Crowdfunding is seen as a panacea for the current shortage of funding experienced by nonprofits everywhere and across all fields, including the arts. But before launching into “the good, the bad and the uglies” of crowdfunding…
This infographic is a FAVE because it not only highlights the best crowdfunding platforms for nonprofits, but also the fees/costs associated with using these platforms. (NOTE: the fees for Razoo.com will soon go up to 4.9%, but that includes credit card processing so it’s still a relative bargain.) Plus, this infographic shows which sites include social media integration – a real time saver.
OK, now the truth about crowdfunding, not only in ArtSpark’s opinion, but in ArtSpark’s experience assisting artists and arts orgs with over a dozen crowdfunding campaigns (all of which were successful, by the way…).
- the word campaign is correct: a crowdfunding campaign is like a political campaign – it’s intense, full of nail-biting moments, highs and lows, takes LOTS of time, needs LOTS of planning beforehand, and then there’s fulfilling all those campaign promises afterwards (if you reach your funding goal, remember there may be “rewards” to fulfill like getting everyone a free download of your music, or making sure your top donors get invited to opening night, etc.)
- Crowdfunding is NOT a sustainable way to keep $$ flowing to you/your organization. It’s great for a very cool project, but not for ongoing creative work or operating expenses (like kickstarter.com says: it’s just a “kickstart”)
- Crowdfunding campaigns need others’ help, and A LOT of it. You’ll need people to help you plan, get the word out repeatedly on social media (all channels), feed you when you’ve gone 24+ hours without stopping or drinking anything but coffee, and soothe you when you’re convinced that it’s not going to work (which often happens right before you actually reach/surpass your funding goal). Oh, and don’t forget that these campaigns take more time and energy than you ever thought possible, so you may need to ask coworkers to pitch in a bit more or, even better, take time off from work, especially avoiding any deadlines.
- Crowdfunding demands that you ask everyone and anyone for $$, because it IS true that it takes a little bit of $$ from a lot of people to make your campaign successful. This means you pester your family, your work-mates, your friends, your acquaintances, the friendly person behind the counter where you shop, your Facebook friends (but don’t tweet your followers more than a few times… only to announce the launch, mid-point and successful end…), etc. etc. Let go of your pride, your shyness and your fear of asking – and this experience will make you a better fundraiser forever!
- Remember that crowdfunding is only one part of keeping you/your organization afloat. Think broadly and strategically about fundraising, including both online and in-person strategies.
- READ about crowdfunding – there are lots of resources online, including many testaments from people who have tried it, both succeeding and failing. Learn from their successes and failures.