Why bother backing other people’s crowdfunding campaigns?

Understandably, a lot of people start out planning their own crowdfunding campaign by focusing on… their own crowdfunding campaign. If you’re thinking of launching a campaign, you might take a quick look over other live projects just to get an idea of what’s out there, but should you be actively backing other projects? Absolutely yes. Here’s why.

  1. Learn how to help your backers
    If you’ve never supported a crowdfunding campaign, it’s time to jump in. Go through the same process your backers will. How/when do I choose which reward I want? Do I need to create an account? Is it clear when my card will be charged? Once your campaign is live, you’ll need to provide plenty of practical support to your backers; if you already know where their points of confusion might be, or how to create an account on your chosen platform, you’ll be able to be much more help.

  2. Join an emotional journey
    A great crowdfunding campaign makes backers feel special, like they’re part of a wider community, contributing to something bigger. Back another campaign to get a sense of how they’re working to make you feel special – do you feel like you’re part of the team? Are their updates honest and informative? What are they getting right?

  3. Be part of the wider ecosystem
    Right now, when so many businesses and organisations are facing huge uncertainty, it benefits all of us to make sure there’s a thriving scene on the other side of all this. You may want to lead the field in what you do, but you need there to be a field. Support other projects operating in a similar area, even just with a pound or two, because working together is crucial.

  4. You scratch my back…
    Alright, this one’s a bit more self-interested, but it’s true – if you’re out there supporting other projects, the creators behind them may take more notice of yours and be happy to support you in turn when you go live. There’s a reason I didn’t list this one first; this is never a guarantee, but it’s worth a shot!

  5. Find out how not to do it
    You might back a campaign only to find that you feel dissatisfied with the process – maybe their updates aren’t informative, maybe you don’t feel part of a team, maybe your rewards are later than promised, or not what you expected. This is great – because it’s showing you how you can handle things differently. You can’t guarantee that nothing will go wrong with your project, but you can plan how to manage and communicate delays or changes.

Ready to get moving? Take a look at some of the live campaigns on Kickstarter, Crowdfunder, or Indiegogo. What catches your eye? Who’s doing something you love?

PS – want to make sure you’re getting your campaign started right? Let’s talk about how I can help – don’t miss your crucial pre-launch planning.

Crowdfunding in… not-lockdown?

This started life as a Twitter thread (you can find me on @artscrowdfundng there, though this was originally on @thejobreeze) – here it is in slightly tidied-up form.

Right now, there are a lot of crowdfunding campaigns live – and more being planned. Lots of people are (quite rightly) thinking about crowdfunding as a possible funding route, especially given lockdown closures, drops in consumer spending, behaviour changes, social restrictions for reopening spaces, etc. But is there anything specific you need to think about? (Spoiler: yes)

First: yours is not the only crowdfunding campaign your audiences are seeing. Even in ordinary times that’s true – but right now, doubly so. Businesses and creators are launching campaigns, but there are also SO many great causes who need money right now: charities, campaigning organisations, activism, legal costs, individual costs.

So remember, your audiences may not be willing to spend the same as they would have maybe last year. They may already have invested in a bunch of other projects, and may be making decisions about supporting charities/activist causes over gifts for themselves right now.

Second: familiarity, though, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Often, crowdfunding campaigns need to provide some handholding for backers and prospective backers – how payments work, when do I get my stuff, help I’ve forgotten my password, etc. If your audiences already know how the platform/s work, you don’t need to spend so much time on helping them with those admin issues (which frees you up to spend more time telling your story).

Third: your audiences may be facing their own financial uncertainty. Whatever their work situation under lockdown (furloughed? key worker? running a business?) they may not know if it’s about to get worse or better. Keep that in mind when pricing your rewards.

Fourth: as restrictions lift, people’s interaction with public spaces is going to be determined more by their own feelings than by government policy. So it’s hard to predict if and how and when they might be up for in-person events. If your work or your campaign genuinely relies on in-person events, then if you can, keep offering virtual options – a one-to-one Zoom masterclass, exclusive digital content – alongside it. Some people you’re hoping to reach may still be shielding or may be otherwise vulnerable and unable to attend events – don’t leave them out.

Fifth: remember your role in the ecosystem. Support other voices doing the same or related things – you’ll all benefit from having an infrastructure in place when everyone finally emerges. If you’re a venue, mention and promote other venues’ crowdfunding campaigns, for example.

Sixth and finally: the last few months have been really hard, for a lot of people, for a lot of reasons. Use your crowdfunding campaign to give them something to hope for, something to be excited about, something to feel positive about. We all need it right now.