As a filmmaker in the preliminary planning stages of my first crowdfunding campaign, I’ve been doing some basic research trying to determine the best platform to use.
As most indie filmmakers probably know, the two biggest crowdfunding sites are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. There are others out there: sites like Pozible, Peerbackers, RocketHub, and an interesting upstart called Seed&Spark that will not only help you raise money but also distribute your film too (read an article about them here). There’s also USAprojects, a wild-card contender I have to seriously consider (more on that later). But you’ve got to start somewhere. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Indiegogo and Kickstarter, compared
The biggest difference between the two biggies is that Kickstarter users must use the “All-or-nothing” funding model. If a project campaign doesn’t hit its goal, it fails, and no money changes hands. On Indiegogo, however users can set a goal and choose between the all-or-nothing option or a “Flexible Funding” campaign, where any amount raised they are allowed to keep (but Indiegogo keeps a larger cut in this case).
The all-or-nothing campaign structure is generally recognized as the better model, for a couple of reasons. Having a make-or-break goal adds a sense of urgency that helps encourage donations. It also helps reassure donors that their money won’t be wasted on a project that is poorly executed or never completed because it only raised a fraction of the needed funds.
(Note that 501 (c)(3) non-profit projects get a 25% discount on fees at Indiegogo.)
Maybe the most important distinction between the two: KS is a bigger brand. It is, as one blogger put it, the Coca-Cola of crowdfunding. They have name recognition. They have more projects, more members signed up, and more web traffic. Here’s a comparison for the last 12 months:
Total size notwithstanding, it appears from the numbers I was able to compile that IndieGogo actually sees a higher rate of successful film/video campaigns (see below). Not in total numbers, of course, but in the percentage that succeed:
What I’ve not been able to obtain so far is the average goal amount for successful all-or-nothing Indiegogo film projects. But it’s commonly said around the internet that IndieGogo projects raise less money. So for projects with smaller budgets at least, it appears IndieGogo has the edge. Larger-budget projects might benefit from the higher visibility of a Kickstarter campaign.
And then came USA Projects
USAprojects is another crowdfunding platform, however, it will probably not be relevant to all filmmakers. It’s a curated site, tied to philanthropic arts organizations. Participation is by invitation, and because I was fortunate enough to receive an Artist Award from the Arts Council of Sonoma County in 2009, I’ve invited to participate. They offer a bunch of advantages: donations are tax-deductible, they actively consult with you in planning and promoting your project, and they even kick in matching funds. And fully 75% of projects there succeed! The downside is that they are not well-known, and that they take a much larger fee: up to 19%. I am still weighing my options!