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11 Things I Learned from Running 11 Crowdfunding Campaigns: Part 1

SydneysBuzz By Thomas Mai | SydneysBuzz August 14, 2014 at 2:48PM

For the last two years Thomas Mai has worked at FanDependent, together with Josh Pomeranz from Spectrum Films to run Crowdfunding campaigns and Crowdsourced distribution through a grant from Screen Australia. Thomas has teamed up with Pozible to help five filmmakers reach a crowdfunding goal of a minimum $100,000 through the ‘Mission:Pozible’ program.
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Thomas Mai
Thomas Mai

Thomas Mai has produced or executive produced six films and is a former sales agent turned crowdfunding pioneer. He is from Denmark and lives in Sydney, Australia with his Brazilian wife Josie. For the last two years Thomas has worked at FanDependent, together with Josh Pomeranz from Spectrum Films to run Crowdfunding campaigns and Crowdsourced distribution through a grant from Screen Australia. Thomas has teamed up with Pozible to help five filmmakers reach a crowdfunding goal of a minimum $100,000 through the ‘Mission:Pozible’ program: http://www.pozible.com/mission-pozible 


1. The Numbers

I have run 11 crowdfunding campaigns over the last two years. Most, but not all of these, are from first time filmmakers.

Seven succeed and four failed. That is a 63.63% success rate or if you are a pessimist a 36.37% failure rate. When I say failure it is important to bear in mind that 3 out of the 4 “failed” campaigns were on Indiegogo which allows flexible funding, meaning that the campaigns still received the money despite their “failure” to meet the crowdfunding goal.

What is astounding is that it only took 416 funders on the documentary Deep Blue Sea to raise $60,594 which is an average donation of $145 per funder. The documentary Gayby Baby managed to raise $104,756 from 1,244 funders which is an average donation of $84 per funder. The average donation across all 11 campaigns is an impressive $194.30 per funder. 3,198 people donated an average of $194.30 across the 11 campaigns. That is a lot of money from each contributor and a lot more than the average cinema ticket, DVD or VOD sale, which goes to show the value of passionate supporters.

The most important stat that I keep track of during a crowdfunding campaign is the donation per view. If you take the total raised and divide it by the amounts of video views then you get an average donation per view. Why is this important? Well if I tell you that we made an average of $29.24 on Deep Blue Sea each time someone watched our trailer then I am certain you will understand the importance of this stat. On Gayby Baby we made an average of $9.11 as it took 11,500 trailer views to reach the $104,756. When the campaign is running I check the amount of views daily as this is the true indicator as to whether we have reached new funders.

The numbers from the 11 campaigns (all numbers are in Australian dollars. The current exchange rate = 1 US dollar equals 1.076 Aussie dollar).
The numbers from the 11 campaigns (all numbers are in Australian dollars. The current exchange rate = 1 US dollar equals 1.076 Aussie dollar).

2. The Platform

The first question I get from any filmmaker is what crowdfunding platform should I choose? Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Pozible or? (full disclosure, I have teamed up with Pozible for the next 3 months to help 5 filmmakers raise a minimum of $100,000, you can read more about the program here http://www.pozible.com/mission-pozible)

It is not about what the platform can do for your campaign but rather what can YOU do for YOUR campaign. At the end of the day, the success of your crowdfunding campaign is not about which platform you are on but rather how much traffic YOU create for your own project. All the platforms run thousands of campaigns each month and the chances are slim that you will be featured on their landing page or in their newsletter, therefore the visitors have to come from your own network or contacts and the press and attention that you can create.

Think of each platform as a vehicle that you are in charge of the driving. How far you go and how fast you get there depends on your work. What you put in is what you are going to get out. Make no mistake, running a crowdfunding campaign is hard work, regardless of the platform.

There are pro’s and con’s with each platform and there are too many platforms to list so I will only concentrate on Indiegogo, Kickstarter and Pozible.

