Crowdfunding banner

One of the ways to fundraise is to crowdfund. This is likely something you’re familiar with if you’ve ever donated to someone’s Kickstarter or supported someone through GoFundMe, or another similar platform.

Crowdfunding refers to time-limited, goal-oriented fundraising where you seek donations from your personal network. Crowdfunding requires lots of outreach to let your extended community know about your project, to encourage them to donate and share the campaign. Depending on the platform, you can offer different incentives to encourage people to donate.

For example, you might run a crowdfunding campaign to raise $8,000 to get your graphic novel professionally edited, printed, and distributed. Everyone who pitches in $30 might get a copy of the graphic novel, plus more perks if they donate more money. Additionally, those donors who have donated tend to feel more connected to your work and often share fundraisers to their own networks, helping you expand more broadly than you could on your own.

Crowdfunding is most commonly done for time-limited campaigns, but can be used for longer campaigns or to secure recurring donations from your community. It all depends on your goals and your needs.


Crowdfunding Platforms for Artists

You’re probably familiar with a number of crowdfunding platforms. The biggest ones for artists are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Some platforms are just for specific artistic disciplines, like Seed&Spark. Fractured Atlas has our own crowdfunding platform to help you run a tax-deductible crowdfunding campaign.

Each different platform will offer different capabilities, levels of customer support, kinds of perks, and charge different usage fees. Plus, some platforms will only let you keep the money you’ve raised if you meet all or most of your goal. You can check out our full list of the best crowdfunding platforms for artists to see more.


Setting a Crowdfunding Goal

Once you’ve picked a platform, you’ll need to figure out how to set your goal.

If you set your crowdfunding goal too high, it could look to potential donors like you haven’t spent time on your budget and are just trying to get as much money as you can at once. If it looks like you’ve just picked a huge round number as your goal, it can appear to donors that you haven’t done your due diligence with your budget and are just expecting them to do all the legwork to support your vision.

But, on the other hand, if you set it too low, you might not raise as much money as you need to complete your project. If you are so worried about not reaching an ambitious goal that you confine yourself to the most minimal budget and don’t give yourself any financial cushion for unforeseen expenses, you can run into several issues.

You might spend all of this fundraising energy on a crowdfunding campaign only to find that you need to reach back out for additional funding. If that’s the case, you would have saved yourself a lot of time if you had a higher goal to begin with. It might be frustrating for your community to support you in one fundraiser only to see you reach back out again. It’s a time suck for everyone involved and it might make them feel like their first donation didn’t even matter. Plus, if you have to run a second crowdfunding campaign, that’s time and energy that you can’t devote to actually making your work!

When setting your crowdfunding goal, you’ll have to think about the average donation you hope for or expect from your community, how that relates to your overall goal, and how big your community is. If, for example, you need to raise $5,000 and you know that the average crowdfunding campaign donation is for $75, you’ll need around 65 donors. And, according to a study by Network for Good, one in four individuals asked to donate actually made a contribution as part of a concerted fundraising campaign.

This means that you need to ask 4 times the amount of people that you want to make a donation. So, if you need to raise that $5,000 you’ll want to have a plan to reach out to over 250 people. 

The goal will also be a direct result of the budget you should have created for your project before you started thinking about fundraising.


Picking Perks for a Crowdfunding Campaign

One of the benefits of crowdfunding campaigns is that you can offer perks as a thank-you to donors. These perks can incentivize donations and get people more excited about supporting a project. But remember, people donate to crowdfunding campaigns because they believe in the projects, not to go shopping! Perks are just a nice way to say thank you.

Many crowdfunding perks are free to give and just involve naming your donors in a public way to thank them. You might make a social media shoutout, list donors' names on your website, in a program, or in the credits of your final project. 

You could also send a postcard or a handwritten thank-you letter signed by your whole creative team. Or offer some exclusive behind-the-scenes looks at your project or an invitation to the wrap party or an afterparty. 

If you decide to offer swag to your donors, tote bags, buttons, posters, and T-shirts are ever-popular choices. 

Don’t forget to include access to the completed project as a perk! Depending on what your project is, you might offer a ticket to your performance, a print of your art, or a copy of your poetry book. If people want to support your work, give them access to that work as a thank-you for supporting it.

For larger donations, you might consider offering an experience based on your particular expertise. 

When thinking about creating perks for your crowdfunding campaign, make sure that they are relevant to your work, cost-effective, meaningful, and creative. But most importantly, you want your perks to be doable. By ensuring that you can deliver on what you’re promising to donors as perks, you demonstrate that you are accountable to them as a community and as an audience. 


