Lunchtime Lecture: How to Fund-Raise for Creative Projects
(A talk I gave at USM on Friday 21st October 2011)
The internet is an important tool for reaching a wider audience with your art, and also for finding funding for your projects.
This can be an alternative to – or a supplement to – applying for artist grants, whether for travel, materials, or equipment.
Successful Online Fund-Raising projects have several things in common:
* They are appealing to people outside your field, i.e. the project and language they use is simple, clearly written
* Good for niches where people have a passion and will invest in it
* The goals are apparent and appealing
* Funding options range from small to large dollar amounts, and provide a good value for funders
* It is somehow bigger than the person/organization who is asking for money (it's not 'Me, Me, Me')
* They are easy to share online (YouTube, Facebook, Email, Twitter, Blog, Website)
* Giving money makes donors feel good
* The person asking for money has already completed other projects (a good track record)
What to think about:
* How is this project going to help others?
* What will it bring to the world / allow to happen, that couldn't happen any other way?
* How can I convince people that I am trustworthy (i.e. that I'll follow through with the rewards and the project)
Here are eight creatives who have raised funds online:
1. Sarah Lacy is a student who has attended workshops in France, after successfully raising thousands of dollars online. Find out more on her fundraising page.
She gives 3 ways to donate:
1. Buying artwork
2. $20 to sign up for 6 months of exclusive updates: a way to "hit the road" with her virtually
3. "Want to send me more than $20 but don’t want to buy any artwork? Rock on. The button below is the one you need."
Why she's successful:
* She gives 5% back to charity – and the charity helps promote her artwork
* She's posts flattering photos of herself and her artwork. This makes her message more personal and appealing.
* She uses social media – a LOT!
* Builds up her mailing list — and uses it
2. Another artist who funds her projects in creative ways is Movana Chen.
For international creatives like us, a good way to raise funds is the website, IndieGogo.com
Here's what you need to set it up:
* Website for project (or blog)
** Facebook page
** Paypal — Here's how to open an account in Malaysia.
This is a great project on Southeast Asian punk. Why?
* They have incentives for companies and musicians: "You can make a donation on behalf of yourself, your company or your band."
* They give credentials for their project: "We are supported by ALS TDI of North America and the MND Association of Great Britain."
But: They could use more affordable rewards. Small donations of US $5 to $50 can really add up. Most people using IndieGoGo are from North America or Europe. Because we live outside these zones, it's a good idea to have electronic rewards like e-books and other downloads available for smaller rewards, then inter-continental postage is not such a factor.
Another good project: 4. STATELESS: A film about Vietnamese refugees in the Philippines Watch the video here.
Why is this project likely to succeed?
* The video is well put together. Lots of tension. You want to know what happens to the refugees featured in the film.
* The US has a large Vietnamese-American community in California which will be invested in the story, which the director has already tapped into for past films.
* The director has already worked on previous, documented projects
* An excellent reward for just $20 — A copy of "Stateless" work in progress (people really like to feel involved in the production of a work)
5. Successful fundraising story: Villiers Quartet: Haydn & Beyond
Why did they succeed?
* A short video with their goals stated clearly (a simple but effective video!)
* Very good rewards, particularly the $500 sponsorship – excellent idea for a business to be able to advertise
* Very reasonable goal for project
* Philanthropists in this field are typically generous
6. Successful project: "Road to Hong Kong" – Travel expenses for a filmmaker to go to HK
Why did it succeed?
* Engaging writing
* No video but a fantastic photo of the filmmaker that really showed his personality:
* He had already done the legwork and gotten accommodation covered, had lots of contacts to meet, etc.
* Had a track record of success with other projects
Goal: $1,600. Raised: $2,252
Why did it succeed?
* This project appeals to a wide variety of interests (face-painting, murals)
* She gives quick, easy-to-read information about Kyrgyzstan and why it's a good place for project
* LOTS of updates
* Very reasonably-priced rewards
* She was investing in the project, too: fundraising was just for plane ticket, not all travel expenses and supplies
This is why I would have funded the project, had I found it sooner: " There are plenty of artists in the largest cities in the world, but not many who are traveling to places that really need and want it. "
One to learn from. It had a great concept, with
* An engaging video (if somewhat low-res)
* Excellent visuals featuring rewards
* perhaps the artist didn't follow through enough with social media
* didn't give enough explanation of what the project's goals were
* should have sought out an English-language proofreader (his English was unclear for online audiences)
* Could have gone bilingual to tap into Spanish-speaking audiences
I'll introduce my online fundraising project, as soon as it goes live.
Here's a preview:
Blue Elephant. Straightforward Cyanotype print on handmade paper, 29.7 x 21 cm(11.7 x 8.3 in), Number 1 of 15. US $225
Prints from an illustrated travel book on handmade paper, called:
Paper Pilgrimage: Bombs, Bandits, and a Vanishing Art in Southeast Asia, to be released in 2012 by ThingsAsian Press
This elephant is one of many at the Lampang Conservation Center in northern Thailand. One program I visited there transforms elephant dung into biofuel and handmade paper. The special edition of my book includes a sample of the elephant dung paper.
This print is being sold to raise funds for the special edition of my book. It will be printed on handmade Thai paper, hand-bound in golden Vietnamese silk, and have paper samples from 9 people and places featured in the book.
More info coming soon.