5. When talking to potential backers, be a human or a group of humans, not a faceless organization.
doesn't mean you have to write every email in the first person or post
pictures of your cats to your festival's Facebook wall, but it does mean
you should answer every pledge with a personal note, respond quickly to
inquiries about your project, and put yourself in your plea video. Your
audience is invested in your festival and your ideas, yes. They are
also invested in the idea of you executing your vision.
we made our plea video, our Artistic Director Charles Judson was the
natural choice of spokesman. Charles is one of the people who has been
associated with the Atlanta Film Festival the longest, and as the former
communications director he has been the functional face of the festival
for years. Not only does he deliver the festival's message in the
video, but we converted his personal Kickstarter backer account to serve
as the account for the festival's project, so that his tastes and
backer history could give people a sense of who we are and what we do.
(I have since accidentally backed a couple of projects while logged into
his account, including the 2014 Kanye’s Pugs calendar. I maintain that
this only reinforces my point.)
has also resumed posting duties to our social media accounts. Since he
was one of the primary builders of that audience, they respond to his
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts enthusiastically. It's true that Charles' tastes and sense of humor might not have the
broadest appeal. However, I would rather his interpretation of the
festival's personality be strongly & genuinely appealing (or
irritating) to smaller segments of our audience than be blandly
unoffensive to everyone -- and followed passionately by no one.
It's important to
add the little touches that remind your backers of the people running
the campaign. Every contributor to our project receives a two-line poem
to celebrate their pledge. Sometimes the rhyme is based on their backer
number, sometimes on their name, sometimes on some small detail I know
about them. The point is, it's written about them by me. They get
attention and recognition for their gift, even if it's in private. (A
few people have tweeted their poems publicly, or posted them to their
Facebook walls. It's always nice to be published.) At this point I'm
several dozen poems behind, but I'll keep writing until they're done.
Atlanta Film Festival audience
6. The “crowd” will mostly be people you know.
The likelihood that your film festival's
campaign will go viral is pretty slim. That's OK. Crowdfunding still
makes sense, because it reduces the friction of giving to your
organization, turns meeting your funding goal into a game, and provides
a focal point for your fans. Because yours is a project rooted in a
specific space and time, however, you will probably be appealing to
people in your general vicinity, and most of your backers will probably
be your existing fans. That's OK, too -- the whole point is to galvanize
your admirers into action, and for that enthusiasm to draw others into
the fold over the course of the campaign. If you do this right, your
community will be larger when your crowdfunding period ends than it was
when you started.
your crowd to respond, however, will require more than a few email
updates. I've been on the phone for a few hours every day, catching up
with old friends and gently nudging them into giving a few dollars. This
kind of individual attention is essential to letting people know how
much this effort means to you, and how much you’re counting on them.
Don't rely on Facebook or Twitter, either. Tweets are great for giving
updates and thanking your supporters by name (which will then inspire
your mutual friends to contribute), but on their own, tweets are about as
effective at closing as Jack Lemmon
. Social media is your wingman, but it won't land the plane.
7. Your fans are everywhere, so be sure to have something for the out-of-towners.
your backers may be mostly people you know, don't take that to mean
that they won't want rewards, or that they will only be people who can
attend your festival. The Atlanta Film Festival campaign offers passes
to the festival at certain reward levels, but we also offer perks that
anyone can enjoy from anywhere.
and voting for our Backers Jury, for example, will be held in online -- with private screeners and closed ballots, naturally, but still
accessible from anywhere. We'll be sure to post video updates from the
festival for backers elsewhere to enjoy, and we plan on asking the
filmmakers who benefit from our backers' contributions to record a few
thoughts about the experience. Just as the internet expands your
fundraising reach, so too should it expand the boundaries of your
festival beyond the theater walls.
Check out the campaign video below: