How to Raise Funds for Your Creative Project

A feature image for a blog post on fundraising in the arts sector.

If you’re a creative like, me than it isn’t hard for you to come up with many grand ideas for projects you wish to pursue. The ambition is always there, but the projects that are costly can quickly be derailed due to the lack of funds. Not everyone is able to rely on financing their projects with their own money and often they will have to find creative ways to raise money to achieve their goals.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to fund a few personal projects. The latest project was the first issue of Savant-Garde, a literary magazine started and run by Sheridan students. As a team, we were determined to pay our contributors for their work, and we wanted to pay close to the industry standard. This meant we needed to raise a fair bit of money. Most of our contributions came from our own pockets, a small candy gram fundraiser, and a very generous donor. Throughout the experience, there was a lot of trial and error and here is what I learned: 

Really Know Your Project and Budget

Before you can start asking others for money, you will have to be able to explain why you need it. If you don’t know the ins and outs of your project, then you have no business pitching your idea to them. You’ll fall flat and lose their interest. After that, it’ll be very hard to bring it back up to them once you’ve got it all figured out.

On top of this, come up with a realistic budget. People want to know where their money is going. This is why you want to know how much you need to accomplish your goal and how you’re going to use it.

Invest Your Own Money

Try bootstrap investing: it’s when you provide your personal project with your own funds. I’m not saying you need to fund your whole project yourself, but you should be putting in a decent amount of your own cash. This shows patrons that you’re serious. It can also encourage others to help. I’ve had possible investors match the amount I was willing to put in, and then suddenly a domino effect occurred and more were willing to do the same.

Set Small Goals

There is no such thing as free money. Raising funds is hard work and it won’t just happen if you don’t give it the time and energy it deserves. Understand that you won’t earn the amount you need right away, but mini-goals can encourage you to keep going. Plan and organize yourself with small achievable deadlines that keep you on track.

Leverage Your Network

Most of your initial outside funding or donations will come from your family and closest friends. They are the ones you are most likely to speak to initially and the first ones you’ll be pitch your idea to. If you can get them on board than it will be easier to get your audience and other potential investors interested. Plus, if your friends and family believe in you, they’ll be more than willing to spread the word to their networks too.

Your Friends Are Talented Too

Not everyone has the ability to create things with their hands, but those who do have a nice advantage. I’ve found that people like to buy unique crafty things: paintings, prints, buttons, keychains, t-shirts, cupcakes, you name it. And if you or any of your friends have the talent to make something that you can sell, I encourage you to do so. Just be aware of the margins and be smart with your own funds. If it’s going to cost you more to create something than what someone is willing to pay for it, than it might not be worth it. That being said, finding the right balance and being able to produce something that people want can bring in a decent amount of coin.

Choose the Best Option

Because every project is different and might have different needs, certain forms of fundraising will be more beneficial than others. Think about your project and the amount of funding you’re going to need and decide which form of fundraising is going to work best for you:

– Bootstrapping

– Crowdfunding: Kickstarter, Fundly, GoFundMe

– A bank loan or credit line

– Giving away equity/negotiating (think deals on the show Shark Tank)

Angel Investors/donations

Grants

– Auctions

– Bake sales

– Raffles and 50/50