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 Post subject: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 7:53 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:52 pm
Posts: 91
My interests take me far and wide across the vastness of the internet and in those virtual travels I've run across a couple of people that use a site called Patreon to raise funds for their projects. The one that impresses me the most is a man by the name of Doug Jackson(on YouTube its SV Seeker) in Tulsa, Oklahoma that is building a 76 foot Chinese junker in his front yard. The boat will be set up for ocean research by the time he's finished with it and it seems like a project worth investing in. So when he started his Patreon account, I thought nothing of giving him a steady $2 a month. And that's what I like about this crowdfunding site. It seems to follow the "pint a week" fundraising tool that the Tornado group in the UK used to raise a steady income over a long period, but it packages it neatly into what seems to be an easy to use website. Hit a button to donate and automatically once a month $2 comes out of my account and gets spent on something I think is worth backing. I know that if a number of other organizations that have members here on RYPN were to set up accounts with Patreon, I'd be one of the first to sign up.

Here is the rub though. You have to generate content, and the draw to donate on Patreon for your members is that you get to see the content before say, all of the other followers on YouTube/Facebook/Instagram/etc. do. Most of the other people that use Patreon are "YouTubers" and they'll post more exclusive/behind the scenes videos or pictures than what you would normally see on other social media platforms. These are generally people that make videos of their lives or smaller projects and are looking for a funding source to live off of or help pay for materials. And originally, that is what Patreon was founded for, to help create funding for artists(painters/sculptors/etc.). They are however, open to working with non-profits. My organization is considering using this source to help drive donations for some upcoming projects that we have in the works. But I wanted to extend the idea out here among the other professionals in this business for discussion. Maybe there's an angle I haven't considered yet, or something I've missed.

What do you think? Have you used Patreon or would you use it? If you have used it, what are some tips you might share with the rest of us? If you investigated and decided not to, what were your reason behind that decision? Please let me know.

Thanks,

Mike Sullivan

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The minor events of history are valuable, although not always showy and picturesque.
- "The Game" instruction sheet for Mark Twain's Memory Builder


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 12:28 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:45 pm
Posts: 138
It might be possible for a museum/heritage railroad to take advantage of patreon but it is certainly not a normal use for it. On patreon you are expected to create content both for those that are donating on patreon and the rest of the internet. Any non-profit reaching out through patreon would be sharing the platform with individuals that can put the entirety of their patreon donations back into improving and making more content.

The recent rise in patreon use is not simply because it is a great donation tool, it is partly because many youtube creators have seen a decline in revenue from youtube's (Google's) own advertisements. These creators, many of which quit their day job to make youtube videos full time, have had to reach out to advertisers on their own and ask viewers to contribute to patreon if they would like.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 2:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1310
A non-profit museum wouldn't really need to funnel through Patreon. They SHOULD be able to do it themselves. In this day of technology, it seems so easy to be completely transparent with donors. But yet... it doesn't seem like that always happens.

An example of what could be...

Big Town Railroad Museum has a group of members who want to restore Baldwin #1, a steam locomotive in the museums collection. They start a fundraising campaign that has a dedicated page on the website. Become a monthly giver at x amount of dollars, and get access to exclusive content that shows week by week (or month by month) progress of the locomotive. Donate xx amount of dollars per month and get a quarterly gift (this could be a lithograph of builders plans, lapel pin of the number plate, etc).

And then follow through... see that the money is actually going to the locomotive project. See that progress.. even if it's slow, is being made. Update the time line, follow through on video content and follow through on making progress.

People want to see that their money is going to the mission. Many railroad museums seem to want people to give blindly and just trust their money is being spent well. I think people want to know what the money is going for.

That's why the Patreon works.... people see what the money is going towards.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2017 4:14 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:57 am
Posts: 210
If the money is being applied properly, I don't see any reason why there shouldn't be a way for us to use Patreon. Surely you could come up with SOMETHING to provide weekly or monthly updates about.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:39 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:52 pm
Posts: 91
I think what attracts me to it's use is the idea that a lot of people can donate a little each month automatically, and that it's so easy to do. I've been looking for a way to utilize the "pint a week" fundraising idea since I read about it so many years ago. I thought was a brilliant concept, and Patreon seems like a platform that's ready to put that idea to work. A group like the W.W. & F. that has an update on a regular basis seems like someone that could benefit tremendously from a source like this. Or any organization that has regular updates. I've noticed that this guy in Tulsa that's building the boat just posts what he put up on youtube on Patreon. There's no real special content just for supporters. So maybe having separate special updates isn't necessary. But it's certainly something I think might be useful and I know that we'll continue to pursue it and see where we end up.

