Hilary Henegar was the campaign director and community manager for the successful Indiegogo campaign Fractured Land. Here, she shares her team’s 8 steps for raising funds – and building a movement.
I experienced the profound power of crowdfunding through my participation in a campaign to raise funds for Fractured Land, a documentary-turned-transmedia project that follows law student Caleb Behn’s fight to protect land, water and culture from the ravages of Big Oil and Gas in Northeast British Columbia, Canada.
Our Fractured Land campaign initially aimed to raise cash, but the focus soon shifted. Yes, we needed money to complete the film, but more than that we were out to build a movement and inspire dialogue.
When we began the campaign, we had some tremendous footage, a compelling subject, a largely unknown issue, a close community of supporters, and some vague interest from broadcasters. After 6 months of preparation and 45 days on Indiegogo, we had $52,520 in funds, a trailer with more than 4,000 shares on Facebook (in our best week, we reached 375,000 Facebook users), broadcast licenses, and the audience award for best pitch at the Hot Docs International Film Festival Forum.
That’s in addition to our thousands of supporters who remain devoted fans of Caleb. Even cooler, they’re using Facebook and Twitter to talk about fracking, indigenous peoples’ issues, and the new economy. And they continue to donate!
So, how did we do it? The following are 8 steps we took to ensure success:
1. Preparation and Research
I read a ton of blog posts about crowdfunding and talked with anyone I could who had experience. I learned that persistence and timing were essential – and that knowing how to tell your story was central.
2. Focused, Consistent Storytelling
In the lead-up to our launch, we organized our contacts and reached out to our networks to let them know we’d be asking for their help in sharing our story. We spent a lot of time telling our story to each other, our friends, and anyone else who would listen. The more we did this, the closer we came to crafting our pitch.
3. Cater to Gift Lovers
A key part of telling our story was through perks, which we really pushed during the gift-giving month of December. Each perk illustrated how we could heal this “fractured land.” While the most popular were DVDs and party tickets, others helped demonstrate a commitment to enriching the local economy, sharing the traditions of Caleb’s people’s culture, and connecting to the land in a more meaningful way.
4. Have A Collaboration Strategy
We understood that if we wanted our community to share generously – be it through money or social media shout-outs – we had to be generous in sharing ownership of both the project and our megaphone. Alongside our campaign, we promoted a petition by the Fort Nelson First Nation to protect freshwater from fracking in their region.
We also reached out to leaders in a variety of sectors to serve as mentors for one of our reward categories. Funders could either receive mentorship themselves, or gift the opportunity to a young person in our network.
5. Provide High Quality, Highly Shareable Content
In addition to several trailers released throughout the campaign, our creative assets included video, web chats, film stills, graphics and blog posts that educated about the issues explored in the film. We also positioned ourselves as a resource for fracking information, events, and rallies.
6. Have A Media Strategy
We wanted a strong presence in the campaign’s final days. Working with PR consultant Mercedes Grant, we pushed two media releases. Interviews with Caleb and the filmmakers were featured in multiple publications, which created a social media buzz that brought in new supporters.
7. Host In-Person Events
We launched the campaign at an event organized by Gen Why Media, in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. It was a great way to educate people of all ages on fracking, show the film’s trailer, and invite them to join us in fighting injustice through our campaign.
Then, the week before campaign’s end, we threw a “VIP” party of close friends and influencers to share our journey. The food, music, and event planning was all donated, and the attendees really appreciated engaging on a personal level with the filmmaking process.
Soon, they were sharing our Indiegogo link through social media. The best part of it all was seeing screenshots of our Indiegogo campaign posted on our funders’ Facebook pages, complete with play-by-play updates of our funding progress. Just remembering that day gives me chills.
8. Listen to the Little Voice
About a week before the end of the campaign, I hit my limit. I was working my regular full-time job, blogging, social media’ing and networking at events. I was running on about 3 hours of sleep per night and starting to make poor decisions. Thank god for my team – though we were all exhausted. Then, I heard a little voice in my head. It said, “you’ve done the work, now let go.” I realized I’d done everything I could, and now I had to let the thing run its course.
I let my media manager handle her projects, let the filmmakers take ownership of their networks, and let myself relax. As soon as I did, the whole thing just flowed. It was magic.