Be Smart About Art

A fresh perspective on crowdfunding for the arts

written by: Susan Mumford July 15, 2015 2) 1-2-1 Support: stories and inspiration 3427 views

A fresh perspective on crowdfunding for the arts

Image above: Susan's childhood Summertime initiative, selling a sweet fruit punch drink called 'Kool-Aid' on the street corner, with her first team (i.e., neighbours).  
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Here at Be Smart About Art, we’re 29 days into a 35-day rewards-based crowdfunding campaign. A big part of the reason we set to doing this is you.

As time goes, an increasing number of people in the creative industries are utilising crowdsourcing as a way of assembling vital funds, to turn good ideas into reality. In order to truly understand what people are undergoing, we decided to do it ourselves. And my, oh my, what an exercise it has proven to be!

Here are three top tips from our fresh – and still ongoing, experience:

1. It’s down to YOUR network.

Whether or not you have a team (as I do), it is you, the visionary, the individual pursuing an unconventional path, who must see it through to the end.

Thank goodness we’re running the campaign in our quietest time of year: Summer. The timing in our case was a stroke of luck; changes at Be Smart About Art resulted in launching six weeks later than planned. This kind of fundraising takes many days of solid dedication, and having a packed calendar won’t allow you the time required. Think ahead: will you be able to dedicate most of your time to the cause?


2. One of your chief tasks is to help well-intending contacts take action.

Anyone else who has done this type of fundraising will understand this one all too well!

As well-meaning as friends and colleagues are, and as much as they intend to support your project, other happenings in life distract them, your messages drop down the page, and you find that verbal pledges often don’t result in real ones. This means that you often need to reach out to supporters time and time again, creating new ways of crafting the message. It turns out that this is an excellent exercise for understanding selling in the digital age! (And yes, I will be recommending it to mentees.)


3. Pursue a project in which you truly believe (that is also of interest to your audience).

Such dedication will give you the wherewithal to reach out to personal and professional contacts, putting aside the possibility of embarrassment. Thanks to your genuine belief in the project, you will successfully convert many people not only into becoming contributors, but being active advocates, too.

If I hadn’t received an astounding number of reports from blog readers over the past 2 ½ years, expressing how they’ve taken action and experienced success as a result of what they’ve learned from the weekly post, I wouldn’t be so determined to get the weekly edition into print. By making a book, many creative entrepreneurs who haven’t yet heard about Be Smart About Art will do so – and hopefully, many will benefit as a result. On balance, I’m prepared to sound like a broken record, banging on about supporting this important cause for micro business owners in the art world, because the impact is too important to not do it.


Final word:

What stops people from pursuing crowdfunding projects? Like many other things in life, a fear of failure is a common response. And in my own case, this isn’t my first try at it, but second. Since I don’t believe in ‘failure’, that first attempt at crowdfunding is what I consider to be an important learning exercise.

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THE CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN SUCCESSFULLY CLOSED ON 21ST JULY 2015. WE RAISED A TOTAL OF 8,072 GBP, BLASTING THROUGH THE INITIAL 'ALL OR NOTHING' AIM OF 7,500 GBP AS WELL AS THE 'STRETCH GOAL' OF 8,000 GBP.


VIEW THE CAMPAIGN PAGE (and get ideas for yourself!).


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