Simply put, crowdfunding is “fundraising that relies on social media and the internet to raise small amounts of capital from large numbers of individuals.”

The great advantage of this tool is that not only can you reach out to a small number of individuals that you know personally; you can also expand your reach to anyone on the web. The online funding platform offers a mechanism for accepting cash donations to your project immediately onsite. Crowdfunding is a good way to garner a large segment of interest for a specific project or a series of projects that may be cost-prohibitive for artists to try to fund alone. It is also a great way to connect with other artists and to create a new group of individual supporters for your work.

Each crowdfunding platform is a little different. There are both discipline-specific and general crowdfunding sites that offer innovative ways to address the funding needs of artists. Before you decide to post your project for funding, do some research on the site and become familiar with any restrictions and/or guidelines that exist. Make sure you understand how their funding platform works and what your obligation to funders will be if your project is funded fully. Some sites offer partial funding and others will not pay artists at all unless the total amount of the funding goal is reached, so set your funding amount accordingly. It is also good practice to follow a few projects currently posted on the site. By following projects posted you will be able to observe first-hand how successful each project was in terms of reaching supporters and meeting stated financial goals. You can also gain a lot of knowledge from other projects listed and described, which can go a long way to help you craft and post your own successful project idea or concept.

While more are listed in our directory, there are a few leading sites to consider as you begin research:

As you design your project page you will be asked to post a description of the project. Include details about the work, your passion for the work or any other pertinent persuasive information to help pitch your idea. Remember that not everyone will be familiar with you or your artwork so it is important to be descriptive, clear and engaging.

You may also be asked to offer goods or services to potential investors as rewards for making a donation at various levels to your specific project. These may include being listed as an investor on the website or in film credits, receiving a signed poster or t-shirt from an event, receiving copies of a DVD or another memorable item from a production like a signed photo or still. Think about ways to benefit both the investor and your work as you determine the most appropriate take away for the support of your project. Whatever you choose to share it should be related to the project in a significant way and serve as a “thank you” to the investors and sponsors supporting your work at each level of contribution.

Once you have posted your project, build a strategy for getting the word out and nudging your contacts to contribute. As mentioned above, start with your inner network of friends and family, and move outward. Remember to ask for a donation and share the details of the project with others. Be creative and tactful about sending reminders or updates, and use social media to its fullest advantage. Showcase your personality and creative ideas. Post links and updates on your funding goal, the names of new donors, and/or photos on your Facebook page or other site to keep interest in your project during the time it is posted.

Integrate crowdfunding into your overall funding strategy. Use the number of investors and amounts they offered as leverage for additional grants or loans. Frame your pitch for those who are unfamiliar with the platform. Share information on investors who have supported you, committed to your idea and offered financial support for your project.