Use these examples to rally your community in support of your creative work and livelihood.
Isolation is hard on everyone, but it’s been particularly challenging for those working in creative industries. Art of all kinds, from filmmaking to fry cooking, tends to involve a lot of physical getting together—and the sudden prohibition to do that is drying up all types of income streams. For creators who are struggling, now is the time to get creative with what you can offer and how you can ask your community for support.
Many artists are exploring how donations can help them stay afloat. Here on Kickstarter, we’re seeing strong support for folks who choose to launch creative projects as a compelling way to rally their community. A campaign can be a powerful, timely ask. Saying “Help me raise $5,000 in the next 30 days so I can finish this album and give you early access,” has a lot more immediacy and excitement than “Please give what you can.”
We’re also seeing artists and business owners getting experimental with what they can offer from isolation. For example, while the legendary Brooklyn metal and hardcore music space Saint Vitus can’t host shows, they’re using Kickstarter to pivot to livestreams, offer new merch, and host digital music lessons—and these reward offerings have already helped them to raise over $80,000.
Even though St. Vitus’ project is a relief fund to help them keep their venue, it clears Kickstarter rules that projects must develop creative work to share with their community. Plus, offering a variety of inventive digital rewards will help them see what their community responds to, which could help even beyond the project’s lifespan. If, say, the virtual drumming lessons are too complicated to coordinate, they can phase it out after delivering their rewards, but if fans love it, this test can show them the way to a new revenue stream to keep developing post-pandemic.
Of course, the challenge for many people is to figure out what types of quarantine-friendly projects and rewards to try. To highlight creators who are running campaigns as a way to stay connected and raise money right now, we’ve launched Inside Voices, an open call for small projects offering digital rewards. See how artists are getting inventive with what they can offer here, and if you feel up for it, we encourage you to launch a project of your own.
If you’re looking for ways to support yourself and make creative work right now, below are 70 industry-specific ideas for rewards you could offer through a Kickstarter project, and (in most cases) fulfill without leaving your home.
Creative fundraising ideas for artists:
- Zoom studio visits. Take fans on a tour, show them your process and materials, talk about what’s inspiring your current work.
- IGTV drawing lessons. Invite followers to tune in and practice still lifes, figure drawing, or scenes from your windows.
- Digital sketches. Invite backers to submit pictures of their pets, plants, favorite Netflix characters, or whatever else for you to sketch, scan, and send back to them.
- Custom Zoom backgrounds, like the ones Meow Wolf made.
- Research time. Focus on the research and development phase of your next project, and let backers know how they can support various elements of it.
- Reading list. Share a list of books, academic papers, news articles, etc. inspiring your work right now.
- Jams list. Share a playlist of what you’ve been listening to in the studio.
- Studio treasures. Get some spring cleaning done and offer up sketchbooks, notes, or other ephemera.
- Slow down. Quarantine upended your plans? Maybe it’s an opportunity to take a longer, slower look at your practice, like ceramicist instructor Jeni Hansen Gard did when her American study-abroad pupils were suddenly sent home from Italy. She completed the assignment she had prepared for them, giving herself time for a deep meditation on what home means.
Creative fundraising ideas for musicians:
- Custom playlists, like Pink Boot’s “oddly specific 13-song playlists” for backers’ mood of choice, like “songs to play when showering on days when you’re exasperated but don’t necessarily know why,” “songs to play when you’re clearly tired but have decided to fight the urge to sleep,” or “songs to play when you’re in the passenger seat for a long drive and you’re wearing sunglasses and pretending that this trip is the opening scene of an indie-movie.”
- A digital album of home demos. Inspiration: Shamir’s 2017 album Hope, a bedroom masterpiece made in 48 hours.
- Bonus tracks. Dig through your archives and offer exclusive access to unreleased tracks through SoundCloud.
- PDF zines. The history of your favorite band, tips for songwriters, favorite road recipes for van snacks on tour, show photos, etc. The world needs a new Maximumrocknroll!
- Request line. Host livestream performances on Instagram and take requests (or call your fans up one-on-one like Laura Jane Grace)
- Digital concert. Set up a collaborative performance with fellow musicians on Zoom and share invite-only links with backers.
- Studio time. Upgrade your personal studio to a public-facing venue for future lessons and session work, like Greg Fox is doing.
- Cat-scratch tracks. Score quarantine pet videos, like the legendary Brooklyn metal and hardcore music space Saint Vitus is doing as one reward for their campaign.
Creative fundraising ideas for performance and theater groups:
- Patchwork choreography commissions. Let backers each sponsor short segments of a dance sequence, like how Kim Lusk let backers each sponsor eight counts of choreography.
- Custom prerecorded message. For a birthday, anniversary, or voicemail greeting.