Mike S.

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The minor events of history are valuable, although not always showy and picturesque.
- "The Game" instruction sheet for Mark Twain's Memory Builder


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:37 am 

Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 1:37 pm
Posts: 1796
It occurs to me that the content generation for Patreon is easily something that would fit within a museum's "mission" -- think of it as a much more detailed version of a given story or issue, extended over time and without the normal limitations of access and viewer overload in a 'bricks and mortar' exhibit.

An example of one of the simple kinds of 'stream' would be the weekly photo updates on ATSF 2926. I was checking periodically with some interest to see a full discussion of the Wagner bypass valves, and didn't see it -- that all by itself would be one meaningful installment of a Patreon stream. That is "a pint a week" with teeth.

An alternative is to look at a particular topic, amplifying and extending it periodically (with input from other sources, including those outside the organization). Much of the peripheral material that CSR/SRI has produced for Project 130 could have been supplied in weekly installments, with ongoing discussion and clarification on points of interest then being included in subsequent ones. There is, of course, no requirement that the content be restricted just to a particular project; some of it could address larger or even controversial themes.

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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:02 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 630
Google is your friend !!!

There is a review at

https://www.pcmag.com/review/344624/patreon

One sentence summary -- this is a crowd funding source and costs money to use and may be ineffective for organizations with good websites.

Bob H


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:39 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 376
Location: Clayton NC
Patreon isn't the only crowd funding site that allows recurring monthly donations. GoFundMe does for instance.

I'd expect sites like GoFundMe would be a better fit for most non-profit projects. But if you truly envision being able to produce 'exclusive' or 'inside' information on a regular basis for the life of the project to entice higher monthly payment levels, then Patreon would work.

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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:56 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 22, 2007 5:46 am
Posts: 2589
Location: S.F. Bay Area
How well do they handle nonprofits? You need to go through Pub. 526 on this, but it may not be as simple as sending them a tax receipt for their total Patreon gift, since Patreon took a non-trivial fraction of the money, and that part may not be tax deductible.

Is your organization or project manager absolutely 100% prepared to do the mandatory tax letter for gifts over $250/YEAR (that being $21/month)? Usually the project manager has no clue, and it's a dog's breakfast whether your office staff happens to catch it and deal properly. It's even worse if the manager takes the money directly off Patreon.

One advantage of JustGive and certain others is they do handle nonprofits in a tax-correct manner, and do the tax work for you - easier on you, and easier on donors too since their tax letter covers all donations through that platform. That reduces involvement and overhead of office staff.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2022 9:39 am 

Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2022 7:01 pm
Posts: 3
We're trying Patreon for the V&T "Reno" Restoration, here's some of my experience:

It's a lot of pressure to keep an unending stream of content flowing. Most people aren't proficient with video editors, web publishing, etc and this is probably especially true of railroad preservation people? So consider how much time you'll spend managing the platform, it's not trivial. Joking, but you'll need a 14-year old involved to handle the tech -- thankfully there's a young generation of kids interested in trains!

Now, we came up with a pretty good video to use to advertise on Facebook and YouTube (https://youtu.be/50aQtBe_Qss). We spent about $150 dollars running ads on those platforms with this video. We got a great response from an advertising standpoint. We advertised a live stream with Tom Gray in August.

The idea was: there's such great national interest in railroad preservation that these ads would drive people to the See The Reno site, and from there they'd make a direct donation or go over to Patreon to sign up. The carrot was that VIP Patreon members and those making >= $25 donations would get to see the stream live.

What happened was just about no one new signed up for Patreon while we ran those ads. We had a very small audience for the stream. It turned out well as a piece of content once I made it public, but the next time we do a live stream we're going to make it for everyone.

