There has been a lot written about the Veronica Mars Kickstarter project and its implications for how movies are funded. Launched last week, the project reached its $2 million goal on the first of its 30 days. With 18 days to go, it has almost doubled its initial goal. I’m excited on a personal level because I was a big fan of the show and am looking forward to watching another 90+ minutes of Mars-y goodness. But what really intrigued me is what the project can teach fundraisers.
If you’re not familiar with the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, check out their FAQ. In a nutshell, it’s a way for artists and other creative types to collectively fund their projects. Musician Amanda Palmer financed her successful album Theatre is Evil via a Kickstarter campaign, and two documentary short films funded by the platform went on to be nominated for Academy Awards.
Though there has been a lot of backlash against the Veronica Mars project – the money is going to fund a movie that the studio will profit from! There are so many worthier causes! These people are millionaires and should fund the movie themselves if they care so much! – there are some really powerful fundraising lessons embedded in this campaign.
- They asked. Lots of fans have been clamoring for a Veronica Mars movie for years. The stars of the show and the show’s creator wanted to do it, but it was stuck in development hell, languishing for lack of financial support. So creator Rob Thomas figured out what he needed, explained it to his supporters, and asked them to fund it.
- They have a well-articulated plan for the money. They set a campaign goal for the minimum amount they needed and then made a plan for what they’d do if they received more. Donors to the campaign were informed up front exactly how their money would be spent and what their contribution would make happen. They also told people what would happen if the Kickstarter goal wasn’t met and explained why this campaign was the best way for everyone to get what they wanted.
- They acknowledged their supporters. Sure, they offered plenty of swag – that’s part of the Kickstarter model. But they also immediately thanked all supporters as soon as the campaign achieved its goal. And they kept thanking them, offering new incentives and updates as the campaign continued.
People have a choice of how to spend their money – and that counts for charities too. The Veronica Mars Kickstarter shows how loyal your supporters can be. Years after the show went off the air, fans jumped at the chance to get one more story from the series.
But it also shows that when you have a loyal base of supporters and you treat them with respect, candor and gratitude, you can fund even your most audacious projects.