Crowdsourcing Funds Used for Social Documentary Project


Photographer Ed Kashi raised $19,610 on Indie Voices this past February to fund his informative documentary on fatal chronic kidney disease and its hurtful effect on Nicaragua’s sugarcane workers. Talking Eyes Media acted as the fiscal sponsor for The Island of Widows, his crowd sourced campaign. All donations were tax deductible.

Kashi is a photojournalist dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. As a member of VII Photo Agency, he has been recognized for his complex imagery and its compelling rendering of the human condition. In addition to editorial assignments, filmmaking and personal projects, Kashi is an educator who instructs and mentors students of photography, participates in forums and lectures on photojournalism, documentary photography and multimedia storytelling.

Kashi foremost believes in the power of visual storytelling. It is his goal to raise awareness to this health issue while facilitating the development of a solution to the problem. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Kashi, who offered his advice on crowd-sourced fundraising. For more on Ed Kashi visit,

EBR: Why crowd-sourced fundraising? / How did it go?


Ed Kashi: I was invited to participate as one of the first round projects on the new crowd-funding site Indie Voices, through The Photo Society. It was not easy and at times seemed like a doomed effort, so it was a humbling success thanks to over more than 200 people who contributed to the project, helping to reach the $19,000 goal. Crowdfunding does have the advantage to reach a very wide audience and garner far-reaching support for important causes.

One of the most rewarding aspects of this effort was how much publicity and attention for the issue my work is focused on that this fundraising campaign created. My work appeared in the NYT Lens Blog and many other prominent and international blogs, publications and websites. I find that encouraging since the main purpose of this work is to create awareness and contribute to finding solutions to this ongoing problem that is not only impacting workers and their families in Nicaragua, but throughout Central America and as far away as Sri Lanka and India.

More questions about how to make crowd-sourced fundraising work for you?

Click here to download Robinson’s “A Guide to Crowd-sourced Fundraising for Artists” in the June/July issue. Full of stellar advice, tips and an understanding of why small, commonly overlooked details matter, this information should not be missed!

EBR: What were some of the challenges?

Ed Kashi: While I couldn‘t have asked for better publicity on the campaign, it was a challenge to grasp that press and publicity don‘t always translate into contributions. This was compounded by the fact that using an “all or nothing” platform increased the pressure to attain successful funding.

EBR: What advice would you share with our readers?

Ed Kashi: Definitely plan ahead. As this campaign was jump-started into action without much notice, we were playing catch-up to promote the campaign in the beginning. Before you begin a campaign, be sure to have a social media and promotion plan set up to be able spread the word continuously and effectively throughout the campaign. Also, plan ahead calculating expenses with rewards; shipping and packaging is a cost often forgotten about when planning your a budget.