Raising money for an idea on fundstak.com – Creative Crowdfunding

fundstak is more than just a funding tool. It’s a community of people who love to share and support creative ideas. Every fundstak project is the story of something new coming to life. We’re happy you’ve found your way here, and we’re thrilled to help you on your journey.

If you’ve ever wanted to create something new with a community of enthusiastic people cheering you on, you’ve come to the right place.

We hope it’ll help you get started with shaping your own project, whether it’s to make a movie, an album, a game, a gadget, a play, a restaurant, or pretty much anything else that springs from the imagination.

fundstak is more than just a funding tool. It’s a community of people who love to share and support creative ideas. Every fundstak project is the story of something new coming to life. We’re happy you’ve found your way here, and we’re thrilled to help you on your journey.

Getting Started

Your project can be anything that you want to create and share with others. It could be a book, a film, a piece of hardware… pretty much anything you dream up can find a home on fundstak. Just keep your project focused, with a clear end goal, and you’ll be good.

Every fundstak project should have the following:

  • A project page with a video and description that clearly explain the story behind your project
  • Rewards that backers will receive when the project is completed
  • Updates that share the creative journey as the project comes to life

Let’s go through these, one by one. We’ll get started with your project page — where you’ll tell people your story.

Telling your story

Imagine explaining your project to a friend. What would you say? What might they ask you? And how would you show them you’re serious, prepared, and capable of doing a great job? Your project page is your chance to tell people that story: who you are, what you want to make, and why.

If your project is simple and straightforward, then maybe your project page can be, too. If you’re doing something more complex, share details to demonstrate that you know what you’re doing. Either way, there are some basic questions you should answer:

  • Who are you? Introduce yourself, your team, and any similar work you’ve done (show some examples!).
  • What are you planning to make? The more details, the better. Sketches, samples, prototypes — it all helps backers get as excited as you are.
  • Where did this project come from? Tell people how you got the idea, and how much you’ve accomplished so far. Sharing the project’s history helps others understand the kind of work you do, and how you go about it.
  • What’s your plan, and what’s your schedule? Lay out a clear, specific timeline for what backers can expect.
  • What’s your budget? A simple breakdown lets people know you’ve thought things through and have a workable plan, so they can trust you to use funds wisely.
  • Why do you care? Tell people why you’re passionate about your project and committed to making it happen.

A lot of your story can be conveyed with words, but there’s more to a good project page than text. Images and video are a huge help for bringing people inside your story. Check out the tips here and below for more on what we think makes a standout project.

  • Choose a great project image. Remember: it’s the first part of your project people will see — you’ll want to make a good first impression. Here are some tips on choosing an image and grabbing attention.
  • Make a compelling video. It’s the best way to introduce yourself, and to give people a closer look at what you’re working on. It doesn’t have to be super slick; some of our favorite videos have a very DIY feel. In fact, here’s how you can make a project video on your own, without extra equipment or a film crew.
  • Consider adding captions and subtitles. Captions, subtitles, and translations help more people understand what you have to say and get involved with your project (whatever their language or hearing level).
  • Get creative. Include gifs, soundclips, and graphs. Try to keep some media items under 5MB so that they’re easily shareable.

Building rewards

Why do people back projects? To start, they want to support what you’re doing. But they also want to feel like they’re getting something in return — and rewards let them share in your creation.

Some rewards are simple. If you’re making a book, for example, you offer copies of it. Other rewards — like behind-the-scenes souvenirs or personalized work — get backers more involved in the creative process.

  • What should you offer? You know better than anyone what your community wants. Think of things that would get you to back a project. Offer copies of your work in different formats, from digital downloads to limited editions. Consider custom work and chances to be a part of the process.
  • What should you not offer? There are a few things we prohibit, including offering financial returns and reselling items from elsewhere.
  • How to price. Be fair. When people think about backing your project, they’re asking themselves whether your rewards are a good trade for what they’re contributing. The most popular pledge on fundstak is $25 — it’s handy to offer something substantial around that level.
  • Offer a range of rewards. Some backers can spare $100, some $20, some $5. Every one of those backers counts. Make sure there’s something worthwhile at every level — even simple $1 rewards. You’ll need to produce and deliver every reward, though, so think through each tier and make sure your budget works!

