A conversation yesterday with Danae Ringelmann, co-founder of crowdfunding site Indiegogo, inspires this post on the value that artists can find in undertaking a crowdfunding campaign, even beyond the dollars from the campaign itself.
Danae mentioned “currying serendipity” as a favorite phrase of hers, which I soon learned more about on the Indiegogo blog in a post titled “5 Ways Crowdfunding Helps Leverage Grant Support”:
5. CURRY SERENDIPITY.
This is a concept I use a lot in my work – getting my clients to engage in activities that have a high likelihood of encouraging positive and unexpected opportunities to come their way. That is one of the beautiful side effects of crowdfunding. Aggregating a crowd sets in motion many unforeseen possibilities. One of these is that some people in the crowd are connected to potential donors the filmmaker would never otherwise meet. It is very hard for a filmmaker to get her foot into the door of a foundation or corporation for that first ask. An avid fan in your crowd can step forward and say, “Hey, I know someone at the XZY Foundation and I think they should fund your project. Let me try and open the door so you can make a pitch.” On your own, it could take years to nurture a relationship with a foundation – the crowd can help you fast-forward that process.
It’s absolutely true that you have to put yourself out there in the crowd to discover what opportunities and resources might come your way from making an impassioned pitch to the people in your network.
It’s also just a great learning experience. A focused crowdfunding campaign, whether successful or not, will help you hone the skills of pitching your work and its value (both in terms of intrinsic aesthetics and also “perks” to the donor) in a succinct, personal way. That’s potentially the core of a broader marketing strategy. Artists who can craft an appealing message on a site like Indiegogo will be able to carry that approach into other marketing channels and are likely to find increased success.
In 2011, I’m aiming to expand Assets for Artists across Massachusetts, and part of that expansion will include a crowdfunding requirement for participating artists, which will increase the investment those artists have in their success in the program and will allow us to stretch the available foundation, corporate and government funds even further. The required financial and business training for new participants in 2011 will be adapted to incorporate strategies for successful crowdfunding.
The terrific staff at Fractured Atlas and Indiegogo are bending over backwards to help establish a productive partnership with Assets for Artists. I can’t praise them enough. Their energy and innovation are so inspiring.
Please support Indiegogo in its own crowd-philanthropy effort as it tries to win free air travel from British Airways to support the expansion of its business model in more parts of the world. I’m not a big fan of most corporate-sponsored vote-driven philanthropy programs (which seem to be sprouting up like crazy), but this one is better than others in that the process doesn’t seem so blatantly marketing driven and all you have to do is click to cast a vote (no registering or providing an email address for future marketing by the sponsor). And I’d so love to see Indiegogo win this that I’m happy to help market British Airways a little in the process.
Check out Indiegogo’s pitch and vote for them daily thru 12/17/10 (just three more days).