How to Drive the Crowd to Fund You

Photo Source: Kickstarter

Crowdfunding is quickly becoming the number one way for indie films to score the monetary resources needed to get a movie made. Success stories like Zach Braff’s Sundance select “Wish I Was Here” and the feature film adaptation of the popular television series “Veronica Mars” raised just over $3 million and $5.7 million, respectively. What was their secret?

The Georgia Institute of Technology might’ve figured it out. They recently did a study that spanned 45,000 online fundraising campaigns to determine a phrasing formula for successful fundraisers, and shed some light on why other campaigns might have flopped.

Offering gifts may jumpstart success, but it’s all about how you word your reward proposition that makes the difference. Phrases like “project will be,” “has pledged,” and “also receive two” were linked with projects that met their goals, while “trusting” and “not been able” were attached to those that failed.

Properly pitching your idea is also a huge driver. Successful language typically falls into these categories

  • Reciprocity: returning the favor with gifts or “good karma and…”—a phrase linked to positive feedback.

  • Scarcity: labeling your gifts a rare commodity with phrases like “given the chance” and “option is.”

  • Social Proof: playing on people’s dependence to social cues with phrases like “has pledged.”

  • Social Identity: making people feel like they’re part of the team with things like “to build this.”

  • Authority: assertion of your power and ability to make quick decisions with phrases like “project will be” and “we can afford.

“Our research revealed that the phrases used in successful Kickstarter campaigns exhibited general persuasion principles,” Eric Gilbert, an assistant professor at Georgia Tech, said in a statement. “Those campaigns that follow the concept of reciprocity—that is, offer a gift in return for a pledge—and the perceptions of social participation and authority, generated the greatest amount of funding.”

The full extent of the team’s dictionary of 100 successful phrases will be revealed at the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in Baltimore, Maryland, Feb. 15-19.