There's a strategy on Patreon I haven't quite figured out. It's a chicken and egg problem. The organic community at Patreon alone won't bring people to your Patreon page. So you need to have public content, such as on Youtube, to draw people over to Patreon. You need your best content to entice people in the first place, and you need it again to keep people on Patreon.

Bottom line silver lining out of our experiment I created a Discord server where our Patreon Patrons can congregrate, but we've made that a public server and we're still pretty small https://discord.gg/wvXTKgrT

So going forward we'll open our Patreon again for October and post some "Reno" updates.

To conclude, I'm not saying Patreon can't work. But unless you have a resource who knows about web fundraising already, it's going to be quite a learning experience.

(Note I have our Patreon "on hold" this month because we don't have the resources to post compelling content this month, I'm taking my final course in an MSCS so my life is busy!)


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Wed Sep 28, 2022 12:15 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:43 am
Posts: 707
Incidentally, the SV Seeker is now on Lake Dardanelle (A wide spot on the Arkansas River near Russellville, AR) and will be heading to the Gulf of Mexico this fall.

Video content is wildly successful for at least some people. But it takes a little work. Good cameras are now cheap (GoPros are commonly used, even in network media, and cheap compared to studio cameras), but the lighting and sound requires immediate upgrades. Capturing interesting subject matter and learning effective and engaging video editing make all the difference in the world.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2022 1:20 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 2280
Patreon is a channel, not a source. The distinction is important.

Unless they are somehow going to bring you a rich source donors; why pay their fees and risk vendor lock?

Based on jameslohse's experience it seems like it also creates a diversionary demand on time and effort.

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Compared to me Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have an optimistic viewpoint and sunny disposition

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but my words will wound your "inner child", intentionally.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Sat Oct 01, 2022 2:33 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1310
superheater wrote:
Patreon is a channel, not a source. The distinction is important.

Unless they are somehow going to bring you a rich source donors; why pay their fees and risk vendor lock?

Based on jameslohse's experience it seems like it also creates a diversionary demand on time and effort.


It's a channel with a unique audience that wouldn't necessarily give to a railroad restoration.

Any organization really should have a social media / online content creator full-time that could handle the updates.

Whether is Patreon or not, it's a great model to draw in an audience and keep them engaged with regular updates.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 7:01 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:54 pm
Posts: 2280
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
superheater wrote:
Patreon is a channel, not a source. The distinction is important.

Unless they are somehow going to bring you a rich source donors; why pay their fees and risk vendor lock?

Based on jameslohse's experience it seems like it also creates a diversionary demand on time and effort.


It's a channel with a unique audience that wouldn't necessarily give to a railroad restoration.

You said it.

Any organization really should have a social media / online content creator full-time that could handle the updates.

That costs money; and they still need to involve others.

Whether is Patreon or not, it's a great model to draw in an audience and keep them engaged with regular updates.

Show me the numbers. We have a testament here that it was time consuming and not productive. I see the T-1 trust has their own site; YouTube videos and direct physical engagement and they are just short of 40% of an extraordinary goal.


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Compared to me Friedrich Nietzsche is said to have an optimistic viewpoint and sunny disposition

"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but my words will wound your "inner child", intentionally.


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 Post subject: Re: Patreon. Is this a new source of funding for non-profits
PostPosted: Thu Oct 06, 2022 10:23 pm 

Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 12:36 am
Posts: 535
Location: Anchorage, Alaska
My observation as a consumer of Youtube videos is that many of the channels that begin using Patreon typically already have a large Youtube following (10s if not 100s of thousands) based on their content and have built it over several years, often by releasing a new video on the same day each week. Their viewership has also allowed them to monetize their videos on Youtube. The free content is what attracts people to the premium content available via Patreon. I have a hard time seeing this model working for a locomotive overhaul or a preservation organization. I'm challenged to come up with a couple of new photos and a narrative each week for our Facebook page, I can't imagine trying to generate a weekly 30 to 60 minute video.

I also wonder if Patreon or other social media fund raising via Facebook, Gofundme, etc., would actually be a source of significant new income and contributors, or if it would just increase the administrative workload by pursuing essentially the same group of donors with multiple methods of donating.


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