Documentary filmmakers David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg need your money.
They’re using a popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter and social media to raise funds to make a documentary about the life of Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”
According to entrepreneur.com, crowdfunding is the process of raising money to fund special projects through many donors (i.e., crowd) using an online platform.
Alvarado and Sussberg initially asked for $650,000 when they launched their campaign in July. Many science-friendly donors and Nye fans were quick to respond, pledging amounts ranging from $5 to $10,000.
The project is flush with pledges totaling a little over $800,000. And the best part: Those pledges came from more than 16,000 backers. This social media community, or “crowd,” came together to fund Alvarado and Sussberg’s project because they found something of value in it.
In my best Nye impersonation: “That’s cool!”
What makes the Nye project even more interesting from a crowdfunding perspective is that it is now the most successful online fundraising campaigns for documentary film project.
Crowdfunded projects usually have a limited timetable for raising money (e.g., 90 days), and the fees and rules for raising that money are different for each platform. Because of this limited time frame, developers are encouraged to use social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to drive potential funders to their “campaign” home page.
Campaigns provide details in the form of text and images, but the most successful usually include a video. It’s the equivalent of a short infomercial.
Alvarado and Sussberg’s infomercial is entertaining, informative and persuasive (it made me want to pledge a few bucks). Their introduction to the project and Bill Nye (who is clearly being a good sport about the whole thing) is clever and interesting, and they provide a quick overview of the project.
Donors pledge money and, in return, they often receive some sort of reward for their donation. I once backed the recording of an album by a band managed by one of my former students, and got two signed copies of the band’s CD for my donation.
Nye documentary donors can receive a bow tie for their dog or a custom Bill Nye coffee mug for a pledge at the $35 level. For $100, donors can get a signed copy of one of Bill Nye’s children’s books, and their name in the film credits, among other goodies.
Although Kickstarter focuses on funding for music, theater, games, comics and other arts-related projects, platforms like GoFundMe and Indiegogo allow developers to raise funds for charity (raising money for medical bills) and educational projects (creating a learning center in the Appalachian Mountains).
Some platforms, such as Crowdfunder, focus on raising investment dollars, regardless of the business. In essence, they’re connecting entrepreneurs with donors who want a stake in the business.
Whether you’re making the next big-budget film, need funds for an art-related project, or looking for help with medical bills, crowdfunding lets you take your idea and need to the masses.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.