Indiegogo

Pro’s

Indiegogo offers flexible funding so you still get your money even if you don’t reach you crowdfunding goal (but you pay a higher fee 9%, the normal fee is 4% before credit card fee’s).

Indiegogo does not need to approve your project, all you need is a PayPal account. You can be based anywhere in the world.

Indiegogo accepts credit cards and PayPal.

Indiegogo will give your campaign a personalized url.

Indiegogo embeds either your YouTube or Vimeo link.

Con’s

Even though Indiegogo was first on the scene before Kickstarter, they are not as big as Kickstarter.

They allow almost any project, so there are projects of “lower” quality on there.

Indiegogo does not offer many stats and does not disclose its success rate.


Kickstarter

Kickstarter has really become synonymous with crowdfunding and have done a great job with many successful campaigns. Kickstarter claims (as of the time of this writing) a 42.73% success rate.

Pro’s

There is no denying that Kickstarter is the Granddaddy when it comes to crowdfunding in terms of money raised, backers, press etc. But as I wrote earlier it is still up to you to drive the traffic and if you don’t get on the front page or in the newsletter it will not help you.

Kickstarter are very open about their stats and they share them for everyone to follow.

Con’s

Kickstarter only accept the Amazonwallet payment system which can be a hassle.

Kickstarter will only let you use their video player so no YouTube or Vimeo embedment.

Kickstarter will give you a random number before your long url.

You need to live in the US, UK, Canada, Australia or NZ to host a project on Kickstarter.

Kickstarter charges 5%.

Gayby Baby crowdfunding event
Gayby Baby crowdfunding event

Pozible

Pozible was started in Australia by Rick Chen (born in China) and Alan Crabbe (born in N. Ireland) and has offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Shanghai & San Francisco.

Pro’s

Pozible accepts credit cards, PayPal and Bitcoin.

Pozible will give your campaign a personalized url.

Pozible embeds either your YouTube or Vimeo link.

Pozible charges 4% and if you raise more than $500,00 it drops to 3%.

Pozible has access to closed Chinese market as Rick Chen is from China.

Pozible has a 56% success rate.

You can be based anywhere in the world (well not North Korea but that’s a different story).

You can find the names of all the staff and email them questions.

They have a dedicated film person working with them the next 3 months (that would be me).

Con’s

There is no denying that Pozible is has a smaller audience than Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

Has “only” launched 6,902 projects.

Has “only” crowdfunded $22,888,048

Your projects need to be approved by Pozible

3. The Workload

There is a lot of work that goes into making a crowdfunding campaign successful. I usually spend a full three months with my clients BEFORE the campaign goes live. So what takes three months? The strategy, research on who could help spread the message, the rewards, writing the script, shooting and editing the video.

Yes, we spend a lot of time researching who out there can help our campaign along. But we don’t ask for favors, we believe in a win - win situation for everyone. On the film Deep Blue Sea, which is a documentary on asylum seekers arriving at Australia by boat, we teamed up with several organizations who had like-minded views on the subject. But instead of asking for money we offered the organizations the chance to host their own screenings for their members, we offered for them to come and speak at the official screenings as well as a booth at the venues. We also offered for them to sell the DVD directly to their members. One must remember that all organizations have limited time, energy and money and if you only ask without giving anything back they will most likely not respond.

When your campaign goes live it is a constant mad rush to get it across the finish line. As soon as the clock starts ticking you and your team will have to work at least full time to get your message out there. Get all the help you can get from family, friends, interns etc, as you are under time pressure and your project is on the line. Fight for your film, succeed and be rewarded.

Thomas Mai will be back next week with more tips about running a successful crowdfunding campaign.

To read more about Thomas’ current project - helping experienced filmmakers to raise more than $100k through crowdfunding - go to: www.pozible.com/missionpozible

This article is related to: Thomas Mai , Crowdfunding, Indiegogo , Kickstarter , Pozible , The Workload , Filmmaker Toolkit, International, International Film, International Film Sales, International Film Business, International Film Festival, International Sales Agent, International Film Market

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