Crowdfunding Without The Internet: Pulitzer And The Statue Of Liberty

Hey there!

We tend to think of crowdfunding as something that began with Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe.

But…it actually started long ago. One of the first examples in recorded history involved Joseph Pulitzer and the Statue of Liberty.

I think you’ll find this interesting.

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Hope this helps!


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hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and I recently read an article that got
me thinking about crowdfunding it was
actually about crowdfunding before
crowdfunding existed or was a word you
know crowdfunding has been around
forever it didn’t start with GoFundMe or
IndieGoGo or Kickstarter you know it’s
been around for a long time anytime that
a community sort of all pitches in to
either help an individual or help the
community or whatever with donations or
with effort with some sort of physical
effort and I recently saw an article on
one of my favorite easy ins and I say
easing is apparently I grew up before
the internet actually existed called
Mental Floss it’s one of my favorites
one of my favorites it was actually a
physical magazine at one point in fact
it still may be but I read it online and
I’m a big big subscriber and there was
just article by Emily Petco about a
crowdfunding incident that occurred in
the late 1800s and it’s got some pretty
famous figures associated with it I
thought you’d find this story
interesting so you know about the Statue
of Liberty
every schoolchild learns that the Statue
of Liberty was a gift from France to the
United States what most school children
don’t learn is that the Statue of
Liberty was shipped over to the United
States in pieces and actually sat in a
warehouse for a long time before it was
erected because we couldn’t figure out
how to pay for a base a pedestal on
which to put the Statue of Liberty and
the first thing we did as a country is
we there was a committee forum to build
this pedestal on you know Liberty Island
and out in the in the in the harbor of
New York City and they asked everybody
across the country would you mind
contributing to it and they’re like no
we’re not gonna contribute
course we mind you think it’s gonna be
as a New York thing let New York take
care of it and then there were cities
that said Oh will will contribute pay
for the whole thing if we can have the
Statue of Liberty Philadelphia said that
and Chicago said that and it was you
know it just wasn’t going anywhere until
a guy by the name of Joseph Pulitzer he
you know you know the last name for a
number of reasons certainly the most
common reason that people know that name
is the Pulitzer Prize but Joseph
Pulitzer was a very controversial
publisher back in the day in the late
1800s he had a number of different
newspapers but in New York City his lead
newspaper was called the world and the
world was kind of like today’s New York
Post it he actually invented Joseph
Pulitzer may have his name on a very
very respectful respectable prize you
know everybody wants to get the Pulitzer
Prize but he actually created something
called the yellow journalism which was
very bold and brash and and filled with
invective and you know poked and prodded
it wasn’t stayed like the New York Times
it was big bold headlines and
inflammatory writing and all that sort
of thing many people associate that with
William Randolph Hearst but Joseph
Pulitzer was the one that created it so
the one thing that he did in regard to
this the the Statue of Liberty that was
really good is he said no no we need to
have the Statue of Liberty here in New
York City it’s a New York responsibility
so let’s do it and here’s what I’m going
to do if you contribute anything a dime
$1 $5 $10 they needed about two hundred
and fifty thousand dollars which I am
some god-awful number of millions you
know today in today’s money but they
needed two hundred fifty thousand
dollars to build the pedestal or the
base on which the the Statue of Liberty
would be you know built up any amount of
money you contribute any amount of money
knew your
occurs and I will put your name in the
newspaper and you’ll get a certificate
of of commemoration and appreciation and
he had so much power and he had so many
readers that it worked
unlike the asking the entire government
or the entire theatre room the entire
population across the country to
contribute to something that would in
their eyes mostly benefit New York City
even though we know today that the
Statue of Liberty is a worldwide symbol
of freedom and benefits not just New
York City but the entire country New
Yorkers got together and they donated
their pennies and their dollars and
their tens and hundreds of dollars this
was before a time and this is according
to the article by Emily Petco this was
before a time that wealthy people gave
away their money you know this was the
age before philanthropy was big which
began with our Andrew Carnegie Morse
mostly and Rockefeller they realized
that spending some of their money on the
less fortunate got their name on things
Carnegie Library Carnegie Mellon
University Rockefeller Center in New
York City so the idea that everyone
could come together and they could give
a little bit here a little bit there and
get all the money that they needed
happened because of this really popular
newspaper and Joseph Pulitzer who is the
publisher who kind of pushed this thing
and they got all the money together and
they built the base for the Statue of
Liberty and now we have the Statue of
Liberty because of this very early
instance of crowd funding I love stories
like this I really do and I love
crowdfunding too I mean we use
crowdfunding to help produce the the
version of rehearsal that became
rehearsal Pro we used IndieGoGo and
we were funded within a few days which
was awesome
and we actually delivered which doesn’t
always happen when you have crowdfunding
projects they delivered obviously they
got the the base built in the pedestal
build do you support crowd funded
projects do you ever look at IndieGoGo
or Kickstarter do you have anything that
you particularly proud of that you I
mean I have I have stuff all over my
condo that I have helped fund in one way
or another probably funded you know
small amounts 50 bucks whatever I
probably funded 30 or 40 projects
sometimes they deliver sometimes they
don’t and so I wonder what your thoughts
are if you’re watching this on vo to go
go comm give me a comment below the
video let me know what it is that you
think about crowdfunding and
crowdsourcing and things like that if
you’re not watching it on VOD go go if
you’re not watching this particular
video on vo to gobo know that there’s a
whole bunch of really good stuff over at
vo to go go comm we’d love to have you
over there and this video is one of the
365 videos and the challenge this year
one a day and I so appreciate you
watching if you’d like to sign up for
subscribe for my youtube channel go
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click on that frame and YouTube will
play it for you I’m David H Lawrence
xvii I thank you so much for watching
and I will talk to you tomorrow.



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  1. I recently contributed to the #5 most funded kickstarter in history, for the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) live stream called Critical Role, all voice actors by the way. They wanted to make one animated episode from one of their D&D campaigns. Instead, they’re making a 10 episode season. Crowd funding is great for all kinds of things! Thanks for the video David.

  2. One friend explained it best, when he described his brother and mother’s reticence to forwarding this crowd-funding appeal to their own friends. It fell somewhere between family member’s embarrassment to forward the request for money, to just not caring enough to help. As the this man described how he re-explained and tried convincing people to help, I imagined that I’d get the same response. For God’s sake, I have a hard time getting people to respond to a dinner party invitation, let alone as them to click 10 times for something I need or want.

    There’s an alternative, I’ve yet to tap into fully, although I have delved the resource on 2 afternoons, where it’s available for free at Pintoresca Branch Pasadena Public Library, 1355 NORTH RAYMOND AVENUE, 91103. This singular branch subscribes to a database of all available grants. One must carefully sift to see which criteria one meets, but let’s face it, it’s the money you need for your project or the money to live on while to do your project.

    I think there’s likely an art to grant applications, but it might be more productive than explaining to your aunt that there are no spaces in a url and yes the words just run together, but we can still read them. : )