Making a Compelling Crowdfunding Video

Many crowdfunding platforms will either require or request that you create a video as part of your campaign. Crowdfunding campaign videos are the best way in a crowdfunding campaign to make a personal connection to donors, to get them excited about your project, and enthusiastic about being a part of its success. Donors can see your face, hear your voice, and see examples of your work all in one place.

A great crowdfunding video can make your project come alive whereas a poorly-done video can leave potential backers feeling confused, uninspired, and unattached to your work.

A compelling crowdfunding video will create a personal connection between you and your donors. It is an opportunity for you to be familiar, personal, and personable. Speak from the heart and make eye contact with the camera to build that personal connection with potential crowdfunding donors.

You should be sure to make your case clearly in your campaign video, including the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your work.

Regardless of the work that you make, you should use your crowdfunding campaign video to showcase that work. You could include a short clip of a past performance so that people can see what your finished work could look like. You might choose to shoot some footage of your team rehearsing or working together to highlight the creativity and collaboration in your project. 

Don’t forget to think about the quality of your crowdfunding video. As an independent artist or small arts organization, you might not be able to hire a professional team to script, shoot, and edit your crowdfunding video. But you can still aim for high production values on a DIY budget. If you are filming with your camera phone, use a tripod (or approximate it creatively with pillows, books, tape, and whatever else you need. Shoot your footage in good lighting because natural lighting is always best.


Managing Your Crowdfunding Campaign

Once you’ve found your platform, picked a goal, set up your perks, and shot your video, you will then launch your campaign!

Crowdfunding campaigns see a big initial spike of interest when they go live and you’ll likely see a wave of donations from the closest and most dedicated members of your network. That close network will then hopefully share the fundraiser to their networks when you launch, giving you an additional boost of visibility. But after the launch, there’s a natural lull as you continue on in the campaign. It can be challenging to keep the momentum up in a crowdfunding campaign.

Plan ahead to have some specific touchpoints to reach out to your email contacts or on social media to remind folks about your fundraiser. It could be once you’ve raised your first $1,000 or when you reach 50% of your goal or something like that. But, be mindful that nobody wants to be bombarded with the same message over and over again. A few strategic touchpoints are best for reminding the people who do want to donate that you are still looking for support, but without clogging their inbox or feeds.


Common Crowdfunding Mistakes

Crowdfunding can be tough. And it can make you feel like a failure if you are having a difficult time meeting your goal. If you find yourself struggling, it might be true that your art isn’t resonating the way you want it to, but it’s also possible that you’re making a common mistake with your crowdfunding campaign.

If you’re setting your goal too low or too high, you can run into the problems we outlined in the section about setting your budget. It sounds obvious, but you also definitely have to let people know about your fundraiser. We’ve seen plenty of fundraisers where the organizers will make one social media post and send one email at the beginning of the campaign and then find themselves frustrated that after the initial round of donations, their campaign seems to lose momentum.

You also have to make sure that you are explaining your work clearly, especially for an audience of potential donors who might not be well-versed in your work or even your medium. Sometimes artists are so focused on describing the mission of your work that you don’t explain how you work to achieve that mission. Your vision might be to educate, empower, or support a specific community, but you have to be sure to explain how exactly it is that you do that work. Do you have classes, workshops, or gallery shows? Be sure to address the “how” as well as the “why” of your work. You might even consider offering a cost breakdown of what expenses you are hoping to cover, in addition to information about what you’d do with extra funding if you exceed your crowdfunding goal.

Be sure to include media like photos and videos. People often need to see photos and videos to get a sense of who you are, what you’ve done in the past, and what you are hoping to do in the future. You can and should write out a description of your work and your vision, but photos and videos can help drive the message home. Plus, it makes for very shareable social media content!

Crowdfunding’s strength is that it allows you to capitalize on human connection. In order to make that connection, put a human face (or many human faces) and human passion front and center.


Crowdfunding Raffles

In addition to a traditional crowdfunding campaign, you can also consider running a raffle as a way to crowdfund for your art. With a raffle, you solicit small donations in the form of “tickets” or entries to the raffle. Then, you randomly choose a winner to receive the prize.  You can use a raffle to fundraise for a special project like a national tour or to purchase a building that you will use as a gallery, studio, or performance space. You can also use a raffle to fundraise for the regular operating costs of your creative practice. You can also donate your goods or services to an existing raffle or run one yourself in support of a cause you believe in

Raffles give you something exciting to share with your pool of potential donors, a nice big way to say thank you. It gives people a chance to win something that feels like a deal, both because they get to support a good cause and because the financial value of whatever it is they are potentially winning is going to be much higher than the price of a ticket to enter the raffle.

A compelling raffle prize is something that is perceived as valuable, and perhaps something that would seem like a luxury or a treat for potential donors. 

You can raffle off a physical object like a sculpture, painting, ceramic, or piece of handmade furniture depending on your creative discipline. 

