least $5,000 just to print the book, and we also had to account for shipping costs to send the books overseas.”
MIUSA already has the portraits, which were taken pro-bono by world-renowned photographers Paola Gianturco, Darcy Kiefel and Brian Lanker (whose 1989 “I Dream A World” exhibit was the inspiration for MIUSA’s book), and the book already has a title: “Brilliant & Resilient”, an apt description of the women profiled within. What MIUSA doesn’t have is the money to print the book.
Because funding for “Brilliant & Resilient” would so uniquely straddle the line between donations and sales, MIUSA CEO Susan Sygall opted to seek business consult from Sabrina Parsons, the CEO of Palo Alto Software and an expert in business planning.
“I loved the book,” Parsons said. “Anyone would love the book—it’s incredibly well-done. And I told them, ‘You should do a Kickstarter campaign. People will definitely want to back this.’”
So, Sygall and Dunn decided to put the book’s fate into the hands of the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, where anyone with an Amazon account can pledge financial support for the project. “Backers” can pledge any amount they wish greater than $1, but backers that pledge certain amounts receive “thank you” gifts: a $25 pledge, for example, is thanked with a MIUSA bumper sticker and a personal shout out on MIUSA’s Facebook page, and a $100 pledge is thanked with a copy of “Brilliant & Resilient” and a ticket to the August 2013 book launch party in Eugene.
Kickstarter campaigns carry expiration dates, and the MIUSA campaign’s is July 19, 2013. If by that date the “Brilliant & Resilient” Kickstarter hasn’t received the entire $10,000 budget that MIUSA is trying to raise, the organization won’t receive any of the donations pledged, and none of the backers will be charged nor will they receive their thank you gifts.
Will this dedicated non-profit get their product to market? 10 days’ time will tell. You can pledge your support here.