Ready, steady, IndieGoGo for next generation DIY

The crowdsourcing mechanism IndieGoGo was set up to provide a way to fund film and media projects collaboratively.

By Rosie Lavan

IndieGoGo helps projects from films to social causes seek funds and support

IndieGoGo aims to provide the practical support to help people raise money for their project, offer perks to those who back it and retain complete ownership of their work.

Originally, IndieGoGo focused on sourcing support for film projects, and within a year of its launch in 2008 it had become the largest online film funding platform. It extended its remit in 2010 to offer tools for any project – creative, entrepreneurial or linked to a social cause – seeking up to $100,000. It has spread to 115 countries and enabled more than 4,000 projects to get off the ground.

The IndieGoGo site invites people to upload their project idea, and then supporters can back it – typically pledging amounts between $1 and $5,000 – with the promise of perks in return, like a credit in a film or behind-the-scenes access to a project.

In March 2010 IndieGoGo added analytics to every project, enabling people to monitor the success of their fundraising. Available data includes how many hits their project page has attracted, how many people have contributed to it and how much has been raised, and the number of visits that have come from people sharing information with friends on social networks. There is a still more strategic dimension to this, too – people can find out which fans or organisations are promoting their project, and how much web traffic and financial backing this has translated into. They can also follow the fortunes of affiliate campaigns.

Their crowdsourcing model champions both filmmaker and audience. It is based on the DIWO concept. Co-founder Slava Rubin, who manages strategy and marketing for the service, explains. “We believe DIY is a thing of the past so that’s why we call it DIWO – do it with others.”

IndieGoGo provides step-by-step guidance – such as checklists, timelines and tactics for marketing and fundraising – and ensures that creatives retain 100 per cent ownership of their project. At the same time, it helps them build a community of supporters – both an audience and an active force and resource, ready to back the project and promote the finished work. The audience, in turn, get the opportunity to be involved in every stage of a project. Tapestries of Hope, a documentary exposing sexual abuse in Zimbabwe, is one of IndieGoGo’s great film success stories, having raised more than $23,000.

In 2009 IndieGoGo launched a partnership with the San Francisco Film Society to provide a single platform solution for filmmakers, combining fiscal sponsorship with audience building and crowdfunding activities. Its acquisition of distribution platform Distribber in March 2010 strengthened its influence in the world of independent film, and enabled it to offer subscribers support through the entire filmmaking process.

Co-founder Danae Ringelmann started out on Wall Street. After years looking closely at the business models of major entertainment companies like Dreamworks and Pixar she became convinced that funding of creative industries, notably film, needed to be transformed and democratised. She explained the idea to Fast Company in March 2010, when they named her among their Most Influential Women in Technology. “We realized there’s the donation market where people give money, then the financing market where people want a return on their money. Well, there’s this whole middle area where the motivation is to back something and really become a part of it.”

Key project

Tapestries of Hope

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