Relying on the crowd

by Jini Stolk

Crowd fundraising isn’t going away soon. Just keeping an eye on the various campaigns and approaches coming my way has been an engrossing pursuit.

I might as well say right now that one Indiegogo campaign I contributed to – which has been doing absolutely everything right and exceeded their $20,000 goal with 295 donors – is for Maureen Bradley’s award-winning feature film Two 4 One . It’s having its Toronto Premiere at the Inside Out Festival, May 30th at TIFF Bell Lightbox. How do I know that? Because I’ve been receiving regular, but not annoyingly regular, updates on the film’s progress and many triumphs.

There are some spectacular crowdfunding success stories, but by and large crowdfunding is hard, really hard. You need a compelling story, a reasonable goal (the average crowdfunding campaign raises $5,000 to $7,000, about the same as you’d get from those grant programs you’ve been applying to…) You need to line up seed funding (donations you secure before the campaign launches, by approaching some of your current donors and asking them to donate on campaign launch day.) You also need great connections (“Social Media is a critical factor in crowdfunding success: for every order of magnitude increase in Facebook friends (10, 100, 1000), the probability of success increases drastically (from 9%-, 20%, to 40%)”), the capacity for follow up and long term stewardship, and the ability to deliver on your gifts and other promises.

Again, it’s not easy. But it can be extremely exciting, if you know how to keep the energy high.

I’ve recently been following a Kickstarter campaign to equip a brand new, ground breaking Makerspace at 192 Spadina, CSI’s newest building. STEAMLabs promised discounts (on their kids programs) and rewards (such as deals on tools, t-shirts and unique laser-cut artwork by local artists) and much much more to contributors/investors/donors (which is right?) Their goal was to transform their 2500 square foot space on the ground floor of 192 Spadina from an empty shell into a thriving community hub, equipped with cutting edge tools for kids and adults. They asked supporters to help spread the word and follow them on Twitter and Facebook – as they should – and I just found out today that they exceeded their $20,000 goal!

I was also delighted to see that Meagan O’Shea raised over $12,000 from 54 backers of her Kickstarter campaign for We Don’t Need Another Hero, recently mounted at The Theatre Centre.

Like other major funding campaign strategies, crowdfunding done well raises awareness as well as funds. Two 4 One.

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