Crowdfunding with PleaseFund.Us

We recently had an audience with Ben Hamilton, community manager at PleaseFund.Us (PFU), who gave us a potted history of crowdfunding, along with a helpful rundown of the kind of things you may need to know:  the who, what, where, when and why?

The system of crowdfunding has really gathered speed in recent years as a result of factors such as the booming use of the internet and cuts in traditional funding methods. UK-based PleaseFund.Us is a relatively small platform, but can have anything between 10 and 300 projects live at any one time. Launched around eighteen months ago, the company adopts a very personal approach: they have a team of community managers offering advice ‘in the field’ and at the end of a phone.

Theirs is the reward-based, all or nothing model; that is to say, no investors will spend any money unless/until the campaign has been successful with targets reached. Rewards such as signed DVDs, premiere screening invitations and credits as associate producer, will be pledged in the process.  And one successful documentary filmmaker, raising money for his film about sharks, even offered an ‘experience in a shark diving cage’.  PFU’s average size project is around £5,000 although the shark enthusiast‘s pot was closer to £20,000.

PFU provide regular grants too, they currently have a short film fund available, which could offer up to £500 for a particular project. The team are also opening up to charitable projects, and building partnerships with outfits such as Loco London and the BFI.

Changes are afoot at PleaseFund.Us (PFU): although those raising the funds would need a UK bank account, the company is currently moving forward with a system to accept payments in multiple currencies, making it a truly international platform for donors.  

They currently receive GBP by PayPal and GoCardless. The average pledge at PFU is around £64, but don’t be afraid to ask for more, as long as your pledges can mirror the request. Similarly, smaller amounts can often be more easily achieved, somewhere between £20 and £40 is a popular range. Money is taken only when the campaign successfully reached launch, ie reached its target amount by the closing date.

Campaigns vary hugely in both the length of time they run and the target amount declared. PFU have a limit of 55 days running time; if the project hits target before then, it continues regardless until the deadline, hopefully gathering more and more money.

The company takes a 5% fee if a target is reached, although taking into account factors such as PayPal fees, this could rise to 7-8%. Fundraisers should also consider financial commitments such as the postage and packing involved in sending out rewards. These are all things to be considered when setting deadlines and target amounts.
Below we highlight some key points, as suggested by Ben Hamilton, community manager at PleaseFund.Us.

What Makes a Good Project?

There are no hard and fast rules. Some hopeless-seeming projects have raised thousands, and vice versa.  
Try and produce a compelling video pitch, and give a face to your campaign. People will trust you more if they see the person involved.

Make your pledges creative, try to think of original, creative rewards. They don’t necessarily need to be expensive, just stand out from the crowd.

Be passionate! Have a good story and make it as appealing as possible.

Show some examples of your work.

Leave people wanting more.

Promoting Your Project

Build excitement in advance of filming, try to create a groundswell of anticipation.

‘Harvest’ your emails – this will build your fanbase before launching your campaign.

Contact press, bloggers, celebrity tweeters etc.  Social media is essential; target your audience carefully. Who can add value to your project?

Keep the momentum going. Day-to-day promotion is vital in keeping your project in the public eye. Remember the middle stages of the campaign, where things could fall naturally quiet.  Create a debate – don’t be afraid to be controversial.

Don’t release all your juicy information in one hit, let it out in bite size pieces. For example, publish news of a casting one day, then a confirmed location a week later.

And finally, remember: With a crowdfunded project, you have a guaranteed audience all desperately keen to see the final product. And you won’t need to compromise your creative input to appease financiers etc in the process. What are you waiting for? Your film could be the next Veronica Mars.

If you’d like to find out more about other crowdfunding platforms, please click here.