Some reflections on raising money through crowdsourcing, following the successful “Reply To All” Kickstarter campaign. I've been asked several times how we did it and I have to say I'm no expert, this is my first campaign, and these are just my thoughts and opinions. You can also find out more about “Reply To All” on the Caramie Productions website and Facebook page and I will continue to post updates on the production here.
Free Money From Strangers
First lesson: Kickstarter is not a way to get free money from strangers. Unless you already have a global brand or are lucky enough to go viral, you will be raising money by approaching people and asking them to give you stuff, just like any other form of fundraising: mostly this will be friends, family and colleagues and you will need to campaign hard through all your online or offline social networks.
And by hard I mean hard. I thought I was working hard until I saw the dedication some of my team-mates were putting in. Being part of a team will work in your favour – you will have more social contacts, and you will be able to push each other to succeed. We finished with 103 backers most of whom are known to at least one team member.
Watch The Money Roll In
Second lesson: you can’t just post your video then sit back and watch the money roll in. The aim is to engage with your backers and keep them up to date with your progress. We posted updates (text, written, photo or video) every few days. The campaign was planned in advance although we also updated on some events, such as the casting process, as they happened.
Hundreds Or Thousands Of Pounds
Third lesson: most backers will not sign up for rewards costing hundreds or thousands of pounds. Our high end rewards such as signed art materials, VIP screening tickets, being included in the film as an animation, and producer credits were of interest to a few backers - it's certainly worth offering these premium rewards, but it’s probably best to assume you will do most of your fundraising through lower level rewards. Most backers do want some level of access to your finished project, in our case digital download or DVD, and we had good take-up on coffee mugs. Everyone seems to like coffee mugs.
To be continued…