As hard as it is to prepare for and run a crowdfunding campaign, it’s actually the easy part. After you successfully raise the funds, you are integrity-bound to your backers. They trusted you enough to invest: You’re going to want to earn that trust.
First, a warning: I guarantee whatever time and effort you think you’ll need to get your campaign prepared, launched, and funded, you’re underestimating. Before you go on to consider all the steps to creating your campaign, take this quiz (available through August 10) to determine if crowdfunding might be the right approach for you.
Here are the steps we followed when creating our campaign to fund our first documentary.
Generally, you’ll need to decide your budget, stretch goals (if applicable), and whether you want to fund (the whole project, a composer, music rights, etc.). Consider your email campaign strategy and set up automated responses to all new signups.
Branding was a big part of our campaign and we had designers help us with a logo and artwork for social media as well as rewards. We researched all of the events and holidays we thought we might be able to piggyback on and created corresponding social media content. We also recruited people to throw Kickstarter launch parties and equipped them with party packets. We also ran contests for the partiers and video called to thank them for their support. Our hashtag (#IWILL) went along with the film’s title and allowed us to encourage engagement on social media.
Merchandise was crucial to our campaign but it doesn’t have to directly advertise the film or project. Something that stands alone and starts a conversation can be just as effective.
- Building your page
Write info for your crowdfunding page along with a press release, your welcome email, a template for fans to recruit new supporters, and so on. We did an about video to address WHY we were doing the project and we also created a trailer and little vignettes.
- Creating your rewards
Backerkit and similar products have helped campaigns multiply their efforts. You’ll want to decide both the backer levels and their corresponding rewards. For example, our rewards included thank yous, behind the scenes digital access, a download of film (of course!), T-shirts, a signed poster, VIP Premiere attendance, and more.
- Delivering your rewards
Build this cost (in time and money) into your budget before you launch. Decide how you’re going to get the rewards into your backers’ hands long before you commit to anything. We sent a breakfast aisle worth of repurposed cereal boxes filled with stickers, original artwork, #IWILL cards, and more. It was a massive effort. And THEN we still had to make the film.
The Bottom Line
Crowdfunding is a day-in, day-out job--from the day you start planning all the way through to the time you deliver your rewards. If you’re aware of that and ready for the challenge, you will have a ton of fun. We certainly did! One of the biggest benefits to raising your own funds is that you get to decide what to do them. Your backers aren’t big organizations with their own agendas who will be pulling you in different directions to make sure your project meets their expectations. They’re just people--most of whom committed less than $100--who are happy to let you decide how you want to tell the story. For us, it was worth every minute invested.
About Crew Connection
Whether you’re looking to hire a colorist or an entire video production crew, you can be sure you’ll find a highly-vetted option from our online database. And for those looking for work in production or post-production, you can apply to be a part of our database here.
About Alicia Sample East
Krisi Olivero, plus Alicia and Joseph East created I Will Dance along with a mighty network audio technicians, colorists, composers and more. Since that project, they’ve continued telling stories that matter. They specialize in true stories and believe amplifying brave voices—in partnership with their clients—is part of what they are on this earth to do. And they have fun doing it!