Once you’ve decided on your rewards, you’ll find plenty of tools and options that let you organize them so they fit your schedule and budget.

  • Itemize or limit your rewards. Our itemization tool allows you to give titles to your reward tiers, clearly list out what you’re offering, and specify exact quantities. You can also limit the available quantity of any reward tier to a certain number of backers — because, well, if you were planning to hand-knit twenty scarves, you might not want pledges for 2,000 of them! Quantity limits can also create excitement around special-edition rewards or signed copies. Limited “early bird” rewards, where a certain number of backers get something for a slightly lower pledge, can also help build momentum during the project’s early days.
  • Estimated delivery dates. These are your best guesses for when you expect to deliver rewards to backers. For each tier, choose a date you’re confident about hitting, and don’t be afraid to give yourself breathing room — it’s definitely better to underpromise and overdeliver. For complex projects, it can be useful to stagger the estimated delivery dates for different reward tiers, sending out rewards in batches over a period of time. More on this in the “Funding” section.
  • Shipping. As you add each reward, you’ll be able to specify whether the item involves shipping, which locations you can ship to, and the shipping costs. (You can get very specific, if you need to) Shipping costs can sneak up on you, so make sure you have them covered — the costs you set will be added to backer’s pledges as they check out, and count toward your goal.

Remember: once your project is live, you can add new rewards any time — but once someone has pledged to a reward tier, you can’t change it anymore.

Funding

Your funding goal should be the minimum amount you need to make what you promised and fulfill all rewards. The first step to setting that goal is figuring out a budget.

  • Make a list. Write down every possible expense — even less obvious ones, like shipping tape and bubble wrap. For larger expenses, research the best price. Total everything up. It’s okay if the number is bigger than expected: even if your project feels simple, it’s best to make sure every step is accounted for.
  • Consider your reach. fundstak is a great way to share your ideas with new people. Still, most of your support will come from your core networks, and the people most familiar with your work. Consider the audiences you can tap into, from friends and fans to online communities, and make a conservative estimate of how many backers you can realistically bring in.
  • Give yourself a cushion. If your project is successfully funded, fundstak applies a 5% fee; there are also additional fees for our payment processors. Every project’s tax situation is different, but that may affect your needs as well — learn more here. More than anything, you’ll want a little padding in case of unexpected costs or emergencies.
  • Set a deadline. Your funding period can last anywhere from one to 60 days. Statistically, though, projects lasting 30 days or fewer have our highest success rates. Shorter periods set a tone of confidence, help motivate people to back, and let you make a planned, concerted push to spread the word.
  • Stretch goals. You can’t change your funding goal once you’ve launched. But once that goal has been reached, some projects add incentives — like new features, colors, or gifts to backers — to hit even higher funding milestones. These stretch goals can work for some — but they can also be challenging. They’re a better idea when they improve the work (like adding more levels to a video game), instead of creating something entirely new.
  • And if your project suddenly explodes? Unexpected popularity can be a nice problem to have. But when you designed a budget to make 100 of something, it’s tricky to suddenly have 10,000 pledges! If you feel like you’ve hit your limit, you can always cap your rewards. You can also stagger release dates — cap the original reward at a number you can handle, then add more with a later delivery date, so you don’t have to do everything at once. Let backers know in advance that the demand might affect your schedule.

Promotion

While an exceptional project can find outpourings of support from all over the web, much of your support may still come from people who already know your work: your fans, friends, and community. Read on for tips on spreading the word about your idea, and getting people as excited about the project as you are.

Prepare an outreach plan.

