Write On! Choosing A Crowdfunding Site
by Frank Colin, Gulture.com

Frank Colin Gulture

Many writers, filmmakers, and other creatives consider using crowdfunding sites to help raise funds for their projects. These sites allow creatives to pitch their projects to the public, using a mix of video, images, and text, so that funds can be collectively raised. Like PBS or NPR fund drives, potential patrons are offered cumulative “rewards” or “perks” at levels determined by the amount they contribute.

The main crowdfunding sites are IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. IndieGoGo was founded in 2008, Kickstarter in 2009. Both have raised millions of dollars for thousands of projects. Recently, Kickstarter had some headline grabbing projects, such as an iPod Nano watch that raised nearly $1 million; their goal was to raise $15,000.

That is the exception, however, rather than the rule. Many projects attempt to raise less than $3,000. Regardless of the goal, most fail to reach it.

I was asked by producer/director Mary Kerr to help her set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise finishing money for a two-part documentary she’d been shooting on and off over the last 15 years about the untold story of the California Beat Era. She has self-funded the project until now and the docs are now complete and edited. She needs to raise $8,500 to add audio sweetening, pay her editor, create a boxed set of DVDs with bonus materials, etc. So, off I went to do my due diligence.

The biggest difference between the two is that in order to receive contributions at the end of the campaign, you have to make or surpass your goal on Kickstarter (all or nothing), whereas IndieGoGo dispenses whatever funds have been pledged, whether or not the goal is reached (any money raised is yours). Kickstarter takes a 5% fee; IndieGoGo takes 4% if the goal is reached and 9% if it is not.

In addition, Kickstarter requires contributors to use Amazon Payments (limiting contributors to those who have a US bank account or a US address); IndieGoGo accepts direct credit card or PayPal.

Check both sites FAQs for more details, and decide which is right for you and your project.

Ultimately, we went with IndieGoGo, since Mary wanted to be able to receive whatever funds are contributed.

The process for both is the same:

1. Decide how much money to raise and set the goal.

2. Determine how long it may take you to reach the goal (up to 120 days).

3. Post a project and create a pitch.

4. Offer gifts and perks to donors, based on how much they contribute.

5. Share your pitch with others.

In the pitch video, description text, and the perk levels, being clear and clever is a big plus. For example, here’s one campaign for a book on design and another by a musician.

Perhaps the most important part of a campaign is what you do after you launch: marketing and sharing the pitch to others. Both of the examples had a built in fan base to start and that helped considerably.

I’ll discuss our campaign strategy in a future article.

To view the details of Mary’s project, go to Swinging in the Shadows. For the Los Angeles locals, there’s a screening at Beyond Baroque in Venice, on Sunday, April 17. (Note: This is not a plea for contribution,s rather an example of how we are using the service.)

Here are links to a few other articles about the differences in their programs:
http://www.alchemistintraining.com
http://paidcontent.co.uk
http://www.blog.filmarmy.org/
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A veteran of both the entertainment and software industries, Frank Colin founded the first company that marketed and distributed a variety of software productivity tools specifically designed for film and television production. He has overseen the development and marketing of more than three-dozen successful software products and internet services, including Final Draft.

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4 Comments

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  1. Tonya Van Dijk 6 years ago

    Very comprehensive. This article makes it easier for one to choose between Kickstarter and IndieGOGO.

    If you want to know these sites’ difference from other crowdfunding sites, you might want to take a look at this, http://crowdsourcing.org/l/505.

  2. Pauli 6 years ago

    You are mistaken. The Amazon payments issue limits persons seeking funding on the platform to those who have a US bank account or a US address — contributors may live and bank just about anywhere in the world.

  3. Frank Colin 6 years ago

    Yes, that is correct, Pauli. It’s yet another hoop to jump through on Kickstarter, but it can certainly be done.

  4. […] You by D.B. Gilles, author of You’re Funny! Turn Your Sense of Humor into a Lucrative New Career Choosing a Crowdfunding Site by Frank […]

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