“[Crowfunding] is not great at building the tribe, but leveraging the tribe.” – Seth Godin

CLEARLY, 2012 is the year of the Apocalypse. Running a close second, you might consider this to be the year crowdfunding finally reached a tipping point. It was only 4 years ago that both Kickstarter and Indiegogo opened their virtual doors, and the dreams of artists and entrepreneurs have been forever altered.

Now there are hundreds of platforms, expanding out of creative projects to neighbourhood repair and hybrid’s of traditional investment funding models.

Given this meteoric rise, it’s natural to assume that therefore, every project is ripe for a campaign. You may be surprised to discover that not every project is suited for crowdfunding – and a number of factors should be considered before jumping on the bandwagon. (Full disclosure: I have some involvement with the examples I use below, whether through strategic advising or direct participation in their campaigns).

Will people care about my project?

One of the dangers of being passionate about a certain topic/project or idea is that you have a tendency to believe everyone will be as interested in it as you. Don’t wait to figure this out by launching your campaign. Instead, share your project idea with others and pay attention to their response. Ideally, this would include your friends but also people outside your inner circle that aren’t afraid to play devil’s advocate. This will also challenge your ability to distill your project down to its essence (also known as the ‘elevator pitch’).

For a great example, check out the pitch trailer for “Fractured Land” – a film about Caleb Behn, a young Dene man from the northeastern British Columbia who is fighting the fracking industry and its impact on his peoples’ territory. The story is familiar as indigenous groups are struggling with familiar battles around the world. What happens here could be a lesson for how we grapple with the insatiable appetite for energy.

Support Fractured Land here!

Do I have an existing network to build momentum right out of the gate?

Prolific author and marketer Seth Godin has argued for years that the age of the consumer is dead. Love live the rise of the tribe. Essentially, a tribe is a network of people that share similar ideas and values. When considering your crowdfunding project, think: do you have an existing tribe that can help you spread the word and bring in other contributors with their shared passion? This ingredient isn’t make or break, as some project ideas are so compelling, they breakthrough the noise and find their tribe.

For example, check out this project “Aung San Suu Kyi and Democracy’s New Voices of Freedom”.

Support “Aung San Suu Kyi and Democracy’s New Voices of Freedom”

This project has a huge opportunity to tap into existing networks that support Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma’s struggle for freedom, along with other spiritual and peace groups around the world.

Does my project fit the crowdfunding model?

One of the key features of a creative crowdfunding campaigns is a tangible goal or “thing.” It could be a film, an album, a health operation, a conference, etc. Another way to think of this question is: how will the world be different once this project is complete? This is what your potential contributors will be pondering. Nobody likes to see their money flow into a black hole, but often that’s what campaigners are doing when they launch with an ambiguous goal. Sometimes, if a campaign starts vague, once you dive into you’ll discover one aspect of the project can be expanded upon to become the more compelling goal.

Is my funding goal realistic?

Now that we’re 4 years into crowdfunding, it’s become clear that every type of project has a sweet spot in terms of funding goal. For example, on Kickstarter the most popular successfully funded tier for Film & Video is 10,000-19,999. Film & Video also takes the top spot for the 20,000-99,999 range. Once you reach 100K and above, the most success projects are in the Design and Game categories. This is only one part of the equation. Other factors to consider are: the size of your friends/family network willing to contribute, the applicability of the subject matter to a wider audience (see ‘will anyone care?’ above) and more.

Watch “Be Brave“- the story of Dan Northcott, a filmmaker from Vancouver with an unbelievable story. The goal for the campaign is $108,000 – ambitious, but given the incredible subject nature of the film, and the team behind the project, this is a story for all of us.

Support Be Brave.

Do I want my idea out in the world?

Crowdfunding is fundamentally public. If you’re concerned that your idea will be stolen, and/or adapted by a competitor, or any other reason you don’t want the world to know about it, then crowdfunding is not for you. That said, I tend to reassure creators that almost every idea already exists in the world – the real task is actually making it happen, which is what you’d be doing with a campaign.

Am I ready to work hard?

Crowdfunding is hard work. Crowdfunding is not easy money. Crowdfunding can often seem like a full-time job during a campaign. I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with creators who underestimated the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it took to guide a successful campaign. If you’re not prepared to work, or simply don’t have the time, better look for more traditional sources for raising funds, or wait until you can dive in head long.

Don’t miss: 7 Ways to Craft a Kickass Crowdfunding Video


  1. Hi Ian!

    “How will the world be different once this project is complete?”

    Thank you for that article and for that sentence – it should be the fundamental question for everyone who’s thinking about crowfunding project. I was looking at number of them, just to find out simple fact: most of the projects, that promise some visible outcome, use to have bigger support. The others, which won’t have it, permanently lack of funding. Why? Even if you don’t expect anything from the idea you are supporting, you will expect it to be the trigger of change somehow.

    I thought about supporting of my mountain expedition this way. Now I see it COULD work, but it’s definitelly not the best goal for crowfunding project!

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