Crowdfunding Bootcamp

im so cute cat

Last week I went to a really great workshop on Crowdfunding with Patrick Hussey, which was organised by Arts and Business NI. I promised @Bolster and @CilarisMedia that I would blog my notes – so here goes:

Crowdfunding isn’t new: Back in the day it was called public subscription – and it paid for most of the older statues in our city centres, and to set up Trusts and Foundations, like the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

There are lots of different platforms, Kickstarter is the most well known, indiegogo is also popular (one that Patrick didn’t mention but might be useful to people in Northern Ireland is Fund: It. which is an Ireland wide platform run by the Southern equivalent of Arts and Business)

Each of these platforms has different terms and conditions. Each takes a different cut of the money raised. On some you only get money if your project is fully funded, others let you pay the platform a higher percentage to keep the money raised even if your project isn’t fully funded.

One of the things I really took away from this workshop is that people don’t care about the in’s and out’s of a project – they want to make an emotional attachment to it. As Patrick put it think of Crowdfunding as ‘Charity uncoupled with tradegy’

…. a note: Crowdfunding isn’t easy. Half of projects fail. So you have to compel people to act. To fall in love with your project. How?

Cats!

Yes cats – the internet loves cats, cats are viral, people share them. Before you start a crowdfunding campaign you need to build your social network – otherwise no one will know you exist and no one will fund your project. Creating interesting visual content is a great way to build your social network, don’t be boring, be funny, and when you don’t have time to be funny, be interesting, share stories about other organisations. Don’t just talk about yourself!

Once you’ve built your social network, your ready to launch your crowdfunding campaign. If you have a self righteous campaign that would look good on an Arts Council application form, its probably not going to do well on the internet. People want videos, and funny images and internet memes that they can share with friends. How can a small, poor arts organisation afford cats and videos and shiny internet content that will make people fall in love with their campaign? Students! Is the answer Patrick provided – he showed us a number of brilliant campaign videos from cartoon to stop motion on Kickstarter and explained that these did not require fancy equipment only a bit of imagination and some media production skills. Something students on digital and interactive courses have lots of.

Go and watch videos, see what gets funded and the stories behind these projects.

Be funny and clever – orchestrate your content. Indie GoGO has an algorithm called the GoGO factor – this basically picks up on any projects that are getting lots of attention. Exploit this! When you are about to launch a project get everyone to tweet, and post about it on Facebook at the exact same time say 12:01, send an email get everyone you know to do it. If you can set off GoGo factor then there is a good chance they will pick you up on your blog or tweet about your project – which means you have a much higher chance of succeeding.  Don’t forget print media, get the Newspapers talking about your project that will also drive traffic to you campaign.

So in conclusion be cool, be popular – and put some spin on it. People won’t fund you to go and look for dinosaur fossils for an academic research project – but they will fund a ‘Dinosaur Hunt’

Hopefully I haven’t done Patrick to much of an injustice in this blog post, it really was a great session, I know I learned a lot from attending and this blog post is really just a very short summary of the bits that sparked my attention.

On a side not – if your interested in creating a compelling ‘call to action’ the thing that makes people fund your project right there and then, rather than coming back later this is a great talk:

http://vimeo.com/27056169

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