Crowdfunding: How Many Times Can You Do It?

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photo 1How many times can you ask people for money?

If you’re a theatre company or a nonprofit of some kind it’s expected that you’ll continually be fundraising. But if you’re someone who has used crowdfunding to make a movie, or a web series or a book, (things that are not a business that continues to make product) how many times can you go back and ask people to give you money for something?

Like many things in the crowdfunding sphere I feel like this is a balancing act. I have done three successful campaigns in four years. My latest project, the feature Diani And Devine Meet The Apocalypse is in post production and will be delivering soon depending on festival acceptance.

Personally I do not feel like you should do another crowdfunding campaign if your last one hasn’t delivered yet. That’s just me though. If you have campaigns with different groups of people or you’re tangentially involved with someone else’s campaign and now you’re doing your own then that’s different. But part of the responsibility you take on as someone who is taking money is delivering what you said you would. Not necessarily on time (things always take longer than you think they will) but you do need to deliver.

On the other hand building your mailing list and your fan base is the new self-producing paradigm. Not returning to the audience you spent so much effort cultivating is foolish.

There is also the idea that crowdfunding is marketing. We did a Kickstarter for the Limited Theatrical Release of my first film The Selling as the marketing campaign. We funded the purchase of the DVD’s, posters, theatres and some deliverables through the Kickstarter. We sold tickets and DVD’s as incentives and were able to reach more people and build more excitement because of the Kickstarter model. We wouldn’t have been able to afford a real marketing campaign any other way and we had just spent years making a movie we wanted people to see. This model is something to consider even if you have the funds to simply make your project. Getting it out there is much harder than simply announcing “Here I Am!”

Something I really noticed on my latest campaign is that there is a little bit of crowdfunding fatigue in the arts community. There are still people out there who view it as free money. IT IS NOT. It also seems like EVERYBODY is doing a crowdfunding campaign. The attitude used to be “You’re doing what? AMAZING!!!” and now the attitude is “Great. Another one.” This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t crowdfund. It just means you have to do better to stand out. So if you’re someone whose social circle has a lot of crowdfunders then maybe saving your social capital for that really special project is the way to go. On the other hand, you can’t build an audience without getting yourself out there and sometimes starting with small projects to build your personal brand and mailing list is the smartest thing. Balancing act.

If you do decide to return to crowdfunding you’re in good company. Kickstarter just released some great data on returning creators. 12% of all creators have done more than one project and returnees have an almost doubled success rate from the site average. That’s pretty great.

So it seems like the answer to my question is go ahead. Ask again. Will I? Probably. After the very difficult campaign I had for Diani And Devine Meet The Apocalypse I hoped I would never have to. But little book projects and web series ideas keep popping up and I’m not in a position to pay for them myself. So… When every last incentive is fulfilled for my last campaign I might press that launch project button again. But maybe for less than $100,000 this time. That was a killer.

Etta Devine

About Etta Devine

Etta Devine is an actor and content creator. Along with her partner, Gabriel Diani, she is responsible for "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn {Robotic Edition}" the web series "Mary Olson" (1.3 million hits on YouTube), and the comedy team Diani & Devine. Their feature film "The Selling" is currently out on DVD and they are hoping to shoot their second feature this year. Want to invest?