Crowdfunding for the Arts – Part Two
Last week we wrote a post offering suggestions and considerations for how organizations present themselves and their projects when using an online crowdfunding platform.
Having spoken about how we represent ourselves, this second part shifts focus to what it is we have to offer and who it is we're offering it to:
3. The Perks
The difference between crowdfunding and a traditional donation campaign is that crowdfunders expect to receive something in return. Therefore, prior to launching a campaign, an organization must consider what their audience in particular will find valuable.
Would they desire something tangible such as a ticket? Would they prefer public acknowledgement of their support through a producer credit? Do they want to feel a special connection to the organization by being invited to an elite, exclusive event like a meet-and-greet or dinner? Ultimately, the perks offered should flow naturally from those elements of the organization or project that are most exciting (for additional ideas, Indiegogo offers a great list).
For organizations who have been in existence for a long time and who are mounting a project that has previously existed in some capacity, perks are the last chance to differentiate the crowdfunding campaign from all the work that came before.
A good example of this is Dances for a Small Stage - a series that has existed for more than 10 years in Vancouver. For the 28th installation in the series, they used Indiegogo to introduce advanced ticketing, reserved tables, and bottle service, all of which were completely new offerings for the decade-old series!
4. The Audience
One of the pitfalls of crowdfunding is succumbing to a Field of Dreams mentality (ie. If you build it, they will come). Having the page up is simply not enough. An organization needs to know both who their target audience is, and how it is they will reach them.
First of all, an organization should look at their Facebook, Twitter, and email lists, as these will be their most immediate means of driving traffic. Next, the organization staff or project team should look at their personal networks (both online and offline) and utilize these to spread the word.
Third, they should evaluate the project itself, considering whether there are any organizational allies, community groups, or social circles who would have a particular interest in the project. Once these groups are identified, they should be approached and asked to share the information via their channels.
Assuming the organization and project descriptions are well composed, and that the perks speak to the target audience, the campaign should be passed along via Facebook and Twitter quickly.
Established organizations face an additional challenge when reaching out, as they are very likely to already have approached their main audience during a donation campaign. Rather than ask this same group to give twice, they should consider how a crowdfunding campaign can be utilized to introduce them to new audiences.
Ultimately, the elements that make for a successful crowdfunding campaign are the same that make for an successful marketing campaign: compelling descriptions of the organization and project, the promise of a reward (experiential, tangible, or otherwise), and making a connection with the right audience.