In our last blog, Katharina Reinthaller discussed the trials and tribulations of funding and fundraising, but also their importance in mounting any production, festival or event within the theatre and arts industry. Throughout our planning and development, we have mounted a five-prong attack, the fifth of which is crowdfunding.

The term itself is a slightly elusive one, sitting somewhere between the formal notion of fundraising, and the more open and informal appeal of social media. It is precisely that which, I believe, is what works in its favour. Crowdfunding exists to provide an unobtrusive way for the project organisers (director, producer etc.) to approach a wide network of potential supporters, through an easy-to-manage campaign page with an appeal for small amounts of money (£5, £10…£100, £200) as opposed to huge sums. Asking for money is always tricky, so going about it on a smaller scale makes it a simple and accessible way for family, friends, colleagues, and interested potential donors to provide sponsorship for a project without too much faff and fuss. Small donations provided by a wide network can raise a fair proportion of a project budget. With the social media ‘share’ button only a click of a finger away, and a huge crowd of possible funders out there, isn’t it a perfect tool to bring in those all-important funds?

As with everything in the realms of fundraising, there are pitfalls. The major crowdfunding sites, including Kickstarter, Sponsume and Wefund, have a number of requirements that need to be fulfilled, and beyond those there are several elements which need to be conducted well if you want your campaign to succeed. Produce a poor campaign video which has little to no connection with your project (they do exist!), write and present an unclear or convoluted project description, or fail to research and reach out to your potential audience, and your campaign might well fall flat on its face.

So, how can these problems be avoided? No crowdfunding campaign is devoid of risk, but put the effort in, allocate a solid amount of time to its preparation and do your research – and then you are more likely to succeed than flounder.

Research other crowdfunding pages, the good, the bad and the ugly, and you’ll get a feel for what works and what doesn’t. For me, the best have been clean, clear and to-the-point. I can read the page and have a good grasp of what I may or may not want to donate to. Use headers, use questions, use bullet points, where appropriate, and it all becomes more user-friendly.

Crucially, be clear about how much you want to raise and what the funds will go towards; there’s nothing worse for a potential donor than wondering where the money’s going. Transparency can be underrated.

And then there’s the video or trailer. There are many approaches, but those which are simple, open and communicate what the project is about are infinitely more appealing than those which shut the audience out. It really doesn’t need to be super high-tech.

Last of all, spend time researching and thinking about your audience and how you will get your campaign page out to them, by Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or word-of-mouth? And how can they get to know you and your project? After all, it is all about the social side of things as much as it is about raising funds. And maybe it’s possible to achieve both.

If you want to check out  our crowdfunding page, get ideas or maybe donate (we hope so!) then take a look…

Jude Evans

Photo by Flickr user James Cridland under a Creative Commons licence.