Kickstarter. I’ve never tried raising money for a project from it though. I have supported three projects now through it. And 2 out of the 3 times, I felt like I was courted, put out, but never got called back the next day- a one night stand if you will. I don’t feel I’ve gotten burned at all since even at small amounts I practice some due diligence (laid out below), but I am annoyed that they don’t communicate something obviously people are passionate about.
I believe there’s two key reason this one-night stand effect occurs and much of it stems from an immaturity and inexperience by the project leader in the best-practices of fund-raising. But I also believe as the case with the single successful time I’ve worked with somone, the filmmaker can correct it. And I’m not talking about just films since Kickstarter is used for a variety of projects.
Each time I supported a project, communication was at an all-time high. As the filmmaker was raising money, they were constantly in touch with their supporters with updates, progress reports, new developments, etc. However, once the money was raised, I got my “credit” for whatever level I gave at then communication ceased. Complete silence. I have no idea what the status is of project #1, I hear about project #2 indirectly and most about their perpetual lack of money and project #3 has been great to be involved with.
Look, we gave to your project because we liked it. I mean, we really liked it. We liked it enough to write you a check, make a donation, send you boxes of mac and cheese, whatever. We didn’t gain interest in your project because we were looking to give out money to some stranger (tax write-off or not), we gained interest because we liked your film, the idea, the concept etc. It’s simply downright rude to blow of people who give even $25 bucks. They’re making the extra effort to say, “I believe in your project” and you’re turning around telling them, well, I only communicated with you to get your money. Your financial supporters are likely the last persons you want to ignore because they were (once) your biggest fans.
It doesn’t matter if some gave you $25 or $2500. They expect you to use the money as you’ve laid out (and if you haven’t laid that out, go back to school). Additionally, you’re reading this now saying to yourself, but all they expect is their credit/CD/t-shirt/letter from mom- I don’t owe them anything more than that. If that’s you’re thinking, you’re just a user and need go back to school.
You’re spending someone else’s money. It doesn’t matter how they gave it to you with or without strings attached. They expect you to use it as intended. While I don’t believe anybody that I’ve supported is disingenuous (as I’ve met them or talked to them at length), I’ve yet to see (save for one) any movement on any project. Or, and this goes back to my communication point, any direct communication of how that project is doing.
Let people know what and how you’re doing. They could help on your next film or help more on the current film. If they believe that much in a project, they’re worth the time to communicate regularly throughout the life of a project. It makes them feel good about their investment, makes you feel good about taking their money, continues a forward momentum of social involvement and let’s people know that you are working to make your project happen and you’re an honest chap…because you are, right?
PS: A couple quick tips for those that like to be philanthropic on any scale via Kickstarter:
Meet the guy/girl/people behind the project before giving them anything. They can afford a Skype call since it’s free.
Don’t give to people you’re not 100% confident about after talking with them.
When you talk to them, ask about a business plan or overall strategy for their project. You may find they haven’t thought it through completely, or don’t have a plan and have a great idea but “guess” it’ll cost ‘x’ amount.
Ask them if they have a budget laid out so they even know they have the correct amounts they’re trying to raise.
Ask if they have a mailing list or newsletter and ask them about regular updates.
Finally, ask to see how your money is spent 3, 6, or 12 months down the road. You’re giving to help them get a project going/completed. You’re not just giving them money for the hell of it.
None of this is unreasonable, even if you’re giving the person only $20- unless of course, you really, truly don’t care and like throwing money at strangers. In that case, I’ll send you my PayPal account info. I’m always working on SOMETHING 😉