A guide from Blast Theory, an artists’ group based in Brighton, based on the research and learning from their crowdfunding campaign.
What is crowdfunding?
Crowdfunding has become increasingly popular over the last few years. It allows individuals and businesses to raise money for a project across a large number of people, where everyone pays a little to make your project happen. In return, they usually receive rewards – this can be the product you are raising money for, or a range of things from badges to T-shirts to bags to workshops.
Why did Blast Theory choose crowdfunding?
In partnership with Fabrica, Brighton’s leading art gallery, Blast Theory received Catalyst funding from Arts Council England in 2013 to build fundraising capacity and diversify income streams. The Catalyst partners had identified crowdfunding as an area to research and test, both as a fundraising and as an audience development tool.
We decided to run a crowdfunding campaign for new artistic app Karen. We had been researching and developing this app for two years with partners National Theatre Wales, as well as Professor Nina Reynolds and Dr Kelly Page, and decided to aim for £15,000 in order to fund the minimum amount of development time required to deliver a finished version.
The Catalyst funding allowed us to engage a fundraising consultant to advise on the initial strategy (alongside other initiatives) and employ a Crowdfunding Manager on a fixed-term basis to assist with the planning and running of the campaign, thereby minimising impact on business and creative operations.
The internet is rife with crowdfunding blogs, videos and tips on what to do and what to avoid. Although some advice is less relevant for arts organisations, a lot of the fundamental principles of crowdfunding are universally applicable. In our experience, the following elements are the building blocks of a successful crowdfunding campaign:
- Research: studying similar (successful and unsuccessful) campaigns and reviewing crowdfunding platforms
- Planning: particularly sorting your contacts and setting out a strategy
- Building your project: writing the copy for your project page, making a video
- Rewards: ensuring your rewards are attractive and you have considered production/postage costs etc.
- Communications: mailouts, social media, press, engaging your backers
- Post-campaign: production and delivery of rewards, backer communication