But raffle items don’t just have to be physical objects. You can raffle off tickets to an event or a service related to your work like a custom portrait session or a consulting session. To think about what you might raffle off, think about what you charge money for and go from there. 

Before you actually launch a raffle, whether it’s physical or virtual, it’s crucial to figure out how the money will work. Will you accept donations via cash, credit card, Venmo, CashApp, Paypal, Zelle, or through some other means? Whichever platform(s) you choose to use, make sure that they allow raffles.  Be sure that you are complying with state and local laws regarding raffles and finances. For example, you cannot use Fractured Atlas’s platform to conduct a raffle because it’s considered a form of gambling

Once you’ve conducted your raffle and raised your funds, it’s best to share with your community proof of your donation. Sharing the final amount raised and where it went helps people who donated feel like they were a part of raising a serious chunk of change, even if they were only able to donate a small amount.

We've got more tips on running an art raffle, including tips for a virtual raffle on our blog!


Crowdfunding Case Study

Not sure what all of these tips look like in action? Fractured Atlas's own Nina Berman shared her experiences running her first end-of-year fundraiser for her community garden. Here's how it went:

First, she had to figure out how much to ask for. In order to do that, she connected with the other gardeners to learn about the regular expenses as well as their hopes for the future and expectations of future expenses. 

Next, she had to determine a fundraising strategy. She decided to shoot for $250 in recurring monthly donations. She set specific giving levels ($5, $10, and $25 per month).

For this fundraiser, Nina used Open Collective Foundation as a fiscal sponsor because Fractured Atlas only works with creative projects.

Once these logistics were in place, she started working on the fundraising narrative, the pitch to encourage people to donate. She concentrated on sharing what the garden does and what its members believe in. Her mission was to show the connection between the daily tasks of weeding, watering, and planting with the larger aims of growing together and building power, knowledge, and trust in our neighborhood.

Then, she launched the campaign with graphics made in Canva, shared it via social media, email, and several community groups, and planned for several follow-up points.

With the generous offer of a matching campaign, the strategy shifted mid-campaign to focus on meeting the match rather than getting the $250 in recurring donations. All told, the fundraiser raised $3,300 with $166 recurring donations.

Here's how she describes what she learned:

"In a lot of ways, the lessons I learned were the same lessons I’ve written about for years. 

It’s easier to fundraise if you prepare yourself ahead of time with a plan. That way you’re not scrambling or wondering when you should be doing different steps. Having my social media assets in place, a schedule, and written text about why people should donate helped me launch my fundraiser much more confidently than I would have if I had been scrambling to get it together in a day or two. 

Having clarity on the responsibilities for the fundraiser was crucial. After talking with the other garden members about what our needs are and proposing the fundraiser, they gave me full authority to run the fundraiser as I saw fit. On the one hand, it can be a lot of work for one person. But on the other hand, because I have experience in communications, fundraising, social media, and digital admin it made sense for me to take the project on. 

I was able to move quickly because I had the trust of the larger collective to act decisively about the goal, the messaging, and the images. I knew exactly what I was responsible for and what I had the authority to do. In the past I’ve seen fundraisers run collectively which has only resulted in updates getting posted late and nobody feeling like they have the authority to speak on behalf of the group or wanting to take on the labor. 

Creating a fundraising campaign can be invigorating. I loved the process of writing up paragraphs about who the garden is, what we do, and why our work matters in the broader sense. It made me feel much more connected to the project and more passionate about it going forward. I expected it to feel like a chore that was going to be important for the future of the garden. While it certainly was labor, it was also more exciting than I had anticipated. 

It was important for me to be flexible during the fundraiser. I had gone in with a really strong vision of getting small recurring donations of $5 and $10 to get to that $250 per month goal. But because of the matching fund, I had to totally switch strategy and reframe the goal of the fundraiser in light of new information. When you’re running a fundraiser, sometimes things shift from what you had planned. I got a lot of benefit out of being able to go with the flow. 

Finally, I was reminded how emotional fundraising can be. I’ve written about the emotional challenges of fundraising and of talking about money, but going through it myself hit at a different level. I wanted people to believe in this project that I care deeply about. I wanted people to be moved by my writing and my campaign strategy. In the moments of stress and doubt about the fundraiser, I had feelings of doubt in myself. It’s vulnerable to put yourself out there and run the risk of failing in a public way or being annoying online if you have to keep asking for support. But the emotional aspect of fundraising isn’t all bad. I was deeply moved by everyone who came out of the woodwork to support the garden, including people who don’t live in Ridgewood but are just encouraging of our work from afar. I ended the campaign feeling proud of myself and also very lucky to be involved in the garden."

What's Next in Your Fundraising Journey?