By Lee Jameson / Film Education Coordinator

from the documentary "The Light In Her Eyes"

Our friends at Kickstarter recently led an informative crowdfunding class for our members, which included guidance from filmmakers Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix, whose project The Light in Her Eyes has raised over double its initial funding goal. As Kickstarter’s Stephanie Pereira put it, “Kickstarter is at its core a storytelling platform, and more specifically, a visual storytelling platform.”

Here are some of their Kickstarter-related tips for artists looking to crowdfund their projects:


Share your fundraising goal with others and research it in comparison with similar Kickstarter campaigns. Ask yourself: what are my project’s needs? What can I realistically raise? A resource that Laura and Julia recommend for researching your fundraising goal is the blog Joke and Biagio, which has an informational crowdfunding report. According to Kickstarter’s Stephanie Pereira, 75-85% of your backers will come from your own Internet community (friends, family, fans, etc.). Only 15-25% will be friends of friends, so keep this in mind.

Formula for Success

The most common Kickstarter pledge is $25. The average pledge amount is $71. For successful Kickstarter projects, the average fundraising goal is $4,500. Using these numbers, here is a basic formula that can help guide you:

86 (potential # of backers) x $71 (avg. pledge amount) = $6,106 (goal)

If your resulting total is much lower than what you need, you may want to think about what forms of communication would be most advantageous, as well as reconsider the scope of what you’re trying to raise.

"Burn", a documentary directed by Film Independent fellow
Tom Putnam is also a Kickstarter success story

Email Etiquette

Laura and Julia offered some sage email advice from their crowdfunding experience:

Get your email lists ready. Sort individuals into categories and lists before you begin reaching out to them, so that you can target certain groups.

It’s a good idea to prep your friends ahead of time that you will be reaching out to them about fundraising. You can even hold an event at the beginning of your campaign to raise awareness. By the end of this process, you should have an organized mailing list that you can use for future outreach.

Email vs. Facebook

According to Laura, “whenever we sent direct emails to fund-raise, there was a huge spike in donations. Facebook blasts… not so much. I think that people who rely on Facebook completely often fail. Almost 70% of people who backed our project were from email. I can’t stress emailing people directly and making a personal connection enough.” Also, people need to be reminded. Some want to donate but just forget, so don’t be shy about following up.

Project Rewards

The majority of backers will back a project because the rewards appeal to them. Kickstarter recommends offering between five and seven rewards for each project. Too many can be overwhelming. Also, the rewards should be an equal exchange of value. For example, a $100 tote bag is not a fair exchange. As Kickstarter’s Pereira points out, “this is about giving, but also about commerce,” so devote time to strategizing what your rewards will be.

Rewards That Work

One highly popular form of reward is a creative experience (Skype, coffee date, exclusive access to your project, etc.). Another is a shared story – something that is unique to the Kickstarter campaign, handmade or limited edition. This can be anything from a postcard that says thank you to a limited edition poster. For example, Laura and Julia offered photos as a reward “because we thought it wouldn’t be that difficult to print pictures and get inexpensive frames.” This turned out to be very popular with their backers. Personalizing your rewards will go a long way.

Check out our blog for other stories and information on how to have a successful crowdfunding experience:


March 13th, 2012 • 1 Comment


  1. January 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Wow, some really great information. I am about to start a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary and this was handy. Thanks.

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