Before you launch, think through how you’ll approach promoting your project. This step-by-step guide will help you think through all of the ways you can spread the word. Outside of your nearest and dearest, who’ll be interested in what you’re doing? Gather lists of relevant blogs, media outlets, and online communities — like forums, message boards, or Facebook groups you know will care about your work. If you’re making a board game, think of the games communities you can send word to; if it’s something for kids, think about parenting forums and blogs. Compile your contact lists, and organize your strategy.

Announce your project.

Once your project is live, let people know! Share it on Facebook, and send out a few tweets. Email friends and family. Keep your mailing groups small and your messages personal, showcasing your project’s unique features and rewards — a personal note tends to get a better response than a form letter. Try not to overwhelm people with e-blasts and group messages, but do remind your networks throughout your project’s funding.

Pitch the press.

But first, do a little research. Google topics and projects related to yours and see who writes about them, and find venues and publications that cover similar work. Explore where your project fits in the broader context of your field. Check out this video for advice from other creators on how to get press coverage.

How to Pitch Your Project

If you’re getting in touch with press, make sure to include the essentials: who, what, where, when, and why. People appreciate concise messages that respect their time and give them exactly the information they need. Put yourself in their shoes, and tell them why your idea is worth covering. Some tips to remember:

  • Twitter is your friend. Many reporters list direct contact info there.
  • Keep your contact lists targeted. Reach out to people and sources you know are interested in topics like yours.
  • Mention who’s available for interviews. That goes double if prominent folks are involved in your project.
  • Offer any content you can. Show off a sample, a trailer, or a preview.
  • Be thoughtful about timing. When will it be most relevant to cover your project? And how long do you think each media outlet will need to prepare a piece?
  • Don’t be pushy. Be considerate — bothering people can have bad consequences for your project.

Some Inside Tips

Here are some things that are definitely worth trying:

  • Host an event. Rally close friends and fans with a party, performance, or get-together. Bring along a tablet so people can make pledges on the spot — or send out a link to all your RSVPs letting them know they can pledge via fundstak.com, right on their smartphones.
  • Line up help. If your goal is ambitious, you might need more than just yourself to get the word out. Get others involved — like your collaborators, peers, or cast and crew.
  • Keep your wits about you. You might get some strange offers. You might feel overwhelmed. You might get an extraordinary media opportunity you never expected. Just keep things in perspective and you’ll do great!

And a few things you definitely shouldn’t try:

  • Don’t spam. People will like your project a lot better if it’s coming from an amazing, creative person — not from someone acting like a spambot. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information.
  • Don’t trust every offer that comes your way. If a marketing offer seems too good to be true, trust your instincts! And make sure you know what you’re actually being offered — you don’t want someone sending spam on your behalf.
  • Don’t expect magic. Chances are, you can’t just toss your project out into the world and sit back while everyone raves about it. Put in the work to let people know what you’re doing, and watch your efforts pay off.

Communicating with backers

Throughout your project, you’ll be communicating with backers and keeping them informed of your progress. Project updates, your project page, and our messaging system will help you keep backers in the loop.

  • Updates. Think of these as your project’s blog. Keep backers engaged through interesting and shareable updates, and encourage them to spread the word about your progress, like this project did. Backers aren’t just looking for updates on when their rewards will show up — most of them love a look at the details of how work like yours is actually made. Show them!
  • Update options. You can post text-only updates, or you can include images, video, and even sound clips.
  • Messages. You can use messages to communicate with backers one-on-one. Remember to check your messages and comments regularly, and respond to any questions. If you find that you’re frequently getting questions about the same topic, consider making it the subject of your next update.

Backers appreciate regular, insightful, and honest updates. Don’t be hesitant to communicate delays or changes to your original plans — or to just check in. (If backers don’t hear from you for a while, they worry that you may be having trouble doing the work you promised).

Fulfillment

Fulfillment: that means completing your project, getting rewards to backers, and communicating with them to make sure the process goes smoothly. Like every other step, this one requires planning and budgeting.

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