The 3 Biggest Crowdfunding Misconceptions

Bri Castellini
5 min readFeb 6, 2024

Inevitably, when I’m doing a crowdfunding consultation, I get hit with this question: “what else don’t I know? What is your standard, high level crowdfunding advice?”

Since I’ve honed this answer over the past four years as a crowdfunding expert, I figured I should enshrine it in a single post. So here you are! The three biggest crowdfunding misconceptions.

Social media is king

I’ve had many many consultations where a filmmaker will brag about (or, if they’ve already run an unsuccessful campaign, bemoan) their social media following. Here’s the dirty secret: social media, especially in 2024, is near-useless for crowdfunding success. Between constant algorithm changes that mean even your own followers see maybe one in three posts, platforms getting bought out and their former posting and moderation tools falling apart, and the sheer volume of other things going on in everyone’s feeds, social media hasn’t been a valuable form of communication in a long time.

It’s even worse if you’re trying to fundraise.

In fact, there’s only a ~1% conversion rate for crowdfunding social media posts, whereas direct email (or text or phone call) converts between 20–30%. Conversion rate meaning that less than 1% of the audience who sees the post will actually convert into paying supporters.

I want to be so clear: when i say “direct email,” I don’t mean a mass BCC, and I don’t mean a beautifully designed newsletter. I mean a personalized, one on one email directed to a single recipient.

Is it more work? Slightly, if you don’t know how to use mail merge. Is it 200%+ more effective than posting on social media? Yes.

Email, or text or in-person, converts at a significantly higher rate because it goes directly to the source, it makes the source feel special and singled out, and it’s far harder to ignore a concrete, personalized plea for support than it is a generalized message that you scroll past alongside articles about genocides, election squabbling, advertisements for starry night lamps, and bad takes about The Oscars.

Think about it- you’re in a crowd during an emergency, and a woman calls out “someone call 911!” You’re in the crowd, sure, but your phone battery is a little low, and you’re on your way to something, and there’s just so many other people milling around. Someone else can easily call 911.

But what if the woman looks at you directly and says, “hey, you, call 911!” What are you gonna do, ignore her? Like a monster? The same is true for crowdfunding asks. It feels riskier and more vulnerable to ask people directly for their support, but as we’ve talked about before, that risk pays off far more often than a safer, more general ask does.

If email and direct outreach isn’t the priority in your outreach plan, you’re wasting your time, the time of your team, and the time of your potential audience.

If you build it, they will come

We’ve all heard the stories of the viral campaigns, like that potato salad campaign, or projects that suddenly collect a windfall of support due to a chance discovery by a rich and powerful patron. But just like you can’t ask your social media manager to design a “viral” post, planning for passive crowdfunding success just… isn’t a thing.

Crowdfunding is no longer the shiny new thing clever creatives are using to disrupt the system. It is the system. And while getting featured on the front page of your chosen platform, or being in their newsletter, can increase the traffic to your page a bit, it rarely significantly increases your financial potential. I know, because I worked for one of these platforms for over 4 years, and I have colleagues at the others.

95% of traffic to crowdfunding pages comes from direct links: as in, people are clicking to your unique campaign link, rather than using the search function on your chosen platform.

Your crowdfunding platform can’t meaningfully promote your campaign for the same reason social media marketing is less useful than email outreach: it’s too general. Who is the audience for a crowdfunding platform’s posts? I’ll tell you right now, it’s not funders. It’s other crowdfunders.

Rich guys don’t follow Kickstarter’s newsletter waiting with bated breath to bestow millions of dollars on an unknown, scrappy filmmaker. There are simply too many campaigns for that to be feasible or useful, and besides, at this point donors rely on essentially the opposite strategy to consider funding campaigns: if they’re tenacious enough, they’ll come to me.

Which is why you need to spend an equal amount of time building your outreach plan as you do your campaign page itself, prior to launch. If you build it, they won’t come… you have to invite them. Probably via email (see how this all connects?).

Crowdfunding isn’t creative

One of the primary aspects of my crowdfunding workshop is this: successful crowdfunding is far more about audience building than it is fundraising. If you cannot convince a potential audience member, whether they’re your mom or a total stranger, that this is a project worth making, you’re dead in the water before you’ve even begun.

As we talked about above, crowdfunding is everywhere. Simply having “a good idea” is no longer enough; the campaign itself needs to be imbued with just as much care and creativity as the project it’s designed to fund. So how do you stand out?

Stop resenting crowdfunding as a process, and start embracing it.

Treat this like a creative exercise, because the ultimate goal with all this is not just to fund production, right? It’s also to get viewers for the eventual product, and the best way to do that is make the campaign itself a marketing-focused one. You’re a talented storyteller, so tell us a story, and use this crowdfunding campaign as an opportunity to get more people invested (in more ways than one!).

That means don’t just offer generic incentives, a pitch video of an 8 minute talking head, and corporate-sounding campaign updates. Make this fun, for yourself and your audience. It shouldn’t be a surprise when it stops being quick the slog, and starts picking up momentum.

Bri Castellini is an independent filmmaker, an aspiring romance author, and, regrettably, a podcaster. She’s known for the 2017 short film Ace and Anxious (writer/director, 160k+ views on YouTube) and for her podcasts Burn, Noticed and Breaking Out of Breaking In, covering the USA television show Burn Notice and practical filmmaking advice, respectively. She can lick her elbow (not clickbait). Full work history and ways to hire her as a consultant can be found on her website



Bri Castellini

Freelance indie film and crowdfunding consultant. Writer of mystery TV and romance novels. Human bulldozer.