I’m thinking about launching my own pop-up but I don’t know how I’m going to cover the project financially. Is crowdfunding suitable for me?
Hosting a pop-up isn’t always necessarily an expensive exercise, but we know that sometimes a bit of extra help is needed when it comes to covering the costs.
There are some amazing initiatives out there for raising money towards your project which tap into the global reach of the internet. So-called crowdfunding involves creating a campaign which online communities can pledge cash to in return for rewards of your choice. If people like what they see, they’ll support you, whether you need money for a pop-up graduate art show or a breakthrough temporary restaurant.
We asked Jess Ratty, Brand Communications Manager at Crowdfunder, Michael Stewart, Communications at Kickstarter, and Sophie Giblin, artist and founder of crowdfunded pop up Kollektiv Gallery for their expert tips on how to harness the power of your fans and crowdfund your next project.
Get a team together
When it comes to launching a crowdfunding campaign for your pop-up, our experts recommend you get a team involved. “No man is an island!” states Jess. “At Crowdfunder we know that it takes energy, passion and commitment – getting a team involved and having individual roles and responsibilities not only spreads the load, it also increases the reach of the campaign and also makes it a real team effort.”
Sophie adds that “having a talented crew committed to a clear unanimous goal will help your campaign reach your funding target. And of course creating and working with a team is fun, it helps your Kickstarter reach more people, stand out and attract curiosity amongst the vast archive of campaigns”.
Enlist the help of friends, family and likeminded creatives who share the same vision and passion behind your pop-up project. For Kollektiv, the group was made up of 20 artists wanting to open a gallery in an empty shop. Sophie explains that “we problem-solved, shared the workload, spread the word and completed the project.” Put together a pop-up team and you can both strengthen your own skill-set and build on the positivity of others.
Before you launch
Another thing to think about before launching your campaign, according to Michael, is to put in the legwork and make the most of what you’ve already got. “You should be as far along as you can reasonably go without the money. Having a lot of the work done gives you something to show, and it allows you to focus your energy on running the campaign itself.”
Even if you’re at the very early stages of your pop-up concept, make sure you go and ‘do’ something – just try it. Create something tangible that people can get behind, beyond just an idea.
Jess emphasises that planning is one of the main aspects to think about when crowdfunding for your pop-up: “setting a great target, creating an engaged network, organising a marketing plan and having some great rewards for everyone to pledge on.
“For example, Snact, an eco-loving fruit jerky company, built a plan knowing exactly what they were going to do throughout their Crowdfunder campaign to promote it. They said that “contacting people directly and with personal messages was key. Starting a conversation and sharing this new exciting adventure in your life is really effective!””
Budgets and targets
When it comes to setting a goal for your campaign, Jess tells us that “it’s important to identify your supporters (or groups of supporters), estimate how much each supporter or group might pledge, and make sure that this total exceeds your target. Test and examine your assumptions as part of your campaign planning by asking your friends, supporters and family how much they may each consider pledging to get a great idea of what people are willing to pay to support you and your pop-up idea.”
Sarah Bentley from Made In Hackney, a community kitchen in London, said: “Look at your network and work back to discover how much you think you can raise. It’s got to be big enough to be worth all the effort – but it’s also got to be attainable and realistic so you don’t waste your time.”
According to Michael it is important to think about the bare minimum you realistically need to launch your pop-up. “Be sure to factor absolutely everything into that – the raw cost of what it is you’re trying to do, the cost of rewards you expect to produce, shipping, taxes, and platform fees (usually an additional 5-10%).
Pro-tip: Things always cost a bit more, and take a bit longer, than you expect them to.”
The 5 W’s
You need to think about how you will get your campaign across to potential backers. Michael advises including the 5 W’s on your page: “who are you or who is involved in the team , what is it that you’re trying to do, when and where are you doing it, and why should I care? Also the one H — how are you planning on getting it done?”
He adds that you need to make sure you share your campaign with your pop-up concept’s existing audience, as well as thinking about how to reach new ones: “Do you have online communities you’re a part of? Are there places you visit in real life that might be willing to tell folks about your thing, or at least hang a poster?”
You should upload an eye-catching project image, an informative and exciting video explaining what your pop-up is all about, and offer some interesting rewards to attract people to the campaign. Ian Slade from Stiltskin arts and theatre gives some tips for your video: “Keep it short, sweet and attention grabbing. It is all in the preparation – script what needs to be said and work out a storyboard for shots. Find the human story – who will benefit and how.”
