For our second post on crowdfunding, we’re going to take a look at Seed & Spark. We decided not to provide a review of Indiegogo’s funding platform because it is so similar to Kickstarter’s – the major difference being the option for flexible funding in Indiegogo, which means the project gets funded regardless of whether the fundraising goal was met. Indiegogo takes a higher fee for this option.
Seed & Spark, while similar to Kickstarter in that it is a crowdfunding platform, operates very differently. In addition to facilitating fundraising in it’s Studio, films using funds raised on the site, are offered for streaming distribution through the site’s Cinema. Both users and filmmakers earn “sparks,” which are points earned for contributions, follows and otherwise participating in the site’s community, which can be redeemed for viewing films in the Cinema. One of the cooler features on the site, is the “Wishlist,” where filmmakers can also request in-kind donations.
Here are some other Features of Seed & Spark Campaigns:
- Seed & Spark can only be used to raise funds for film projects.
- It is a selective platform. This means it is not open to any and every person who wants to run a fundraising campaign for their film, but each project is approved on a case by case basis. Projects with evidence of a well-thought out campaign, budget, and ability to meet their fundraising goals have a greater chance of success.
- Eligibility: it does not appear that Seed & Spark campaigns are limited to US residents.
- Funding: Unlike Kickstarter, where funding is all or nothing and Indiegogo, with there is a flexible funding option that allows projects to take whatever amount they raise with the payment of a higher fee, once a project raises about 80% of its funding goal on Seed & Spark, it’s given the green light and will be funded.
- If a project is successfully funded, Seed & Spark’s fee is about 5% of all of the money raised. As a donor, you have the option of paying 5% of their amount, so the filmmakers don’t lose any of their supporters’ pledges. As a donor to projects on Seed & Spark, we can tell you this is a great strategy, as we add that additional 5% everytime.
- A pitch video is required to run a campaign on this site.
- Other great things to know: about 60% of projects that fundraise on Seed & Spark are successful, as opposed to 40% on Kickstarter; projects don’t only have to raise funds, but can accept in-kind donations as well, as part of the project’s “Wishlist,” – we’ve seen projects requesting new or used equipment, software, locations; filmmakers streaming their films on the site, keep 80% of the revenue it generates
These, I would consider to be valuable tips when considering launching a fundraising campaign:
To begin with, know that running a fundraising campaign, or any crowdfunding platform, is huge task, requiring all of your time and attention for the duration of the campaign – you have to give it … all of it!! Having said that, what exactly is it that you need to be doing?
- You will need to create some kind of pre-launch buzz. Before you launch your campaign, the people you hope will contribute, ie, your “target audience,” should already be fully aware of your project. One thing you can do is get family and close friends to promise to donate when the campaign launches and to get a certain number of their friends and family members to also contribute. But for the most part, in the weeks and days leading up to the campaign, you should be blogging and sharing information with bloggers (so that they can then share it with their audience) about your campaign.
- As you meet people and talk to them about your project, you should be generating an email list – this will prove valuable, as you’ll have an audience to announce the launch of your project to.
- You should also research successful film campaigns on the crowdfunding platform of your choice, analyze them to get a better understanding of why they were successful, and use the analysis as the basis for crafting your campaign strategy.
- During the campaign, you will need to be emailing, blogging, tweeting, facebooking, sharing all day, everyday. Updating the campaign with new information (timing and content determined pre-launch), and with public “thank yous” to donors.
- Create a video pitch … not a point-and-shoot video in which you spend all of the time asking for money … think outside the box. Remember, you’re not just pitching the film, you’re also pitching yourself, your aspirations, and your team. The idea is to not make people feel like you’re asking them for money, but that you’re offering them a unique opportunity to be part of an amazing project. One way to think about this, is to create a story about your film as your video pitch.
- Put thought into the perks. Again, researching successful campaigns would be instructive here. This is also a great opportunity to partner with other individuals or organizations and offer perks like a trip to the film’s premiere, or some customized item, a painting, tickets to an event related to the subject of your film …
- Treat every donor like they’re a part of your team … this cannot be stressed enough.
- Make donation levels as low as possible. Encourage people to donate as little as a dollar – a person who can donate a dollar, will likely donate more.
- Include the cost of the perks you’ll offer, in your budget. And include in your pitch, a summary of your budget, letting people know what their donations will be used for.
Here are examples of successful projects by Caribbean filmmakers, on Seed & Spark:
Panomundo: a documentary project, T&T/US filmmaker Charysse Tia Harper and St. Kitts/UK filmmaker Keith Musaman Morton, on the history of the steelband and its influence around the world. You can watch the promotional trailer trailer for the documentary here.
Yes, crowdfunding is hard, especially for Caribbean filmmakers, many of whom are unable to fully marshall and organize their resources in support of their projects. Hopefully these posts will help some filmmakers to better utilize these platforms to help fund their projects, but with the understanding that it all starts with putting in sufficient time to engage and mobilize their supporters pre-launch.
Send us any questions or comments and let us know if we can be of any further help.