Crowd funding (or crowdfunding) is fantastic way to jumpstart fundraising for your documentary.
Basically it means you are raising money with a “crowd” or you are asking numerous individuals (a crowd of people) to each give a little so that it adds up to a lot. For example, you ask 100 people to each donate $100 which ads up to $10,000.
Since most documentary filmmakers work independently without the backing of a studio, and because grants can be tough to get, crowdfunding has become a popular choice for many doc producers. It’s a great way to not only launch your fundraising effort, but also to test the viability of your documentary idea.
Crowd funding has become synonymous with sites like IndieGogo and KickStarter, but you can certainly conduct your own crowd funding campaign on your own website and/or through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Personally, I like the “all-or-nothing” format for a documentary fundraising campaign where you set a specific goal (say $5,000) to be raised within a specific timeframe (say 25 days) and if the goal is not reached, you get nothing. That’s right, all the money people pledged for your film is given BACK to them if the goal is not reached. This aspect of KickStarter makes a lot of filmmakers nervous. But I think it’s what makes the model so brilliant.
That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with conducting a fundraising campaign without the “crisis element”. If your documentary idea is strong, you have a compelling trailer and you do adequate promotion, you can raise thousands of dollars.
Documentary filmmaking team Jilann Spitzmiller and Hank Rogerson (instructors here at Desktop Documentaries) recently completed a crowd funding campaign with IndieGoGo and raised more than $20,000 for their latest documentary STILL DREAMING.
Keep in mind that KickStarter and IndieGoGo keep a percentage of the funds you raise. Considering they are providing a ready-made system for you, it seems to me a fair trade.
Crowd funding is covered in much more detail in my Documentary Fundraising 101 Course.
Learn from 10+ experts about film funding, including Seed&Spark Founder Emily Best ("Why people fail at crowdfunding") and filmmaker Spike Lee who raised $1.4-million on Kickstarter. Thanks to Film Courage for this amazing compilation.
Learn more about documentary fundraising.
You can certainly do a crowdfunding campaign on your own using your own website or the website of a supporter. The benefits of using something like KickStarter is that they have everything set up and ready to go for you. And it gives your project credibility by posting your project on a professional platform. In addition, they get huge amounts of traffic to their sites which could result in additional donations.
However, by doing a campaign on your own website, you could potentially save a chunk of cash in fees. But you really need to feel confident in your ability to bring people to your site and then have a good system in place to take their donation, gather contact info and thank them.
What lessons have your learned with crowdfunding? What works? What doesn't? Got a crowdfunding question? Share your crowdfunding questions and stories here.
Click below to read about other people's experiences with crowdfunding.
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Crowdfunding - with Jennifer Fox and Katherine Nolfi
Jennifer Fox's newest documentary film MY REINCARNATION raised $150,456 via Kickstarter, more than any other completed film in the history of the crowdfunding …