- Sneak peek. Share a digital copy of your script or a choice monologue selection.
- Custom monologues. Write custom monologues for common quarantine scenarios, favorite snacks, or sweatpants.
- The Actors Studio (Apartment). Livestream a table read of your play.
- Patron portrait. Sketch a maquette of backers’ living rooms.
Creative fundraising ideas for filmmakers:
- Digital access to your finished film. Don’t offer a “download” as it’ll be difficult for a traditional distributor to allow you to deliver that reward.
- Playlist created by the film’s composer or music supervisor.
- Your name in the credits.
- Download of original soundtrack like Last Black Man in San Francisco offered alongside access to the film and your name in the credits.
- A work-in-progress screening. Soliciting feedback from backers might surface some good ideas, too.
- Digital access to a supercut of outtakes, like Knock Down the House offered.
- Script consultation over Zoom.
- Meet the film’s cast or contributors. In person later, or over video chat now.
- Access to DVDs of past work and box sets. Hal Hartley often brings out his box sets and versions of his films with subtitles in new languages on Kickstarter.
- Restoration or digitizing of past work. Our friends at IndieCollect do this frequently, like with this archive of the early work of Todd Haynes and Christine Vachon.
- In special cases, an executive producer credit (for documentary crediting best practices, check out this guide from the Documentary Producers Alliance)
Creative fundraising ideas for writers, podcasters, and comics creators:
- Livestream poetry readings. BYO wine.
- Zoom book club. BYO cheese.
- Ebook bundles. Much easier for your book club to get a hold of than physical copies right now.
- Skype presentations, like what Country Queers offered along with their podcast.
- A digital essay collection, curated to speak to this moment in time.
- Scratchpad. Share outtakes from your creative process—notes from interviews, sketches, a series of rough drafts.
- Writing coach. Online one-on-one writing or editing consultation, like McSweeney’s offered in their 2015 campaign.
- Reading lists. Another great idea from McSweeney’s campaign: custom reading lists and personalized book recommendations.
- Newsletter subscription. That’s premium content!
- Printable coloring books. Book of Cultures began sharing kid-friendly activities daily in backer updates after they funded.
- Fan mail. Publish a backer’s piece, poem, or letter, like the Design Museum Magazine did.
- Tuckerizations. Name a character in a story after a backer.
- Personalized poetry ritual, like the personalized lineup F(r)iction offered on their campaign.
- Custom research briefs, like the 20-page reports on topics of backers’ choosing that New Modality offered.
- Cameo. Offer a guest spot on your podcast or draw someone into your comic
- Family feature. Offer to interview your whole family and cut a custom episode just for you.
- Bonus round. Put together a bonus podcast episode, like Lewis Wallace did for the View from Somewhere.
- Donate-a-Book Reward Tiers comic panels. Provide a book for someone who has lost income in addition to getting your own copy, like the creators of Firelight Isle.
Creative fundraising ideas for chefs and restaurants:
- Quarantine recipes. In the form of weekly meal-planning emails, odes to favorite pantry ingredients, or extra elaborate and lengthy preparations to help pass the time at home. See how Chicago restaurant Parachute did this with a campaign for a whole book all about making one beloved dish.
- Zines, featuring recipes, restaurant stories, staff profiles, advice columns, etc.
- Ingredient bundles. Repurpose some of your inventory to bring local backers as groceries.
- Restaurant upgrades. Fund a new to-go window, commission decor from local artisans, or paint a mural.
- Online cooking classes. Home cooks can tune in and follow along.
- Special dinners in the future. Our rules prohibit offering simple coupons and vouchers, but you can offer a creative dinner party backers can attend later.
Creative fundraising ideas for event organizers and venues:
- Dance classes. Put your space and equipment to (partial) use with a livestream.
- Viewing pleasure playlists. Customize essential watch lists of classic performances, movies, concert footage, etc.
- Space rentals. Let your community use their space for their own programming after shelter in place recommendations lift.
- Membership. Special access to your next year of programming.
- Virtual Gala. Plan livestreams of different entertainment and nominate community members to be campaign ambassadors, just like a table captain.
Creative fundraising ideas for game makers:
- Print-and-play games. Instant board game.
- 3D minis. You can even share patterns for foldable figurines to print out.
- RPG zines, like the ones creators make for our Zine Quest open call each year.
- Online play-testing. Give your backers and first look at your game—and get their help working out the kinks.
- Online play-through. Already finished your game? You can still put on a digital event to play it together.
- Director’s cut video games. Release a pack of some previous releases with short written commentary on how you conceptualized and made each one and how your creative process evolved over time.
- Livestreams. Studio tours through Twitch, or online classes for coding or art.