Crowdfunding 101 Blog Series – Part Two: Ananda Leeke’s Crowdfunding Journey with Kickstarter

Happy Thursday Digital Sisters!

As promised, Digital Sisterhood Network (DSN) is continuing its Crowdfunding 101 Blog Series in preparation for the upcoming Blogalicious Weekend Conference panel discussion on CrowdFunding: The Financial Backing for Your Project Is at Your Fingertips! that will take place on Friday, October 4 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Part One of the Crowdfunding 101 Blog Series provided an overview of crowdfunding. Today’s  blog discusses Leeke’s crowdfunding journey with Kickstarter. It is based on excerpts from her upcoming book, Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Crowdfunding 101 Blog Series – Part Two: Ananda Leeke’s Crowdfunding Journey with Kickstarter

Ananda Leeke’s crowdfunding journey began with a challenge from her Ameriprise Financial financial advisor Judy Weathers during their first quarter meeting in 2010. They were reviewing Leeke’s self-publishing expenses for two books published in 2007 and 2009, and estimating the expenses for a third book. Weathers asked her if she could find investors or alternative funding for the book. At first, she thought Weathers was asking her to do the impossible, but a small voice inside convinced her to be open and pursue alternative funding.

Ananda Leeke and Judy Weathers at Ulah Bistro on U Street, NW in DC

Ananda Leeke and Judy Weathers at Ulah Bistro on U Street, NW in DC

Months passed without Leeke lifting a finger to identify alternative funding. Then, it happened. The light bulb went off during an episode of Digital Sisterhood Radio. She was moderating a panel of creative women in social media when Abiola Abrams, author and founder of, referenced an Essence article that discussed the power of using Kickstarter to fund books and films. After the show, she visited and learned about several authors who used it to raise money for their books. Their success inspired her to take the plunge.

Here’s what happened: she created two Kickstarter campaigns for her self-publishing package and photography fees to support her Digital Sisterhood book. Using video was a must for her. So she recorded an eight-minute video with her laptop’s web cam that was very simple and shared her reasons for writing the book and using Kickstarter. She included the same information in the description section of her campaign page. She also offered seven pledge options ($1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, and $200) with rewards that included:

  • $1 Pledge: Donors names will be published in the book as supporters.
  • $5 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and access to the behind-the-scenes video & audio updates that will document the creation of the book.
  • $10 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and access to a live author chat on during the book writing and publishing process.
  • $20 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above, a personal thank-you note with book logo and signed by author, and an invitation to participate in the online book release party via
  • $50 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above, an invitation to vote on the book cover design, and a Digital Sisterhood mug.
  • $100 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and an autographed copy of the book.
  • $200 Pledge: Donors will receive everything mentioned above and a private one-hour author chat via Skype or telephone with the author.

With the support of her generous donors (backers is the Kickstarter term), her first campaign raised $1,159 in 2010. Her second campaign raised $701 in 2011. She also received donations via PayPal and from friends who gave cash and check donations.

Leeke’s funding goals were very conservative. She wanted to make sure she received every dollar she raised because Kickstarter only offers fixed funding, an all-or-nothing approach. That means if you don’t reach your funding goal, you don’t receive any of the money you raised.

The biggest challenges she faced with her campaigns were writing a book while she was conducting two fundraisers and underestimating the time it would actually take to publish the book. Her underestimation caused a three-year delay in her delivery of rewards to her donors (she is in the process of delivering rewards over the next two months). To maintain communication with her donors, Leeke posted regular updates about her writing process in 2011 and part of 2012. She slacked off in 2013. Fortunately, her donors have not complained. They are a great group of people who have a lot of compassion and patience. They taught her that crowdfunding is rooted in generosity. For that, she is truly grateful.

As a result of her experience, Leeke believes crowdfunding is rooted in:

  • Passion for a cause, project, or venture;
  • The experience of connection, relationship building, and social capital within a community;
  • The power of asking;
  • The act of generosity; and
  • The practice of gratitude.

Stop DSN’s blog tomorrow for Part Three of the series. It will offer a checklist and guidelines on how to conduct a successful crowdfunding campaign.

AARP Decide.Create.Share Initiative: August Check-In

AARP Decide.Create. Share Program for Women's Long-Term Caring Needs

AARP Decide.Create. Share Program for Women’s Long-Term Caring Needs

Happy Last Thursday in August!

