I’ve supported many projects on KickStarter, and I’m a big fan of it and other crowdfunding sites. I’ve shared my thoughts on it a few times here. I also will often blog, Tweet about or otherwise share links to projects I think are worthy of support. I’ve never personally supported a project where I didn’t somehow know the person(s) involved. Maybe we weren’t friends, but I’d met them at some conference or film festival, or had at least seen them pitch their project somewhere else.
I know many people support projects by people unknown to them, even people they’ve never heard of. I think this is a valid practice, but it’s not for me. My wife, on the other hand, has only supported one project and it wasn’t someone she knew at all, she just liked the thing this person was trying to do, but she had no account so I made the donation on her behalf.
Sometimes I support projects that are or have been clients of mine, or where I have some business relationship with the person, or have had something like this in the past. I try to always disclose this, but usually in a blog post, not on Twitter due to the 140 character limit.
I get asked to spread the word about projects all the time. Increasingly, I get asked by people I’ve never met, to support films by people I’ve not only never met, but whose films I’ve never seen. I understand the impulse – when spreading the word about a project, this is what people think you have to do. Cold calling. But I don’t think it’s the proper way to fundraise. If you want me to support your project, I’m simply not the kind of person who responds to a Tweet and then Retweets it to my (small amount of) followers. Plenty of people find someone who knows me and asks them to make an introduction. I’m not that hard to find this way. There’s a slim chance I might respond to a random email or Facebook introduction – with some explanation of why I might care about your project, but I’ll never just auto-retweet to help you out. Sorry.
I’ve helped many people run successful Kickstarter campaigns. We target and reach out to people who don’t know us, but we always contextualize the ask – “Hey Mister Blogger about topic this film covers, we think you might care about this because of X,Y and Z. If you agree, we’d love your support by way of spreading the word. If not, sorry to bother you, and we won’t contact you again.” Works much better than “Hey @bloggerpants show me some love.” What works even better? “Hey Jill, we met at DIYDays and had a nice chat in the hall. I noticed you know Ms. Famous Blogger, and I wonder if you could make an intro so I can explain this film I’m working on, and why I think she’d like to help spread the word.”
I also don’t think the few people who read/follow me would appreciate me turning on the firehose. Part of the reason I follow people and respond to their requests is because they curate what they promote. I do the same – I’m not spreading the word about something unless I know the people involved somehow, know their work and/or it’s something I’m passionate about. IMHO, this is how fundraising works generally, in both the old and new fashioned worlds, and more people need to realize the old quality/quantity argument applies here as well.
Why do I bother to write this up now? Because I can’t respond individually to everyone who asks me for help. As crowdfunding gets more popular, I am getting such requests often, sometimes several in a day. I’m sure people with more followers than me are getting deluged with requests as well. I’m sure each of these projects is worthy, and some might be 100 times better than what I’ve supported. But I support the person as much as the project, and now you know why I’m not tweeting about more projects.
I don’t automatically follow people who follow me online either, but that’s a whole ‘nother post.
Now…back to making my list of people to contact for my next Kickstarter campaign!