My Kickstarter Campaign

My Kickstarter Campaign

Date Posted: 
2011-08-08 16:07

Blog Series:

$15,0000.  That was the magic number I had come up with. My documentary, “LaDonna Harris: Indian 101” had come to a complete halt when my funds dried up and I needed to get it finished.  I estimated that I need $50k to deliver the final cut to submit to public television, but it seemed impossible to try to raise that amount in 30 days, so I decided to go for a more reasonable $15k. I saw the success my other filmmaker friends had with their fundraising campaigns on and thought I’d go for it. Here’s how it all went down…

The Sundance Institute arranged a small introduction “class” on how to launch your fundraising campaign and Kickstarter’s founder, Yancey Strickler, came to Los Angeles to give us pointers. I was already familiar with Kickstarter as I had donated to my friend’s projects and knew how it all worked. But familiarity didn’t rid me of the anxiety of meeting my goal. The catch is this – if you don’t meet your goal by the time your campaign ends in 30 days, you won’t see a dime of what you had raised.  Meaning, if I only raised $12k, my donor’s cards would not be charged at the end of the run and I’d get zero. Hence, the anxiety.

First things first, I started looking for help. I contacted my former colleague and friend, marketing and publicity maven, Lisa Y. Garibay and asked her for help. I didn’t have much to offer money-wise, but she was passionate about my subject matter.  Lisa quickly drafted up a list of national and international organizations and we discussed a strategy. We worked closely with LaDonna’s organization, Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO) and started compiling our lists for mass email blasts.

We created a Facebook page for the film and begged all my contacts to “Like” the page and started posting updates leading up to the kickoff on June 7, 2011. NAPT offered to create an HTML email blast to send to it’s constituents and I started looking for people I knew that would be interested in becoming the “hero donator” in case I didn’t meet my goal. This “hero” would come in at the last minute with whatever I needed to close the gap.

Next, Lisa drafted our mass email to go to my and AIO’s contacts. We went to about 10 different organizations aligned with AIO with large constituents and asked them to create their own individual blasts to make it personalized. We also got a moment to announce the campaign on Native America Calling and asked friends and colleagues to blog about it.

By the half-way point, we had raised half of the funds which helped to release my anxiety a bit… it wasn’t climbing like I had hoped, so then I went to friends, family and colleagues individually via email and Facebook during the last week and it just jumped! We had met our goal with 4 days to go! No need for the “hero donator”.  I ended up raising $19,147 with a total of 253 donors on Kickstarter. In addition, many people didn’t want to pay online, so checks were sent to AIO for which I raised another $10k (approx.).

Below are some basic stats from the campaign.

It was a nail-biter for a month, but I was in tears towards the end when I realized the incredible generosity of people from all over the world. It was a testament to LaDonna and her supporters. People truly want to see this film and I’m excited to get back to work on it.

Ura (Thank you).

Julianna Brannum

- Organizations contacted (nonprofits, academic, native/Indigenous, and media-oriented): 57, located all over the world.

- Media outlets contacted: 42 (all over the world but mostly U.S.; each one was sent 3 press releases at different points during the campaign; all received follow-up calls & emails on a weekly basis before, during and right before the end of the campaign).

- Individuals directly pitched to via email:

 - 3009 from AIO

- 1052 from Naru Mui Films

 Online channels used to promote the campaign:

- Facebook

- Twitter (using the hashtags #LaDonnaHarris & #Indian101)

- Kickstarter

- Sundance Institute

- "LaDonna Harris: Indian 101" website

Publicity received: Ms. Magazine Blog, Native America Calling,, Sundance Institute Website, Native American Resources Website,, Native Campaigns Website.

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