Crowdfunding actually came about – was kickstarted, if you like – a long time ago. Way back in the 1700s, some of the earliest instances of crowdfunding were set in motion. These experiences were far removed from today’s instantaneous, online funding projects, but did have some elements in common with its modern-day counterparts.
In a way similar to the current reward and donation crowdfunding idea used by various sites today, Alexander Pope looked for backers to support the translation of 15,693 lines of ancient Greek poetry into English. Five years later, he achieved his goal. It turned out to be worthwhile; that translation of Homer’s Iliad lives on today.
In keeping with the modern idea of donation and reward, in which donors receive some sort of “reward” or thank you gesture for donating to a scheme, contributors to the translation project were acknowledged at the beginning of the book and offered an early edition of the completed work. The 750 participants who contributed two gold guineas were listed in an early edition.
Towards the end of the same century, Mozart invited backers to support his wish to perform three piano concertos in a concert hall in Vienna, offering them manuscripts in return. His first attempt in 1783 was unsuccessful, but his following initiative, a year later, attracted the support of 176 backers, to whom he gave his thanks in the manuscript.
It’s interesting to see how far crowdfunding dates back, and how similar their ideas were to the modern-day equivalents, that have now become part of our everyday business vocabulary.