Five weeks after Nesta and the Arts Council launched their crowd funding pilot for arts projects this blog looks at where we are with crowdfunding creative projects, and how do you obtain grants etc. to help your funding campaign.
Crowdfunding for some creative projects has been around a while. Indiegogo was founded in 2008, while Kickstarter started in the US in 2009, and launched in the UK in 2012. Initially focused on film projects these creative crowdfunding sites have now become major book and comic publishers and raise monies for all types of creative projects. In turn they have been joined in the UK by sites ranging from Crowdfunder and BloomVC to Unbound. It has also seen WeFund come and go.
Why Use Crowdfunding?
The obvious reason is it potentially raises money for you to create a new work, or expand an existing project. What is not so obvious is it also potentially creates or expands your fan base, as well as providing credibility to other funders, and in the current climate potentially match funding for your own fund raising efforts.
However, the first check if your project eligible for the crowdfunding site you want to use? All platforms have restrictions, and many have very specific target groups or types of projects which are favoured by the crowdfunding community using that site. It is no use putting a lot of time and effort into planning a crowdfunding operation only to discover you cannot use a crowdfunder, or that your project does not match the pattern of projects funded on a particular site.
The key things to look for are the type and the size of successfully funded projects. Second is the number of active projects like yours, and how long each campaign is taking to successfully raise its funds. This will give you some idea not only of the competition but also the community using the site, and how many people you may need to attract to raise your funds.
What are the most Successful Projects?
With names such as Whoppi Goldberg, De La Soul, Hal Hartley etc. putting up projects you might expect them to be the most successful but in reality it is product designs e.g. Pebble Watch and etc which raise the millions on Kickstarter. However, in the UK the crowdfunding average is more like £7,000 with some asks being as low as £100. Overall the success rate for funding is from 10-20% across all the main sites. However, those who raise above 25-30% in the first 3 weeks do tend to go on to raise the full amount. Depending which site you use the fee you pay to the site will vary up to 9% – something to factor into how much you aim to raise.
So what works best in the UK?
Clearly socially orientated arts and creative projects have a greater success rate than individual creative efforts. So if you have a particular cause or topic you are passionate about create a project around this, and use the campaign to raise money for it, and obviously for you to create the work which highlights the cause etc.
Be realistic – start small – aim to raise a small amount , enough to get the project started, unless you have thousands of facebook friends. After all if you are very successful you can add a stretch target i.e. adding an extra amount of money to be raised. The announcement of a successful campaign and referencing it in future funding applications is obviously better than a failure which you do not want to mention.
Use UK networks but remember the web is global – you may find that people in other countries like your work more than people in the UK!
How do you run a successful campaign?
The first point to make is you probably need some money to start it. This is where the friends and family scenario can seriously disadvantage the majority of creatives, who do not have a circle of contacts with income which they can just give to a new creative project. Though you can start with donations as low as £5-10, it is the donations in the hundreds which ensure you can raise the necessary sums in order to undertake a significant project. This is where you need to look at front loaded match funding schemes, competitions, or local funds which can be used to help launch your campaign.
This blog is too short to provide all the tips and advice which will help you – and most sites give solid advice on how to use their platform.
For a list of tools which will help you create and run a great campaign check out this blog 13 Tools for a Successful KickStarter and IndeiGoGo campaigns.
There are numerous blogs etc from marketing companies with tips etc on how to be successful in your campaign here are two. 1. 3 Simple Steps because a few broad points are worth remembering and 2. 101 Crowdfunding is at the end of this blog – you may want to pin this up somewhere just to remind you of all the things you need to do.
Professionally looking projects with a great video, but also strong visuals to support the work, tend to attract more attention. The quality of digital photographs or illustrations which you can give away as rewards to donors is a major incentive for many. Try to avoid physical giveaways – the postage and time taken to wrap them up often detracts from your funds and crucially your time.
It is a lot of work.
Is it right for you?
If you have a great idea, some strong visuals and the time to dedicate to it – probably.