February 23, 2014 · ada community

Using indiegogo to get to a conference

While I love Ada, I love my peers, and I love programming, sometimes it gets lonely being the only lesbian student. Then came along the first Lesbians Who Tech Summit (LWTS) and when I found out my heart jumped for joy! I figured that if coding is going to be a sustainable career for me, I could really use a support network. Not only is the LWTS an amazing opportunity to start creating that network, but the women who are presenting are phenomenal role models to look up to as I begin traversing this career path.

Of course, the challenge then became about logistics. How do I get there? What is a conference really like? How do I pay for it?

Luckily I had recently attended the Women in Tech event "Show me the money!" where I got to sit in on a roundtable discussion with Forest Gibson, crowdfunding extraordinaire, and get great insight into building a successful campaign. With the encouragement of our fantastic program manager Elise, I started setting up an Indiegogo campaign with less than two weeks until the summit. From Gibson's discussion I knew two major keys to my success: 1. Perks can be your downfall- in terms of money, time, and effort. 2. The most successful campaigns raise nearly half the money within the first 24 hours.

With this information in hand, I made sure to make my perks small and managable. I know that no one really wants another tshirt or some cheap freebie from something they funded that isn't very cool. Aside from pre-orders, people generally aren't trying to buy products from campaigns so I made sure to keep my pitch as clear as possible: I wanted to do a specific thing with specific goals and a specific budget, and I needed help to do it. Since I have experience with copywriting, I tried to apply those lessons to my campaign as well. The text had to be positive, clear, and concise. I didn't want anyone to read it as me trying to guilt them into giving me money. In addition, I made sure to thank LWT for giving me a scholarship ticket and clarify that any additional or leftover funds would be going back into the organization.


screenshot of indiegogo

Well, within the first 24 hours I was at that halfway mark. I shared the campaign on twitter, facebook, and to my immediate family through email. Honestly, I was too busy with a project to really promote it much online, but lo-and-behold, it got shared quite a bit more than I expected. The lesbians in tech network that I am so desperate to connect with were some of the first to really put it out there and promo me hard on social media, leading to my first big donations. My Ada peers shared with their networks on twitter and facebook, which resulted in surprising contributions (like a TA's mom!).

When I first started the campaign, I thought, "Okay, Elise suggested I do this, it's probably supposed to be of value as a life lesson too, but I think I get it moral of the story so do I really have to do it?". Then again, I really need the financial backing to justify the trip, so I figured with the flex-funding option on Indiegogo, even if all I raised was the $75 to cover the cost of entry to the summit, I would be in a better place than I was. It's been 4 days and I have over 90% of my goal! I am in the home stretch with less than $100 left to raise over the next 7 days. Honestly, I never expected to get this far and in the face of the microaggressions and homophobia I've experienced as a new gay female developer, the best part about this campaign is the feeling I have of renewed faith in the community. The generous community members that have contributed have shown me that they aren't just giving diversity lip service, but that they are willing to back it up! (with their wallets!) <3

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