Crowdfunding has become a popular way of raising funds for anything, from tuition fees to book publication. Arts projects are particularly suited to this fundraising route, with access to a wide pool of engaged stakeholders and a great way to raise vital match funds for funding applications.

Dorchester Arts, Dorset’s county town arts centre, recently launched its first crowdfunding appeal for a major community music project in 2019.

So, what are the key learning points for them?

Most important

Like decorating, 90% is preparation. The majority of the work in your campaign should happen weeks before you go live to the public, making sure you know how much you are asking for, and why, as well as planning out how you will promote your campaign in order to reach as many donors as possible.

Listen to the experts

Dorchester Arts worked with Stir to Action, a Dorset based consultancy that supports Community Economic Development. They advised on the process from initial thoughts to launch; an invaluable way to keep focussed on the process and understand what made a good campaign, how to tell the story, who was successful – and why.

You need a compelling video

Successful campaigns had one thing in common, they told their story well through video.

Dorchester Arts could access performers from the local youth theatre, had a relationship with a talented local filmmaker (and a drone!), got permission to use the project venue for the shoot, and had support from the Mayor of Dorchester, who dressed in full regalia to film one shot.

And being a music project, the soundtrack was a bonus!

Use everything you have

Within the video were basic but colourful illustrations – it was unplanned, but these seven images became key to the look and feel of the whole campaign, linking the video with the page, part of social media in the countdown to the launch, and used on print to drive donations.

Think about your audience(s)

One lightbulb moment was thinking of everyone who may donate, from the most committed inner circle to a public who are aware but not engaged. This approach became a valuable tool, constantly referred to and consulted.

By asking a few key donors to donate in the first few days, you get off to a good start. You then have something to shout about and can continue to approach your donor pool in a ripple effect, working outwards from committed donors, to engaged stakeholders, and finally to the wider public.

Never underestimate how long it will take

Crowdfunding?  It’s all about the preparation.

Dorchester Arts took ten weeks in total to prepare, identify its donor pool, shoot and edit its video, build its project page and promote the campaign. But the initial indications are great having reached 80% of its target within the first week.

See the full Dorchester Arts Crowdfunder campaign here that runs until 6 December 2018.

Have you run any successful crowdfunding campaigns and have other top tips to share? If so, comment below or tell us about it on our Culture+ Facebook group here.