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How They Did it: WeFund and White Review

Creatives looking for an interesting way to raise money for projects need to search no further than Wefund, a new website that links creative projects with potential funders in exchange for non-monetary perks. The website, founded and directed by Michael Troughton, encourages creatives to promote themselves in hopes of receiving funds. In return, project creators must provide incentives for funders. Though relatively new, Wefund has seen enormous success with some of its projects, like The White Review magazine, and continues to serve as a promotional platform for others.

After reading about Kickstarter, an American website with a similar incentives-driven concept, Troughton says he decided to bring the idea to a broader audience. Kickstarter only allowed submissions from its American audience, but Troughton wanted his website to accept submissions from anywhere. Less than six months old, the website has already facilitated the funding of several projects.

Wefund employs a crowd funding model to finance projects in which funders pledge a specific monetary amount and in return receive a token of patronage from the project's creators. Anyone can list a project for free and it's up to the creators to generate interest for funding.

To ensure satisfaction from every party involved, Wefund offers project creators and funders a risk-free investment.

"Wefund enables anyone with an idea for a creative project to pitch it to the public - if enough people like it and pitch in, then the project gets the go-ahead," Troughton says. "If they don't, then it's back to the drawing board to work out why not."

When a project doesn't meet its funding goal, then no one receives or loses anything. Wefund won't take any money from funders unless and until a project reaches or exceeds its target.

Social networks, a strong PR machine and reliance on project creators to utilize their own networks make up the site's strategy to generate interest among funders, says Troughton. Though Wefund has this game plan in place, he says interest from funders comes in a variety of ways, including liking the idea, knowing the creator, enjoying the project's video or desiring one of the perks. Occasionally, it's completely random.

"Sometimes people are just bored at work and fancy doing something interesting, so they have a browse through Wefund," he says.

The site's creative project categories include art, design, film, journalism and theatre, among others. With such a wide array of projects listed on Wefund, some are more likely than others to succeed.

"Generally, the more successful projects are the ones that either already have a network/audience to go to or those that work very hard to create one around their project," Troughton says.

The site's director encourages creators to offer incentives that will generate a good response. He says any sort of event invitation is a good idea, but beyond that funders desire recognition of some kind.

"Let people in your studio, do something special for them, be as imaginative as possible whilst still offering something tangible," Troughton advises.

For projects like The White Review, Wefund offered the publication its final nudge towards full funding. The White Review, a new arts, culture and politics magazine launched in January, did not promote its project on Wefund until it had completed a significant amount of fundraising on its own. The Review's editors, Benjamin Eastham and Jacques Testard, say revenue generated from Wefund allowed them to pay for printing and set up their own website.

To appeal to funders, The White Review offered a "collaborative editing project" incentive, which will allow donors to read a selection of articles then vote on their favourite. The winning article will be included in the magazine's second issue, due out in May. With a strong base of supporters, the Review exceeded its funding goal by more than £200.

"That we were able to exceed our goal is testament to the generosity of people who are determined to see independent ventures flourish in the face of government cutbacks," say the Review's editors.

The Review was established to give young writers and artists a larger platform to display their work. The publication accepts unsolicited submissions and pieces to ensure that new voices are heard in each issue.

"Both Jacques [Testard] and I worked as journalists and editors in advance of founding The White Review, and were both disappointed by the general conservatism of the publishing world in terms of publishing untested writers," says Eastham. "We wanted to challenge that by mixing up established names with new ones."

The White Review is a quarterly print publication that also operates a website, which is updated more frequently. The forthcoming issue will include work from Swedish photographer J.H. Engstrom and additional artwork by Royal College of Art graduate Noam Turan.


The White Review
Posted on
12 April 2011
By Jessica Owen
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