It was a talk by Sally Hodgson, a few years ago, about her work for Jeanie Finley’s film Sound It Out, that opened my eyes to crowd funding for creative projects. They had used IndieGoGo, successfully. [I think Sally’s talk was at one of the Media Camp Nottingham events, but I can’t find the link. But you can hear a podcast of her talking about it to Chris Jones, or read Jeanie’s account. Note that some of the details of the funding platforms have changed since those posts were made.] Before Sally’s talk, I had only heard of the Kickstarter platform, and I thought it was mainly for manufacturing or similar startups, typically for funding for tooling or components for a project like the reinvention of the [bicycle] wheel by local product designer Sam Pearce. In fact I was completely wrong – almost all Kickstarter projects are more like Sound It Out, in one field or another. And there are other platforms. And the USA centric mechanisms have been eased or removed, making this an option for UK creatives.
There are several platforms for crowd funding: Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Sponsume are just three. Typically a project has a period of time to obtain pledges for contributions, and if the target total is not reached, no money changes hands, the project “fails”. [Some platforms allow partial success.] Also typically there are perks or goodie bags promised to supporters, additive as the size of the contribution rises. For example the White Lily short film project, by Adrian Reynolds & Tristan Ofield will send everyone who contributes £7 a “Downloadable EP with 3 versions of the jazz standard My Funny Valentine” and for £10 a “Download of the film. This is what we’re here for, and you can experience it for yourself. Hold a premiere in your home.” And for £1000 you will be one of the Executive Producers. So depending on the size of your bank balance, by pledging money to an arts project you are helping create new work, and the perks can be quite enjoyable in their own right.
The number of local projects on Kickstarter UK changes almost daily. On Bank Holiday Monday there are four open projects, two of which have exceeded their target. Kickstarter is “all or nothing”, if the project doesn’t get sufficient pledges, it is canceled and no money is contributed. This is what happened, sadly, to the innovative idea by AEDA Arts Academy to fund scholarships for two children. The live ones are:
- QU-SH-UG Casting Fundraiser by Pure Evil Miniatures (Damien Sparkes)
- ArcWorlde – The Fantasy Skirmish Wargame (Warploque Miniatures)
- White Lily by Adrian Reynolds & Tristan Ofield
- Publishing the Chronicles of Celadmore in UK by C S Woolley
And three recent successfully funded projects:
- The Monkey and the Mouse: Where’s The Cheese? by Kev Brett
- Brothers of Iron by Curtis Fell
- Laika – Robotics for Raspberry Pi or other Computer Device by eightdog
I couldn’t find any local projects on IndieGoGo, and just one on the Sponsume platform for the Game Show film by John Edwards.
Kickstarter UK opened on 31 October last year, removing the USA bureaucracy barriers of the original site for British creatives. I asked Phil Campbell, who successfully used Kickstarter UK to fund his Pi Street initiative, what it was like to set up. He said:
The verification took a good ten days to get sorted out regards bank account transfer details but apart from that it was pretty straight forward. It’s a lot of work, the focus is all about the video, clean content (which on both we would do better on next time) and putting together good pledges. So lots of pre-prep. You have to be on it, every day, reaching out, newsletters, tweeting, retweeting. People are smart, if it’s a good idea they will support it. Be ready for questions and reply quickly.
Kev Brett, fresh from successfully funding The Monkey and the Mouse, told me:
In terms of signing up and creating your account is VERY easy as is the total set up of the campaign.
My tips to people starting a campaign would be DON’T FORGET THE POSTAGE!!! It’s easy to overlook that people will pay and get rewards, but you have to remember to cover postage costs otherwise you’ll end up out of pocket and will a whole big pointless waste of time!
I never like asking friends for money or to support me financially BUT you’ll be surprised how many close friends and family want to support you and are interested in what you’re producing.
I think I got most of my pledges through social media. Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter and Facebook, especially for reaching people you don’t know but who’ll love what you’re doing.
I’d also say prepare your stretch goals in advance and try to have some mock ups ready just in case!
Lastly, DON’T GET GREEDY!!! Plan for what you need and cover all costs. Include some for your time etc but don’t get too carried away.
As well as tips from the experience of local creatives, Linda Frier at Coalesco accountants has blogged about their experience helping a games company get funding in Kickstarter USA. And further into the business side, there are also crowd funding platforms for copmpanies offering equity in exchange for finance, such as Seedrs and CrowdCube. These have different entry requirements and many investments are structured to obtain various tax benefits such as EIS and SEIS – an arcane world of their own.
Crowdfunding is working in Nottingham – is it for you?
John is one of our team of bloggers. When he is not saving up to join the crowd funding he can be reached on john AT creativenottingham.com and followed on Twitter @johnwithbeard