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Big Bucks Donated to the Arts via Crowdfunding

By Marcia Kaplan

While some people think that crowdfunding is just a fad and point to the problems with some of the physical product campaigns, Kickstarter, which funds mostly creative projects, estimated that it distributed more than $150 million in donated funds in 2012. That is larger than the annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts. And Kickstarter is just one crowdfunding platform. IndieGoGo has also helped raise millions of dollars for creative projects. With the downturn in grants, crowdfunding now rivals all other funding mechanisms for the arts. So if you are a painter, musician, playwright, screenwriter, film director, dancer, or photographer, it may be best to stop filling out those grant applications and turn your attention to crowdfunding.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, do some research. Lots of articles have been written about the topic and most crowdfunding platforms offer a good deal of assistance to help you get started. Undertaking a crowdfunding campaign is a work of art in itself. And the bar is most likely higher for creative projects. People will expect your campaign to be more polished.

For instance, if your campaign is to raise funds to make a film and your video is grainy with poor quality audio, you will not be taken seriously as a filmmaker and will not raise the funds you need. If you are a screenwriter and your project description is rambling, unfocused, and full of spelling errors, potential donors will not have confidence in your screenwriting abilities. Anyone can start a crowdfunding campaign. You have to convince potential donors that you know what you are doing and can bring your project to fruition.

There is also the issue of ethics. If you are going to collect money from donors for a specific purpose in a specific timeframe as required by crowdfunding rules, make sure you can deliver. You have to offer perks or rewards to donors and no matter how minimal, people expect you to deliver. Many people underestimate the time that has to be devoted to running a crowdfunding campaign. Make sure it is feasible for you in light of other commitments.

Running a successful campaign is becoming increasingly complex and time-consuming. In future blogs, I will cover the various platforms for the arts (Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are not the only alternatives), how to choose the right platform for your project, appealing perks, the importance of social media, and the optimum campaign length.

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