Literary magazine 4x4 has a less uncertain future after a Kickstarter campaign its board launched Friday surpassed its fundraising goal in two days.
Aliza Polkes and Sarina Bhandari, both CC ’14, the current editors in chief—initially elected to be editors in chief of Quarto last spring—thought they were out of a job when the creative writing department, which funds that publication, announced it would be repurposing Quarto for more academics-centered uses.
When they launched 4x4 in September, the board’s main concern—besides spreading the word about its existence—was finding the money to create a physical product.
“We were brainstorming, and we figured we could charge for the magazine, which a lot of us didn’t really feel comfortable doing,” Bhandari said. “We could put ads in the magazine, which we also didn’t feel comfortable with.”
Then Eva Schach, BC ’16, suggested a Kickstarter campaign, and the group knew donation-based fundraising was the right direction to take.
So they launched a 30-day campaign with a funding goal of $5,000. As of Monday night, the campaign had over 60 backers who had collectively donated $8,156.
Though specific information about the donors is limited at this point, Eric Wohlstadter, CC ’15 and The Eye’s fiction editor, said that the majority of donations came from Quarto alumni and friends and family of current 4x4 group members. The average donation is currently hovering around $130, and four people have pledged more than $1,000.
“We didn’t expect to be at this point only four days on the campaign,” Wohlstadter said. “So there’s a whole plan of who we’re going to email the first week, who we’re going to email the second week, so we haven’t even, I think, tapped into all of our resources.”
The board has suddenly been faced with a completely unexpected problem—what to do with all this extra cash.
“When it was first at just $5,000, we knew exactly what we were going to do with all of it, but now that we’re getting up past eight thousand, we’re really considering sustainability and financial security,” Polkes said. “What are we going to do with this money? Do we want to pursue options for maybe becoming some sort of nonprofit? How are we then going to use it for not just sustainability but also trying to branch out in even more directions, seeing if we can have enough for years and years to come?”
“We’re just considering all these options now, because it’s still sort of new,” Polkes said.
The Kickstarter’s success is the latest in a string of early 4x4 successes. The magazine announced last month that acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates will be judging submissions for the first annual 4x4 Award—Bhandari asked on a whim after meeting the writer at a Princeton literary conference, and she immediately agreed. The magazine’s editors have received entries from more than 150 students for the contest—a slight increase from last year despite a later start date—and attendance at monthly 4x4 events has also been high. Additionally, the magazine itself has received hundreds of entries for publication in its first issue.
In addition to the Kickstarter funds, Bhandari said the editors are applying for a variety of grants to provide long-term funding.
“The Kickstarter was primarily to make sure that we could be enough of an organization so that the next year we can apply for sustainable funding pointing to our successes from what we’ve been able to do on our own,” Bhandari said.