Substack’s community fundraiser lets writers take a slice of the start-up

29 Mar 2023

Image: © Timon/

Substack has tried to look into the community fundraising model before but its plans were thwarted. Its fundraise has already beaten its target.

Substack, the subscription network that lets writers send newsletters directly to their subscribers, has launched a community fundraising round.

The US company said yesterday (28 March) that the round will let writers invest and therefore own a piece of the platform.

This is not the first time Substack has looked into the community fundraising model. It did so following its last funding round in 2021, but failed to get a plan off the ground due to complexities. It wanted to implement the plan to include investors who are not accredited.

“We are serious about building Substack with writers, and this community round is one way to concretise that ideal,” its statement said.

“We’re doing this because the dynamics of a platform like Substack change if the people who are building their businesses on it are owners of it too. And we’re doing it because it not only provides something good for our company but also presents an opportunity for the people who use Substack to participate in the benefits that come from building this network—including the financial upside.”

The minimum that writers can invest is $100. According to Substack’s Wefunder profile, the round has already surpassed its $2m target, with $5,699,292 in the pot at the time this article was published. Prior to this community funding round, Substack was valued at $585m.

If Substack raises the legally-allowed $5m in this round, its new post-funding round valuation will be $655m.

The company has been making waves in the online media space since it started out in 2017. Its stated aim is to “build a new economic engine for culture” by encouraging writers to publish their work and make money from paid subscribers. The subscribers can, in turn, pay to support the writers whose work they value.

Some of the best-known writers and thinkers in the world are publishing on Substack, including Margaret Atwood, Patti Smith and Chuck Palahniuk.

The platform also provides ways for new voices to emerge. Overall, the Substack network has more than 35m active subscriptions, including 2m paid subscriptions. Readers have paid writers and creators more than $300m through the platform to date.

Substack warned potential investors that it is technically still a start-up and that their investment would not be made without risk.

“Just because you can invest in Substack, it doesn’t mean you should. Investments are risky. There’s no guarantee you’ll make your money back, even if you’re investing in well-known companies and well-established industries. The risks are much greater when it comes to investing in start-ups, which have a habit of dying, pivoting, or simply not making enough money.”

The company went on to say that it is a start-up on an “extremely ambitious mission”, and to only part with money if investors can afford to lose it and want to contribute to the company’s development.

It praised platforms like Wefunder for making things like community fundraising rounds possible.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.