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Ben Yennie: Best & Worst Donation Based Crowdfunding Platforms for Filmmakers

Crowdfunding is an incredibly important tool in the tool belt of any filmmaker.  It’s one of the most versatile and democratic funding sources available, and it does far more than simply raise funds (For details, check out this blog on TheGuerrillaRep.com.) One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is which platform you plan on using.  Here’s a simple guide from us to you on which platforms are best, as well as their general pros and cons.  

Great: Seed and Spark.

Seed and Spark is far and away my favorite crowdfunding platform for filmmakers.  It’s the most innovative crowdfunding platform on the market and to the best of my knowledge the only one that focuses on film.  They have a lot of different pledge options that not only increase the interest of the backer, but also the transparency from the filmmaker.  

The only real issue is that they’re not as well known as some of the others on this list.  

Good:

While these other platforms aren’t quite as good as Seed & Spark, they are still very good.  

IndieGoGo

Most filmmakers are at least passingly familiar with IndieGoGo, due primarily to their Flex Funding campaigns.  While from a filmmaker’s perspective keeping whatever you raise seems great it’s not as wonderful as may first appear.  Flex funding campaigns are harder to get people to give money to since they know they’ll be charged whether or not you get the funding you need to make the film. 

Although, IndieGoGo as a company is more innovative than Kickstarter has become.  IndieGoGo has also partnered with MicroVentures to start an equity crowdfunding line.  Having said that, they no longer have customer support specific to the film department.  (Thanks to Justin Giddings AKA The Kickstarter Guy for the info.)

Kickstarter

Personally, I prefer Kickstarter even though it doesn’t offer a flexible funding option.  It’s easier to raise the larger amounts of money you need to actually make your film happen.  It’s also more of a known entity, so conversion rates tend to be higher.  

Bad:

Just as there are good platforms, there are platforms much less suited for raising money for films.   At least in our not so humble opinions.  

JustGiving, Fundly

These are platforms primarily for helping people out of financial emergencies.  As such, it’s not really appropriate to be raising funds for your film there.  

GoFundMe

While there’s a growing number of Filmmakers using GoFundMe to raise funds for their project, its brand is much closer to JustGiving or Fundly than IndieGoGo or Kickstarter.  As such, it can feel a bit off when you’re raising for an entrepreneurial venture on a platform much more branded as one for social causes.  

Facebook

Facebook recently launched a crowdfunding platform geared towards raising money for nonprofit organizations.  While it’s possible to raise funding for films this way, it’s not something that I would personally recommend at this juncture.  It’s possible that may change in the future, but as of publishing this article, it does not really appear to be that effective even with fiscal sponsorship.  

Paypal

Paypal has a great many uses.  I use it for invoicing clients, we use it to pay contractors on this site, I even used it as a centralized way to take monetary gifts for my wedding.  However, it’s not something I would recommend for raising money for an independent film as a centralized repository for donations during a crowdfunding campaign.

If you’re going to use it, a donations tab on your website isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but I don’t think it’s the most effective strategy either.  

Anyway, I hope this was useful.  We may have some new features for crowdfunders coming out later this year.  In the meantime, check out our indiefilm project management tools.  They can help you breakdown your script build your schedule and budget, or even shoot your crowdfunding video.  Find out more and sign up via the link below.  

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