On July 22, I wrote a blog post about my participation in AARP’s Decide. Create. Share. Initiative and 40 Day Pledge. The Initiative is designed to help women do three things:

  • Decide what kind of future they want for themselves.
  • Create a long-term plan that will help them address their health, financial, legal, and home issues and achieve their goals.
  • Share their long-term plan with the important people in their lives.

The Pledge offers women an opportunity to make a commitment to complete a Living Longer, Living Smarter plan for their future. It covers four critical areas of life— home and community, health, finances and wishes. My post outlined what I planned to do during the 40-day period which officially ends on August 31. Today’s blog post is a check-in that shares what I have I completed so far and my plans for the coming weeks and months.


My August got off to a great start due to inspiration I received from reading the “Love Your Age” issue of Prevention. I was moved into action by Anne Alexander’s Editor’s Letter, a series of lessons in the “Love Your Age!” article by Megan Othersen Gorman and Sari Harrar, and wisdom from Dr. Maya Angelou, one of my personal sheroes.

Ananda Leeke and Judy Weathers at Ulah Bistro on U Street, NW in DC

Ananda Leeke and Judy Weathers at Ulah Bistro on U Street, NW in DC

I carried their words into my  third quarter meeting with my Ameriprise financial advisor Judy Weathers at Ulah Bistro in my U Street neighborhood in Washington, D.C. (Ulah has great food, drinks, dessert, and wine). We reviewed my business revenue streams, expenses for any big ticket items in the next several months, emergency fund, investments, new investment plan, retirement savings, and current policies for disability and long-term care. Before ending the meeting, we scheduled a follow up meeting in October. Judy also gave me homework (update all of my financial information from early 2013) that is due on September 6. She agreed to be my accountability check-in person for my 40 Day Pledge homework in September, October, November, and December.

Here’s what I was able to do this month: clean out some of my financial files, submit my monthly invoices to vendors and clients on time, make a list of 3rd quarter expenses and new revenue stream sources (obtained one new client), schedule and go to three women’s wellness exam follow up appointments, and give summer clothing and shoes to charity.

This weekend, I am going to complete the online 40 Day Pledge Worksheets, finish my homework for my financial advisor Judy, file my current financial records, review my health records and file the current records in order, and create a more realistic schedule for the action items listed below. I am gonna be one busy lady this Labor Day Weekend!

1) Financial – Personal and Business Project


  • Prepare a list of all monthly expenses and account numbers for each creditor, utility providers, and mortgage company).
  • Create a list of all my usernames and passwords for bank, credit, debit, web site, and social media accounts. Share the list with close family members.
  • Obtain a safe deposit box.


  • Prepare a list of upcoming expenses for the 4th quarter.
  • Prepare a list of all current revenue streams for the 4th quarter.
  • Identify additional revenue streams for the 4th quarter and map out plans to obtain them.

2) Health Project

  • Obtain my health records from my previous doctor and send them to my new doctor.
  • Schedule my eye, dental, and foot appointments in September and October.
  • Prepare a list of my vitamins, medications, medical care providers and acupuncturist’s contact information, and health/eye/dental/long-term care/disability/life insurance policy information. Share the list with close family members.

3) Home Project

  • Make several copies of my deed to my property and file in my safe deposit box and personal home files.
  • Update my home insurance plan inventory list with new equipment and the value of any personal property.
  • Create a contact list of all home service providers (plumber, heat/air conditioner, painter, and contractors).
  • Prepare a list of items and furniture I plan to purchase in the next 6 months to a year and map out the best times to purchase them.

4) Legal Project

  • Review and update my will (include statement about how to handle my social media accounts and web sites when I die) and healthcare power of attorney. Have the documents notarized. Give copies to my close family members and file a copy in the my safe deposit box.
  • Review my real estate property deed and related documents. File them away safely.

As you can see from my check-in, I am a work in progress. I am happy about the progress I have made and looking forward to taking better care of myself in the coming weeks and months.

Did you take the 40 Day Pledge? What have you been to accomplish?



Disclaimer: This blog post was written in support of Digital Sisterhood Network’s Leadership, Lifestyle and Living Well initiative and participation in AARP’s Decide. Create. Share. Initiative.