If there's one crowdfunding project you should look into this week, it's Matthew Inman of the webcomic The Oatmeal's quest to help a non-profit purchase the property on which Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower stood so that it can eventually house a Tesla museum. Plus, you might consider funding a docudrama about the life of Tesla.
First, a little background on this project. Earlier this year, Inman was involved in an Internet kerfuffle with the image hosting site FunnyJunk and, to a greater extent, FunnyJunk's lawyer Charles Carreon. Basically, FunnyJunk had hosted several comics from The Oatmeal (which had been uploaded by users), and Inman had posted about it on its blog. Several months after the situation was seemingly resolved, Carreon, on behalf of FunnyJunk, sent Inman a bizarre Cease and Desist letter demanding that Inman remove the blog post. He also threatened to sue Inman for harm to FunnyJunk's trademark unless Inman sent Carreon a check for $20,000.
Incensed, Inman decided instead to set up a charitable fundraiser on IndieGoGo, titled "BearLove Good. Cancer Bad." His goal was to raise $20,000, photograph it, send the photo to Carreon with a rather crudely drawn photo of a woman in love with a bear, and then donate half the money to the National Wildlife Federation and the other half to the American Cancer Society. The fundraiser ended up raising more than $220,000, in part because Carreon kept threatening to sue Inman and the charities personally, engaging the righteous ire of the Internet, including folks who don't particularly care for Inman's comics. (Carreon did end up filing suit in California, but he quickly dropped it.)
Inman has decided to stay on this charitable track, next deciding to raise funds for something near and dear to his heart: Nikola Tesla. Somewhat recently, Inman posted a piece, "Why Nikola Tesla was the greatest geek who ever lived," to which Forbes posted a rebuttal, "Nikola Tesla Wasn't God And Thomas Edison Wasn't The Devil," and Inman posted a rebuttal to the rebuttal. Anyway, Inman is now involved with a nonprofit that wants to buy the Wardenclyffe Tower property, site of Tesla's last laboratory. The campaign is called, "Let's Build a Goddamn Tesla Museum."
The property is currently for sale for $1.6 million, and the nonprofit has received a matching grant from New York State for up to $850,000. So the IndieGoGo campaign is eyeing an $850,000 goal, with more than $640,000 raised so far. Their hope is that, once they have purchased the property (and had it declared a permanently protected site), they can raise further funds to build a Nikola Tesla Science Center on top of tower's original foundation. It would be the only Tesla museum in the US; currently, you have to go to Belgrade, Serbia, to visit the Nikola Tesla Museum. (Note: Someone mentioned in the comments that there is a museum in Colorado Springs as well; this project is billing itself as the American counterpart to the Belgrade museum.)
There are various photo/bumper sticker/t-shirt/tote bag rewards at various pledge levels, but I imagine that most folks will be donating out of their love of science and history. Head over to IndieGoGo to donate or to The Oatmeal blog to read more about the project.
If that's not enough Tesla crowdfunding for your wallet, there's another Tesla-themed campaign running. Currently, a team of filmmakers is working on a television docudrama, Electricity: The Story and Life of Nikola Tesla, which will explore his life and relationships. They're looking for funds to finish the film on Kickstarter. For a $10 pledge, you'll receive a glow-in-the-dark Tesla figure; for a $25 pledge, you'll receive a t-shirt and bumper sticker; for a $30 pledge, you'll receive a pre-screening download of the film.