Notes from a Crowdfunding Campaign…
I recently completed a crowdfunding campaign for my a documentary film project I’m working on called The Creative High focused on artists who have faced addiction. It was a 30 day campaign that required me to embark on a virtual search for donations from friends, family, colleagues and strangers willing to support my efforts to birth a creative idea. I sent group emails, personal messages, and posted on Facebook and Twitter most days of the campaign. Again and again, I asked people to give any form of donation. I posted pictures that might grab people’s attention, sent notes about the film’s progress and listed reasons to get involved and most importantly pledge to the project. — ‘You are supporting women in film! Independent film and local art matters! Help me start a new dialogue about addiction! Your donation will allow us to tell this person’s story! — It was exciting to be in the midst of the campaign and feel the energy around it, especially when encouraging comments would come in. I was lifted up when friends would share the Facebook posts or took the time to email people and ask them to donate as well. Each time a donation came in, I felt affirmed. It was especially thrilling when I got towards the end of the campaign and people helped the film team and I get over the hump, and then amazingly championed us to get beyond our goal.
It was a wild ride that also had its downsides. Those of you who have run your own crowdfunding campaign (or fundraising in any form) know firsthand that it can be tiring and often discouraging. The hardest part is the asking. Many people say no, ignore you or simply don’t respond. This is my second experience with a crowdfunding campaign. My first involved funding a performance about my personal story with grief. This performance campaign was emotionally draining and incredibly vulnerable. Every time I would solicit for the money, I felt exposed and fearful that I was putting people off and being ‘needy’. Thoughts went through my head such as – ‘Why do you deserve this money? Shouldn’t this go to more worthy causes?’, ‘People are going to think that you are broke and don’t know how to take care of yourself financially.’, ‘Don’t annoy people with your asking and your project, i.e. don’t be too self-important’. Some of these same thoughts came up again with The Creative High campaign, but I make extra efforts to override my self-doubt and be persistent and consistent. I made the process fun and tried to help people understand the merit of what I was doing through the campaign. (That is also easier when you whole-heartedly believe in what you are doing, which is the case for me.) I also was informed from my earlier campaign. I discovered that most people didn’t even know it was happening. Many would forget about the campaign amongst the busyness of their lives, or they had good intentions to support but didn’t feel they had the money. Mostly I found that people were pleased and happy to watch the progress of the campaign and could join in the excitement with me when the campaign was gaining steam. I also learned very concretely that creating a buzz about something is what strong leaders can do.
We need people to spearhead projects, to make art and champion ideas – this is what makes the world go around. The only way this can happen is by the leader or the artist putting the idea out into the world in combination with people’s support and money. Therefore asking is a crucial element to success as described here in this quote by Millard Fuller, Founder of Habitat for Humanity, “I have tried raising money by asking for it, and by not asking for it. I always got more by asking for it.” What I also discovered is that many people do not understand that each
person’s donation matters – these kind of campaigns thrive on numbers. Every small amount adds up. What if every person who has friended me on Facebook had donated $10? Since I have about 1100 friends, that on its own would have raised $11,000. This is simple math, yet when truly reflected on illustrates the power of our efforts.
So, why a love letter to donors? Because I truly felt love and respect for each person who took the time to go to the campaign site, get out their credit card and fill out the form to help the film team and I launch our project. All 160 donors to the The Creative High campaign made the decision to support my idea and had some investment in making it become a reality. I have extreme gratitude for the larger donors, which is what really gets a campaign off the ground and give it momentum. Yet, I had a very significant moment when someone I did not know donated $5. My imagination led me to wonder if this person might be an artist who doesn’t have a lot of money, who possibly has also dealt with an addiction, and despite limitations wanted to offer their part. So, this donation and the other small donations of $5, $10 and $25 had an impact. One inch at a time these donations pushed us to the finish line. So, next time you see someone embarking on a crowdfunding campaign, put a little money into the hat. You might make someone’s life so much easier, or lift an impossible dream into a reality.
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” — Edmund Burke
The Creative High is a documentary film project about artists who have faced addiction. It aims to tell a new story through everyday artists who help to defy the stigma that still surrounds addiction. The crowdfunding campaign that Adriana Marchione spearheaded to gather seed money for project had a goal of $6500. With the help of her film team she raised $9100 at the end of the 30 days. People have continued to donate since the campaign’s end bringing the total up to $9850 at the time of this post. Now the major fundraising begins. A bare bones budget for a feature documentary of this caliber is $60,000. If you want to more information about the film go to the film website, www.thecreativehigh.com, where you also can make a donation of any amount. If you have interest in investing in the project in a broader fashion, contact Adriana directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is her second film. Her work in the arts spans a 30 year timeframe. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Self-Published February 2016