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A Burner Guide to Crowdfunding

By Ria Greiff

If you beg for it, they will come.

Burners seeking to bring art to the Playa have turned to the Internet to raise funds, opting in droves for crowdsourcing sites that offer several approaches to appealing to the masses who have extra cash to spare. The differing rules matter because they attract varying classes of donors and have different requirements for those looking for dough.

You might think that the Burning Man organization would offer guidance on which to pick. It does — sort of. The official statement is, “Create a fundraising project on whichever crowdfunding service best meets your needs.”

As your resident Burner from the trenches, I parsed them a bit for you.

Kickstarter is more of an innovation platform. Artists, designers, inventors, or any variation of that trifecta, can be found here. They also have been vetted, which saves time sifting through MOOP, because Kickstarter only accepts 60% of its submissions, and if the project fails to achieve its funding goal, you are given your money back instead of a coaster depicting a defunct BM project. I’d rather get Playa Dust in my metal cup than have that depressing thing next to my futon in my tent as I slightly shiver in the desert night.

Kickstarter remains one of the most-well-known platforms, however, because it was one of the first players on the block, along with its indie-headed step-sister, Indiegogo.

Indiegogo is like the Deep Playa. Anything goes. Do what you want, take whatever it will give you; additionally, like the Deep Playa, there is so much out there that you are bound to miss something (bet you didn’t see the stationary bikes in 2017). If not fully funded, an artist can take the money and run on Indiegogo. Artists are free to use the cash they receive to put a tutu on a giant flamingo on Tuesday. To assuage any trepidation a patron may have in donating to a project, an artist can keep their integrity over their greenbacks, by setting up the campaign to be an all-or-none type of scenario, as is the rule at Kickstarter. Not fully funded, no gargantuan avian tutu.

The newest darling with a super catchy name is GoFundMe. Like, “Go Fuck Yourself.” Don’t even try to tell me you haven’t said that aloud when looking at some of those campaigns! Go Fund Me is exactly that, a platform for financing personal causes. You will find individuals or a group try to raise some funds to bring their art car to BM, or construction of some camp structure. I wouldn’t look for tantalizing projects on GoFundMe unless you desire to help a Sparkle Pony lose his Burginity. If he doesn’t get fully funded however, he is not required to go the full monty while pocketing the small change he collected.

There is one other crowdsourcing crowdfunder that just hatched, and it brings more crowds to the yard than these other (vegan) bacon milkshakes. Mainly because this platform is powered by a charitable organization. Hatchfund got started as a micro philanthropy platform and then nestled into AIM (Legal Name: Applied Information Management Institute), a not-for-profit that grows, connects and inspires the tech talent ecosystem to “improve thousands of lives in the Silicon Prairie.” The prairie dogs themselves are outstanding artists who already have more than a Playa Name; they are grant, award, fellowship, or residency recipients.

HatchFund also has a MatchFund, because matching funds encourage and maximize contributions … natch. Big donors make their grants contingent on smaller pledges that they match up to a specified limit.

The projects that make their way to Hatchfund seem to be the largest among the sites. Well-played Hatchfund, you dirty ol’ silicon dog, well-played.

Most projects on all of the sites offer rewards for different levels of contributions. These can range from a heart-felt thanks to giving a big donor the entire project at the end of Burning Man.

That is almost all the theoretical that matters. Now, let’s see this in practice.

As of the end of April, Art Project fundraisers on the BMorg page broke down like this:

GoFundMe – Had five fund requests in the mid thousands of dollars
Indiegogo – One in the hundreds, two in the thousands
Kickstarter – Three in the hundreds
Hatchfund – Had two in the $100,000 range, three in the $10,000 range

So how to decide? Go with Hatchfund if you are already a rockstar and people rush to do your bidding. Kickstarter is good if you are either sure that your project is so awesome-yet-reasonably priced that you will be able to garner all or most of the funds you need from an adoring public (and, you know, make the last $500 an anonymous donation from yourself). Use IndieGoGo if you just want to raise some money and care a little about the projects listed on either side of yours, and GoFundMe if you don’t.

If You Are Stopped by Authorities …

by Rage the Bear

This provides some information about your basic rights if you are stopped by the police or other authorities, on the playa or off. It is not a substitute for legal advice.

When an officer stops you, he or she may search you either if (i) you give consent or (ii) the officer has probable cause that you have committed a crime. Officers are trained to elicit consent with forceful statements like “I need to take a look in there.” And consent may be given even when it might sound like a no, like “I’m not sure that’s OK.” You must give a clear and definitive statement. The easiest is “I do not consent to any search or seizure.”

To obtain probable cause to search you, your property, or camp, an officer must have articulable facts that lead to more than a hunch that you have committed a crime. For example, using a water pipe in the open is enough for probable cause (don’t do this).

When stopped by an officer, you must provide ID or your name as it appears on your ID. Beyond that, you do not need to answer an officer’s questions. Period. Either an officer has probable cause to search you or not. By answering questions, your answers may subject yourself to a search.

If you’d like to leave while interacting with an officer, simply ask “Sir/ma’am, am I free to leave?” If the officer says yes, calmly walk away. If the officer says no, you are being detained or are under arrest. If detained, simply repeat the first question until you are free to go and then calmly leave.

If you are under arrest, politely tell the officer you are invoking your right to remain silent, that you’d like to speak with a lawyer, and then shut the hell up!

On his way in to Black Rock City last year, the author and his partner were detained for an unlit license plate obscured by a bike rack. They were kept waiting long after their license and registration had checked out. Rage postulates they were calling for dogs. It came out they were law students. The officer waved them on. Rage took the bar exam in July.

Harvey Hints at Permanent Venue

by Curious

Larry Harvey, founder of Burning Man, was deliberately cryptic and brief about one topic in the Black Rock City press conference this year. Your local Black Rock Beacon hacks sniffed and by the end of the conference pounced, as no one in the international media present had touched it.

Harvey had stated that, “We may have the opportunity in the future to create another venue. It would be something that would be rather wonderful that lasts … unlike Black Rock City.”

The Beacon asked, “Were you talking about buying a piece of property and land so it can live somewhere? You’re skirting around something, a permanent structure?”

“I don’t want to talk about real estate negotiations while we’re in the process,” Harvey answered, smiling.

“People say, ‘wouldn’t it be great to live Burning Man all year long’—literally?! I don’t advise it!” he joked. “I think it can live all year long as the place is internalized by people and then applied to daily situations—but not manic states of celebration.”

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