At $170,000+, ‘99% Invisible’ Becomes Most Funded Kickstarter in Journalism

An update to our post last week: the pledges kept coming, and the most funded journalism project in Kickstarter’s history is now a small-staffed podcast about design.

If you didn’t read it, public radio’s Roman Mars started a crowdfunding campaign this summer with a goal of $42,000 to help fund extra help for its third season of 99% Invisible, his side project focusing on the “invisible” activity that shapes our lives. (It was a necessary gamble– most of the money was slotted to hire former intern Sam Greenspan and make production more manageable.) In the end the radio show distributed by Public Radio Exchange more than hit its goal, and more than doubled its goal, too—the project funded its goal 405 percent.

A total of 5,661 backers crowdfunded it to a whopping $170,477.

The dollar amount’s no small feat – or petty cash – for many journalism operations, let alone a tiny podcast. It’s also no small feat for anyone on Kickstarter—as the early post noted, 99% Invisible is one of only a few over 200 projects on the crowdfunding site to raise over $100,000. It currently shares that accomplishment with only one other project categorized as journalism, Matter, which funds one long-form piece of reporting on science and technology each week.

The end dollar amount marks higher than Matter, however, making 99% Invisible the most successfully funded journalism Kickstarter yet.

Some journalists are rightfully writing about the successful run and the innovative support model of distributor Public Radio Exchange that helped make it happen. Before the campaign’s completion, we did, too. Here’s our look at how Mars shattered his goal with the help of a strong model, content, and personal drive.

Other successfully funded journalism Kickstarters include The Odyssey Initiative on teaching and The Classical, a home to “smart sportswriting for smart readers.” Here’s a link to browse other journalism Kickstarters.

Also perhaps of interest: the most successfully funded Kickstarter projects in publishing. (99% Invisible ranks among the top there, too—second place in the site’s history.)