If you’re stuck on what kind of reward you should offer, make it something creative and unique to your pop-up concept that will stand out and appeal to a wide range of people. The more money people pledge, the bigger the reward – Jess tells us that you need to “remember to create a set of different price points to suit every budget and don’t forget that you’ll want them to be good value for money.
“Also, make sure to reach out to your network when creating your rewards – you never know what people will gift you that you can use as a reward on your campaign. If you are a business with a product – it’s always great to pre-sell via crowdfunding – give your pledgers “early-bird” deals and one off opportunities.”
Alternatively, if you’re launching a pop-up gallery filled with the work of various different artists, why not take a leaf out of Kollektiv Gallery’s book. Sophie says “I asked all the artists to contribute something they’d made to the incentive list for us to raise the cash we needed. Stickers, prints, piece of arts, terrariums, bespoke artworks, workshops… the lot.”
Think about offering exclusive tickets to your pop-up launch party or discount vouchers towards your clothing line. Maybe cookery lessons at your restaurant or free coffee for a month at your cafe. What about rewarding the highest pledge with a year’s worth of screenings at your pop-up cinema?
Spread the word
It’s important to create a marketing plan that encompasses the whole of your campaign from start to finish, and even a little bit before. Jess explains that “it’s true that 90% of the work that goes into a campaign is done in the weeks leading up to launching your fundraising project. Create a marketing plan that includes messaging around pre-launch, launch, live crowdfunding and post-success thanks and awareness driving. Having a plan around social media is a great way to drive pledges and awareness.”
Sophie’s Kollektiv Gallery has run two crowdfunding campaigns which both hit 50% of their target within an incredible 24 hours and hit full funding within 2 weeks – testament to how the team built up momentum in the lead-up to the campaign.
Samantha Dobbie from The Real Junk Food Project in Brighton adds: “Facebook was responsible for the majority of our Crowdfunder pledges. We made regular updates and frequently linked to the Crowdfunder page. It was a great space to post up images of the project and gain peoples attention.”
Keep people interested
One of the most challenging aspects of running a crowdfunder campaign is keeping up the momentum to make sure people stay interested. Mike explains that “you’ll see a spike of pledges when the project is new, and again near the end when the urgency sets in. That middle section is called the plateau – keep communicating, both to existing backers and new people; share something interesting.”
Also, launch parties are not only a great way to kick off your funding campaign, but also to create more interest halfway down the line. Luke Berkley from Newquay Community Orchard says “we created a launch event which was great success – we raised the majority of our funds on that night. We also had a follow up day event midway through our campaign to keep momentum and also include families. Showcase your video, have a live link to the total so people can watch it grow, and create a buzz!”
Don’t be disheartened
Some crowdfunding platforms operate under an ‘all-or-nothing’ basis – if you don’t reach your goal in the time period you have set, you can’t keep any of the money you have raised and it’s refunded to the backers. Kickstarter uses this model and it is also an option on Crowdfunder – this is useful because it creates a sense of urgency for people donating to the project.
However, if you don’t reach your target, don’t feel defeated. Michael explains that this ‘all-or-nothing’ approach actually diminishes risk. “You might think you’re losing a bunch of money if you don’t hit your goal, but if you calculated your expenses properly, how exactly do you plan to complete your project with half of the funding needed?
“Go back to the drawing board, tweak, round up a bigger audience, and try again. That’s how Coolest Cooler did it! Here’s his first try.” Your funding campaign is a great way of learning from your audience in order to test the market and strengthen your overall concept. Sort of like an initial experiment before the experience of your pop-up.
Reward vs. Equity
It is useful to note the difference between reward-based and equity-based crowdfunding. Regular crowdfunding, such as the initiatives mentioned above, collects funds from a community for a public project and the funders then receive rewards such as tickets, discounts or custom gifts, but no financial gain. When it is equity-based, such as Crowdcube or Seedrs, the funder becomes an official shareholder in the company and gains certain rights for making decisions within the business.
For more information head to Crowdfunder or Kickstarter and start your own project now. Also, check out this in-depth manual from Kollektiv Gallery about exhibiting in a vacant space and learning how to crowdfund.
Crowdfunder connects projects with communities to make great ideas happen all over the UK.
Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative projects – big or small, from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology.
Kollektiv Gallery is aimed at emerging artists, supporting creatives who want to crowdfund and open galleries. You can read more about their Brighton pop up here.
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