Does your business have a message about green building that’s worth sharing?
Is there a project you’d like to pursue but you don’t know how to fund it?
In this post I’m going to share my experience of crowdfunding a documentary on building better houses, how I realised it and why I know I will be repeating the process in the future.
While people rant and rave about climate change, and curl up into a ball because nothing can be done I always try to keep positive. In my mind there is a world of opportunity before us and it is increasingly weighted in favour of those willing to invest in what a sustainable future might look like.
Over the last couple of years blogging at House Planning Help I have met people who have come up with elements of this sustainable future, whether it be by creating an energy-efficient house, forming a cohousing group, being careful where their money gets spent or making other significant lifestyle changes such as refusing to fly! That’s why I feel – if we’re not afraid of action – we each have a role to play here. We need to strive for that vision of a sustainable future, in whatever context that means for us, and then share our experiences online.
Crowdfunding is an Important Tool
If you’re wondering how crowdfunding fits in here, it’s people: and we have passionate, passionate people. These people desperately want change even if they don’t know how to get it. I say forget about the big picture and concentrate on small, incremental changes which will add up over time.
As such, crowdfunding can be another tool in our armoury.
There are two elements to crowdfunding:
- Being part of the crowd (or a backer)
- Being a project creator
Both are as important as each other. The first takes little effort (or money for that matter) yet can be a huge help in making important projects happen.
The second demands that you put your dream in front of the crowd – for better or for worse. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Progress Over Perfection
If you’re new to crowdfunding, then the first thing to realise is that it’ll be a learning process. Luckily learning is fun!
What to Expect
- It’s probably going to take longer than you think
- It’s probably going to be more work than you think
- There will be highs and lows
- There will be a huge sense of achievement when you look back at the end
It Starts with an Idea
There are millions of things you could do, so picking one means you can’t do all those other ones. Obvious, I know. Choose wisely.
As someone who enjoys blogging and podcasting about energy-efficient homes, I was keen to sum up the main points I’d learnt in a 30-minute video documentary. It’s sounds simple enough when you say it out aloud; of course I hadn’t made a documentary before!
What I did have in my favour was that I’d made plenty of shorter videos over the years. I also felt the subject matter was important. Insulation takes the limelight when it comes thermal efficiency, despite the fact airtightness is even more important. So there was a clear point to communicate. And because this documentary was just going to be about the basics I wanted to leave the viewers in safe hands, which is why I was keen to promote the Passivhaus Standard (as a much more detailed approach of how to do this).
Choose a Crowdfunding Platform
As crowdfunding has developed so have the number of crowdfunding platforms (e.g. Kickstarter, Indiegogo, RocketHub, etc.). I went with Kickstarter because I felt they were the best known and that that might be an advantage.
I mentioned about the work earlier, well, as with any pitch you’re selling an idea. That means crafting text that details everything, finding images that align with your project, making a short video, and coming up with some tempting rewards.
Even when you’ve got all this together, don’t get trigger happy and publish! The work hasn’t finished just yet. Sorry.
Project Management is at the Heart of Crowdfunding
I am by no means an experienced project manager. If you are, then this is good news! Thorough pre-planning is the key to a successful campaign.
It is possible that whatever you are crowdfunding for is something that you haven’t done before. Perhaps you’re thinking big. Great. So not only have you got all the project management that goes with executing your campaign but then you have all the project management that goes with creating your widget, etc.
So you want to make sure that when you’ve hit publish, as much is mapped out as possible. How will you maintain interest during the campaign? Can you get local media interested in what you’re doing? Do you have any stretch goals ready if things go really well? Do you have a plan up your sleeve if interest wanes? Once you get funding can you really deliver on time? And so on.
The Joy of Putting Your Idea ‘Live’
The time to publish is when you’ve planned absolutely everything. In reality there’ll be loads you’ve forgotten, but you’ll have given yourself the best shot at this. The rest you can do along the way.
Your Backers are Likely to Share Your Passion
My project did get funded. Phew! What surprised me was how many of the backers I already knew. Perhaps I envisaged a far reaching appeal. Instead, the great and good of green building came to my aid.
They want to get the message out there as much as I do.
Unexpected Benefits May Emerge From Your Project
Perhaps one of the best parts of my journey was developing friendships with people, both in terms of connecting with backers and spending time with the documentary team.
It’s also unlocked the possibility for me to meet yet more people! I love public speaking but up until now there’s been no reason to do it as I’m neither an expert in construction or have built a house myself. Through making the documentary I have an experience which I can share with others (and I hope to continue doing this).
- Don’t start a crowdfunding project until you’ve built up a crowd! By this I mean that you have people to turn to. Crowdfunding won’t work otherwise. While this could be friends, family or work colleagues, in this day and age the best way is to build up a following in a niche.
- Start small. If you haven’t done this before, test the waters. You can always launch a bigger project another time when you are a well-oiled machine!
- While you can do this alone, it’ll be a lot easier if you’re part of a team.
- Try to launch with a bang. If you can get a good chunk of your funding in the first couple of days then your chances of succeeding increase significantly.
Realise the Potential of Where Crowdfunding is Going
Yes, many things could have been better. My project was delayed – not least by the arrival of my son! – but importantly I kept going and delivered my project.
And it’s made me think what more I could do with crowdfunding, particularly in terms of construction. What jumps out at me is to use it as a way to retrofit houses and carry out research . . . All this at the same time as making some interesting podcasts and videos along the way. That must be win win!
What’s your idea for a crowdfunding project?