January 10th, 2011
Happy New Year indeed! I spent my New Year’s Eve at a meditation center in South Central. Focusing on bringing more peace and forgiveness to my life. Surprisingly, none of my new years resolutions have anything to do with career or money. With my new home, and a good slew of tour dates this year, I feel quite satisfied in those departments. I’m more interested in (as the pick-up artists say) “building a life” and working on my “inner game” (basically, working on my own joy and learning).
I’m happy to report that generous support continues to flow in for CAT LADY! For a relatively crappy year with some high points, I was redeemed with an overflow of much needed $$$ to finish my project. And I’m still raising more! My fears of an online individual donor campaign looking like “The Kristina Wong Panhandling Tour of 2010″ has become quite the opposite. I have received some very generous donations from the people I thought least likely to support my work financially: Passing acquaintances, pregnant ladies, fellow artists, and former Airbnb house guests. Best of all, I’m not feeling so damn alone in this endeavor!
Now, I share the wisdom with fellow artists trying to raise money from individuals for their creative projects!
Ten Tips from a successful Catsourcer Crowdsourcer!
1. Make your perks VIRAL!
Viral rewards are free to make and are a non-annoying and personal way to praise the generous and remind the universe that you are still raising money. For my $5 contributors, I thanked them with “thank you tweets” (FB status updates) and used an “@” before their name to link their Facebook page so all our mutual friends were reminded. For my $50 contributors, I made personalized thank you videos of me dressed as the Cat Lady and singing horrible songs to them. And I always posted a link to my project so people could go back, click and give. Many people told me that seeing the thank yous in public, reminded them to give. Others told me it made them feel “competitive”–that if their friends were giving generously, that they wanted to give too!
Here is one of the (semi humiliating but extremely effective videos) I made as a gift for my friend Dave who dropped $100 on me right before the New Year!
2. Make your physical perks as awesome as your art!
Somehow offering postcards written from my cat for $20 was a huge draw. And it won’t take me… ahem… my cat… that long to make those. I probably shot myself a bit in the foot offering handsewn cats for a $100 contribution because the labor on that is going to be tedious and killer. But I am learning how to churn out one handsewn cat every 40 minutes and all while catching up with my Netflix queue. So it’s doable. All very doable.
3. Keep it positive and loving… and public
Nix any mention of your house foreclosing, children starving, or a flesh eating bacteria about to take you down… keep any mentions of personal suffering as a result of not being funded tongue-in-cheek. It took years of me working around artists and non-profits to learn that while nobody wants to see good things crumble, nobody wants to save a sinking ship either. Sending love out in twitterspace or facebookland to those who give is really incredibly affirming to act of giving. Thanking them in public… shares the love.
3. Emphasize what the project means on an emotional level.
If you project is odd and esoteric but still a significant creative milestone for you, find a way to translate its importance in layman’s terms. CAT LADY is esoteric, but I broke it down simple and threw my cat into my pitch video. I also tied this show as a logical creative transition from my last show (Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) which a lot of audiences can identify with more than this one.
4. Don’t oversaturate your ask.
Reminding people everyday just makes them think that this isn’t urgent and that they can put it off. Keep the general blanket asks to once a week. Viral thank yous will actually make you need to not repost so often.
5. If there are matching funds available, use it as a call to urgency.
With the fundraising site I am using, I was able to have $2000 of the funds automatically matched. The urgency for my sponsors to see their money double got the ball rolling super fast. If you are using a fundraising site that does not match funds, challenge your big ticket donors to match funds when you hit a certain amount.
6. Time your request around dates when people are likely to give.
I had thought December would be a bad time to ask people to give as everyone is being hit up for end of year contributions, turns out it was a great time! People do like to give for end of year giving. I had thought it was a hoax. Other ideas for “ask-worthy” times are your birthday, major events or holidays, the impending birth of your first kid, or an anniversary of a creative achievement…
7. Be realistic about the infrastructure you have to support your ask. If you don’t have one, set one up.
If you don’t have a large audience base to tap, set your minimum goal lower. It’s also not a bad time to make sure your mailing list is up to date.
8. You get what you give.
Call it some crap I am quoting from “The Secret,” but it doesn’t hurt to circulate the wealth you have to start getting it to flow back to your coffers. As soon as this campaign got off to such a great start, I pulled out my checkbook and made small contributions of $5 to $100 to organizations and other artists projects. It’s about gratitude and the cycle of giving.
9. Look at this campaign for its longevity and the community you will create.
Just say no to “gimme, gimme, gimme”… you’ve actually created in your community of contributors, a community that will stay connected to your project and feel proud in what you are creating. These are the people who will support you in the long haul of your very long career. This is your community of support.
10. For every person who supports, let it make your creative process feel that much more assured.
You are blessed.