I recently attended in Dublin a DubWeb Festival founded by Mikael Thiery and co-directed by Erol Mustafov geared mostly towards filmmakers, theatre producers and music makers. There were several talks and the one about ‘how to crowdfund for web series‘ caught my attention.
It was a discussion with industry experts and award-winning series makers (see picture below) .Their pieces of advice were valuable for any start-ups looking to fund their businesses or their products and services’ launch.
Crowdfundingis mainly used to fundraise for specific activities, campaigns or launches, and the talks were talking about this aspect. Consequently, this post will discuss the different platforms and ways to get your audience engaged and willing to support you financially. Nonetheless, please note that you can crowdfund to validate your ideas.
But first thing first, if you want to crowdfund and make a success out of the campaign, you will need to make sure your audience is online and your product or service is suitable for that target market (language, culture).
Then you will have to work hard to create a buzz around it.
To do this, please follow these steps:
Create convincing and creative video and content pitches.
Select the most appropriate crowdfunding platform for your audience. If you want to target niche audiences for film production, consider one of these: VRV for Fantasy films, Shutter, Patreon. Otherwise, the main platforms are Indigogo and Kickstarter.
Understand how the chosen crowdfunding platform works. For eg, Indigogo is available worldwide. With it, you can either get the money only if you reach your fundraising goal or get whatever money you crowdfunded even if you haven’t hit your goal. If you use Kickstarter, remember it’s available in only 34 countries and you can only cash in the fundraised monies if you have reached your goal.
Keep in mind the charged fees by the crowdfunding platform as well as the taxes you will have to claim as income (tax). Generally speaking, there is a 3-5 % processing fee + a 5 % fee once the fundraising campaign ends.
Set a fundraising goal that will cover all your costs.
Entice your audience to donate and become your fans by offering rewards. Some rewards may be posted (merchandising such as DVDs, T-shirts…), so keep in mind that these incur extra costs. If you want to keep these costs down, you may offer your donors free release of some of your web series’ episodes, for instance.
Leverage your superfans by offering them VIP rewards to post out.
Create a sense of emergency by offering special rewards released as the crowdfunding campaign goes.
Get in touch with your existing network.
Feed information on social media by sharing snippets of your story.
Build awareness of your campaign by organising your own offline or online events. You could start by creating a big live event: live show, music video, tours/trip, podcast, free food/drinks night, special invites to parties. Any possible hooks to gather more fans will be valuable.
Get in touch with PR companiesfor press releases.
Think about sponsorship for further brand exposure. However, remember that these will not provide you with financial support (instead, you will receive gifts-in-kind and discounts) and may not care too deeply about your brand, while your fans from crowdfunding will.
Network to find potential angel investors at conferences and conventions related to your type of business. For eg, for filmmakers, they could attend Comecon.
Here are few general tips to follow to successfully fundraise through music. But remember, there are always many options to choose from when it comes to fundraising.
1. Write a song for the cause. You can directly raise money to support fundraising by publishing the song as a single and selling downloads to your friends, at a local coffee shop — anywhere! Don’t forget to advertise the song along with what it is supporting. If people like the song, they will be intrigued and more likely to check out the cause.
For that, you need to ensure that the lyrics aren’t inappropriate since you will need to target different age groups. Indeed, donors aren’t necessarily the youngest crowd. So, keep in mind that individual incomes are strongly linked to donated amounts and more often than not, the oldest donors are the most generous. Consequently, do not rule them out.
The song lyrics should also be strongly related to the charity message so that the message doesn’t get lost. Besides, your song must be strongly related to the charity message, so that the message doesn’t get lost. The song must strike an emotion, to appeal to the audience.
2. If you are not part of a charity and want to fund-raise for one, try to select a popular charity. Generally speaking, those who look after health matters are more praised and attractive than others.
3. Spread the words. If you don’t want to sell a song, post a link to it for free! The more you send it around, and encourage others to pass it on, the more you can increase awareness drastically just by getting people interested in a cool tune. Include a description or link to the cause with the song so people are inspired to click, read, and support.
As you understood, it’s highly recommended to have an online presence, whether through social media, or website. Having an interactive fundraising page with videos, pictures and allowing online payments by credit/debit cards or PayPal, would be greatly beneficial for your campaign. You need to remember to offer payment convenience to your donors. So, if you are not online, at least think about street collections and leaflets distributions. You can either offer an online download or physical CD. But as mentioned above, a shareable online link can spread faster and further and become more viral than a street campaign.
4. Send newsletters including ways to support, as well as a link to a song pertaining to the cause. Even if it is not your song, you can still inspire people to help by capturing their attention through the song.
Here, make sure your customise your message to each individual to appeal to their needs and interests. Also, did you know that the most-read part of a letter is the PS? That’s why you should never omit it, and why it should say whatever is the most important thing you have to say. If you opt for direct mail, get friendly with the Postal Service. Learn their strange ways. Speak their language. It can save you a lot of trouble and money.
5. Put on a show! Find a few local bands or solo acts willing to do a festival or a concert event and sell tickets to raise money. The artists get to show their skills and have the opportunity to increase their fan base while playing a fun show that benefits a cause.
Coming back to the point we previously mentioned about age groups, remember to organise a family-friendly event by making the right choice of band. For more visitors, choose something all age groups can listen to, such as soft rock or choirs.
6. Look for sponsors, if you can, as this will spread the message to the community a little quicker. If you have Public Relations contact, reach them out to request a press release. Engage with both donors and sponsors, if you want to make this event successful. Try to meet their expectations and they will be more likely to contribute more to your organisation!
7. Create a songwriting contest to compete in to target a young audience. Encourage people to write and submit a song for the cause. You can sell tickets to support the cause. There can be a prize for the winner and the added benefit is increasing awareness for the cause through the mere interest and buzz about the contest. For an older crowd, you may opt for raffle tickets sales or ask them to vote for their favourite song, too.
8. Thank everyone. When you thank a donor or a sponsor, you complete the circle. When you don’t, you’re like a mail-order company that doesn’t send what people pay for.
9. Communicate the results of the fund-raising effort and be transparent how the money is going to be invested. The public will not trust your charity/organisation unless you communicate in a transparent manner how their monies will be used.
10. Remember the overall objective: fundraising is about passion, relationship, connection — and love. To avoid disappointing anyone, make sure you keep track of your budget. This will increase the chances of success and give your organisation a sense of reliability, responsibility and reputation. After the event, make sure you keep in touch with your donors and try to get them to subscribe for a long-term continuous contribution (instead of one-off).
11. f you feel stuck with time and uncertain about how to do an online campaign, you may decide to associate yourself with a social media/web design agency specialised in this type of music fundraising campaign like this one: