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by Paula Bernstein
September 6, 2013 3:56 PM
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The Top 10 Myths of Crowdfunding: According to Indiegogo

The Indiegogo logo.
In theory, crowdfunding for filmmakers seems like a great idea, but isn't it a lot of work? And doesn't it seem a little bit too much like begging people for money? Indiegogo has heard those questions many times before. To address some of them, the crowdfunding platform announced via Twitter that it has published a list of "Top 10 Myths of Crowdfunding," available to download for free here.

Here's Indiegogo's Top 10 Myths of Crowdfunding:

1. It's online panhandling.

2. I might fail.

3. I can't raise money without a fancy video.

4. I'm afraid I won't reach my goal.

5. I have to have a big social media following to be successful.

6. I have no perks to offer.

7. I don't have time.

8. Crowdfunding is only about the money.

9. I should wait until I have the perfect idea/product/etc.

10. I'm not sure my idea will be accepted.

Indiegogo systematically debunks the above myths, pointing on that "you are not passing the hat around -- you are bringing an idea to life." (Myth #1) The company also says that "none of our campaigns are failures." (Myth #2). Of course, every experience in life -- whether you succeed or not -- is educational and informative, but let's be real. If you're trying to raise money on Indiegogo and your project doesn't get off the ground, I think it's safe to say that your campaign failed. Seems to me that Indiegogo is just sugar-coating the facts with lines like, "If there is an idea you are passionate about, the only way it can truly fail is if you never try to bring it to life." Um, yeah. Thanks, mom!

Also, of course, a big social media following and cool perks get the word out about your campaign (though, obviously, they're not the only things that matter either).

According to Adrianne Jeffries' estimates at The Verge, less than 10% on Indiegogo make their goal, though it's not easy to get an exact number. The number is definitely below 13.68%, as that's the portion of film projects that make at least 75% of their goal.

The numbers are discouraging, but that doesn't mean it's not worth trying. As for #7, none of us has the time, but someone we manage to find time to post pictures of our food on Instagram. So while Indiegogo's myths are Pollyanish, the company does have a point. Enough with the excuses, and, as Nike says, just do it.

Did they forget any myths on their list? Feel free to add them in the comments section below.
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9 Comments

  • Johan Calitz | November 29, 2013 7:24 AMReply

    Well, I just started my first crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo - Money-Pal Budget - The first smart budget program for everyone. Do you guys have any tips to increase exposure?

  • Sima | September 21, 2013 1:26 AMReply

    I'm a regular contributor to crowdfunding campaigns and I've run one myself. You have to get people to care about what you're doing, which involves a lot of work building networks, getting media attention etc just like building a business. Cool perks are a bonus :)

  • Oney Millan | September 17, 2013 5:37 AMReply

    Crowdfunding is not all about money, it matters that we all dance together in that mindful moment.

  • E-Filmmaker | September 10, 2013 5:53 PMReply

    I think crowdfunding is a sham, I've been trying to raise money on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo for several years now to no avail... what a crock. Unless you have a celeb it isn't worth the time.

  • ZacBob | January 5, 2014 3:13 PM

    Do you have a link to your previous campaigns?

  • Emily Best | September 9, 2013 6:47 PMReply

    I think we haven't begun to scratch the surface of what crowdfunding can become, especially for film. I started Seed&Spark, an audience building platform for film that includes lifecycle support: crowd-funding all the way through distribution. We've been in public beta for about 10 months, and our crowdfunding success rate this week hit 68%. Partly that's because we're just for film, we're highly curated, and we do a lot of work on behalf of our filmmakers (social media support and more). We curate for two reasons:
    1) Not everyone is ready to crowdfund. We screen projects for basic crowdfunding readiness signs and we advise projects that aren't there yet. And we do this because:
    2) Audiences want to know that what they're getting is worth their time and hard-earned money. They need a sense of inevitability that the project will get made.

    Our goal is 100% success rate, although it's a pipe dream. Ideally for us, audiences would be excited for the next Seed&Spark project to launch because of the success of all the previous projects.

    For filmmakers, using crowdfunding as a stop-gap funding method is short-sighted and loses the REAL benefit: the CROWD rather than the FUNDING. Because what's the point of raising money for a film that no one will ever see? Our effort is to build a suite of robust audience-building tools that allow filmmakers to build audiences not just for one film but for their entire careers. What we're seeing with Braff and Spike are filmmakers cashing in on years of hard work building audience loyalty - it's exactly what we believe is possible for any filmmaker who makes a concerted effort to engage their audiences at every step. But expectations have to be aligned with possibilities: if you have 1.4M twitter followers like Zack Braff, it's not unreasonable to think you might reach a BIG crowdfunding target. For up-and-coming creators/directors/producers, crowdfunding is a way to start building that kind of relationship with the audience. Start with a small goal. Raise it successfully, deliver on time and on budget, show that small crowd of supporters you mean what you say. They will come back and support you on their next project...and bring their friends! It won't happen over night, but it's working for literally thousands of filmmakers out there right now.

    I am thrilled to see all of the reporting, debate and engagement around the topic of crowdfunding for film. If you're in the business, it can seem like that's all anyone is talking about. But there are still lots of people who love movies who have NO IDEA what crowdfunding is. We have a long way to go and a lot of time to build the best possible tools to take advantage of this incredible funding/audience engagement opportunity.

    Ron and Sandy: what is it about a project that excites you enough to contribute? What turns you off?

  • sandylieberson | September 7, 2013 7:03 PMReply

    interesting pov Ron....yes over crowded and will only become more overcrowded. and it will come down to celebs taking the most money out of the system and the small passion project will be struggling. so the indi is going to have to be more clever than spike lee....not hard, and the zach braff's.

  • Ron Merk | September 7, 2013 3:09 PMReply

    Yes, you forgot one important myth about crowdfunding, that there's a reasonable chance of success "if you work hard enough." My company and a foundation that I co-founded each tried a campaign. For one of them we reached out to more than 200,000 contacts and got responses from ELEVEN people. The real problem is that crowdfunding is overcrowded. Too many people chasing a finite amount of money. With big Hollywood names like grabbing large portions of that pool, crowd-funding looks more and more like a fool's errand, and a little like a ponzi scheme. While I'm not a big fan of regulation, I think the big crowdfunding sites need to start looking at their game plan. Do they really want to fund just a few high profile projects? Or do they want to stay with their original plan to help people raise small amounts of money for artistic or passion projects that have no other way of finding funds? There's no reason why the crowd-funding sites can't limit the fundraising to certain amounts for the lesser-known people to raise money, and then have a separate site for Spike Lee and Zach Braff to do whatever they want. But I think it's definitely time for the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo to show us who they really are, and what their goals are for the arts and important social projects.

  • Victoria Thomas | September 12, 2013 2:56 PM

    Everyone has a right to use crowd funding platform whether they are famous or not. The public responds to 'famous' people because they are familiar with their work and they want to back them. Most of the people who donated to Spike Lee or Zach Braff or the Veronica Mars project were people who found out about crowd funding or used the Kickstarter platform for the first time via the interest generated by the presence of those people.

    They probably ended up checking out a few other projects once they got there. It will be interesting to now how many of those people engaged with new projects and stay engaged with the Kickstarter platform and discover new projects for example.

    Because ultimately, it is your ability to connect with an audience and one that is engaged and interested enough in what you do to back it that will get your film funded via such platforms. If Zach Braff, Spike Lee or Veronia Mars did not use Kickstarter, the same films that struggle to get funding on crowdfunding platforms, will still struggle. It is no different from any investment relationship whether the return is quantitative or qualitative.

    The internet is not a new planet. It is simply a different route to reaching the same people and the same principles of selling on the back of brand awareness applies.