Stately Woodrow Hall in Woodlawn is headquarters to Desert Island Supply Co.

The exterior of the Desert Island Supply Co. headquarters, housed in Woodrow Hall in Woodlawn, is in great shape. The interior, though, is in serious need of refurbishing. And that, organizers figure, will cost at least $20,000.

So they turned to the Internet, to a Web-based fundraising platform for creative projects called Kickstarter, to raise money for their storefront, workshop, and office space. They used social media, too, to help spread the word. “Facebook and Twitter helped us gain momentum,” Hughey says.

There was a kicker, though, to Kickstarter. Each project must be fully funded before its time expires—in Desert Island’s case, $20,000 in three months—or no money changes hands.

“It was kind of hairy because it was all or nothing,” says Desert Island co-founder Elizabeth Hughey. On August 7, the organization reached its goal—and then some. DISCO raised $21,460 through the site, and another roughly $8,500 in checks.

This long-neglected section of Woodrow Hall will soon get some much-needed attention and reopen as Desert Island's storefront home.

The final push for the fundraising project was exciting but nerve-wracking. “We raised $7,000 the last three days,” Hughey says. “People were upping their pledges.”

The organizers were pleasantly surprised to discover that people don’t necessarily have to live in Alabama to care about—and to fund—a program that gives Birmingham-area kids a chance to learn to write. “We had people from all over the country,” Hughey says.

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