With one of four pilot projects completed, the team behind Kanstarter has learned from its inaugural class of crowd-sourcing ventures.
In October the Kansas Sampler Foundation and its partner organization, the We Kan Network, launched the site allowing patrons to donate time, talent and treasure to various rural communities.
The projects are: an update to the Burdett Mini Golf Course; purchasing land in Plains to build a grocery store; restoring the Wilson Czech Opera House marquee; and the construction of a recreation trail in Yates Center.
The site features individual pages for each project, with videos explaining the needs of the projects.
“We are so grateful to the pilot projects for helping us find our way with a site that will be a tremendous asset to all Kansas communities,” said Marci Penner, the foundation’s director.
Kanstarter projects are coordinated by community volunteers. Those involved spend a bulk of their time creating awareness for the projects through speaking events, fundraisers, and promoting their cause on social media sites.
Earlier this month the Wilson project reached its initial goal of raising more than $15,500, thanks to the generosity of more than 50 donors.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” said Allison Ford, a Wilson community member involved with the project. “We’re very thankful for Marci and the whole Kanstarter project.”
The 1901 opera house was destroyed in a fire; plans have been drawn to reconstruct the remains into an amphitheater. Ford said raising the money to restore the marquee was the first step needed to breathe life into the project. The group plans to begin more grant writing for the next phase and may possibly use Kanstarter to raise more funds.
Projects in Burdett, Plains and Yates Center still have farther to go. All three are sitting below 50 percent of their fundraising goal.
“We’re getting there,” said Katie Hammeke, a project coordinator in Burdett. “It’s been energizing our community a lot.”
With almost $4,000 raised, the Burdett miniature golf course has a ways to go to reach its $10,900 goal. Once the money is raised, the community plans to remodel the course in honor of Clyde Tombaugh, the discoverer of Pluto. Tombaugh was a Burdett native.
Hammeke and the other project coordinators feel their project is coming together little by little. The coordinators post regularly to a Facebook page called Rediscover Pluto to update people about the project.
On Christmas Eve, the Burdette project received a $1,500 match.
The Plains project has raised $1,731 of its $5,090 goal, while the Yates Center project has $1,790 toward its $7,630 goal.
However, Penner remains optimistic. She said the pilot projects have helped the Kanstarter team prepare for the next step, allowing more projects to be posted onto the site.
“We learned so much with the pilot projects and want to use those lessons to better set things up for success,” Penner said.
In the coming weeks, said Penner, the Kanstarter team will be working on development of training sessions, “pitch-your-project” events, an application kit, and to tighten the guidelines for the project submission process.
Currently, in order for a group to create a project on the site, it must first demonstrate that:
1. The project is for the good of the community.
2. It will not cover salaries.
3. It will not promote religious or political views.
4. It is supported by multiple generations.
The goal of Kanstarter, Penner said, is to ease the burdens of rural life that incidentally occur. She encourages those with questions about starting a Kanstarter project to contact the Sampler Foundation.
The site recently underwent updates to make it more interactive and helpful to donors and project coordinators.