The Frozen Goose Film Project: A Few DOs and DON'Ts of Crowdfunding

I've learned a few things that might be useful to others thinking of using this means as a way to raise funds for a passion project.

By Margaret Lindsay Holton
Published September 10, 2015

As some of you know, I recently launched an Indiegogo campaign in support of a new film project, The Frozen Goose, that I'm involved with as writer, director and producer.

The Frozen Goose film project campaign
The Frozen Goose film project [campaign](

The campaign runs from September 1 to October 5. During that time frame, I've basically got one month to achieve my fund-raising goal. So far, I've raised 8 percent of what I need, with 26 days to go. Can I make it? I honestly don't know. According to Indiegogo guidelines, I'm in the running, but there is still a long way to go.

So far, I've learned a few things that might be useful to others thinking of using this means as a way to raise funds for a passion project.

1. DO NOT attempt to do this on your own. The time requirements to keep on top of the campaign will eat into your life in ways you can't even begin to imagine. I made a mistake here and am trying to manage all of it on my own. If I had the choice, I would not do that again, but live and learn.

2. DO lots of prep. Organize your message, your mailing list, and the perks that you are offering to contributors so that there is broad yet specific appeal. Be very prepared before you launch your campaign. I cannot stress this enough. It shows immediately in your campaign if you're just a fly-by-night or a legit outfit with a legitimate proposition. I even went one step further here and did some pre-prep for the Indiegogo campaign itself, with a few teaser trailers announcing the upcoming campaign in targeted groups on Facebook. This has been very well received with over 200 views before I got started.

Promotional Teaser for Indiegogo campaign, released three weeks prior to launch

3. DO NOT believe for one second that the campaign will run itself once you go live. Constant monitoring, fulfillment, and contact with contributors is critical for an even middling successful campaign. Stay focused and in touch with all aspects of promotion on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. (I don't have an Instagram account so that's off-radar on this particular campaign.)

4. DO consider the options of partnering with established crowdfunding supporters. I was very generously offered this option by a local film production house, Crafthaus Inc., and turned it down. I naively thought I could do this on my own. Well, guess what, I'm learning and I've realized I may not make it. My mistake. I will learn from that decision - and live with it.

5. DO NOT fritz around with the perks that you are offering contributors once those perks have been established. Not only will potential contributors get confused if they are looking back over what you're offering, but you will get completely bewildered as contributors start rolling in. It's tough enough as it is to keep the perks offered straight within your mind so do not confuse the mix with alternates.

6. DO provide incentives that people might actually want. I realized after I launched that a few of my perks are not beefy enough, especially for low-tier contributors. But - and very important - balance what you do offer contributors with what you can realistically manage to fulfill. Having one hundred people come in on a perk that you then have to sort, mail and pay for is a nightmare waiting to happen. You do not want to do this unless you've got a team of at least three able-bodied persons willing to help with the organization of fulfillment and distribution.

The Frozen Goose cast includes stellar local talents, Leslie Gray, Rod McTaggart, John Fort, Evan Cook and starlet, Hannah Ralph.
The Frozen Goose cast includes stellar local talents, Leslie Gray, Rod McTaggart, John Fort, Evan Cook and starlet, Hannah Ralph.

7. DO provide video, photos and a short yet detailed commentary of your campaign objectives. A few crowdfunding campaigns think they can get away with no action' shots. No, you can not. People want to see what you're offering rather than read it. The headline video gives you an opportunity to entice potential contributors within the first 30 seconds of viewing your pitch. If you can't secure their interest with that, you'll never get airborne.

I have learned, since September 1, that my pitch is good, but perhaps not quite good enough. I've had a much higher ratio of visitors to my Indiegogo campaign site than contributors. That's understandable and natural, but keep an eye on those numbers. I'd say that if you can't get one out of ten viewers to commit, you are doing something wrong with your video pitch. Consider mine: what are its strengths? Its weaknesses? What would work for you? Tell me. Always be willing to learn.

8. DO NOT discuss your campaign with others who, at core, are not at all interested in whether your campaign succeeds or fails. Know that there will always be those who are fundamentally too afraid to try it for themselves, and will, somewhat perversely, delight when your campaign fails to meet its mark. Always keep in mind that you are trying. That takes guts. You may fail. You may succeed. One thing for sure, you'll never know until you try. You are to be commended for that alone. So, good on you!

9. DO remain positive about what is and is not happening with your efforts. Learn from whatever is going on. Not enough interest? Tweak it. Refine as you go along, and listen acutely to what social media is saying (or not) about your campaign. Retweet, repost, circulate the positive and negate the negative. Keep at it. Stick with it, good or bad, to the very end.

#TheFrozenGoose perks include Museum of Burlington day passes, Canadian Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Kits as well as film support magnets and floating key chains
#TheFrozenGoose perks include Museum of Burlington day passes, Canadian Red Cross Emergency Preparedness Kits as well as film support magnets and floating key chains

10. DO NOT get discouraged. Not every campaign is going to fly. Not everyone is as much of a visionary as you. Live with it and continue on. Be very grateful for those who do get it and give and continue on.

11. DO follow up with each and every contributor with a personal note, not a formulaic thank-you. This smell-test reveals very quickly those who are just pumping for funds from those who have a passion project that they really need your help with.

Your note reveals a great deal about you as a person and as a member of a larger community. Yes, it takes time, but try not to skimp here on your message. Be polite, honest, grateful and upbeat. Thank them, genuinely, for helping you, regardless of the size of their contribution, from the smallest to the biggest. These small things add up. If you do this part right, that one short sweet note can lead to another referral or commitment, putting you one step closer to your campaign goal.

Overall, just remember: you are approaching people, not corporations. People are people, with acute likes and dislikes, personal quirks and motivations. Respect that.

Above all, carry on - accept constructive criticism and continue to ask for help. What would or could be done better? Consider again my currently 'live' campaign for #TheFrozenGoose as the prototype for what you should and should not do. Consider if it works for you - would you donate? If so, why? If not, why not?

And finally, for those who have been around the mulberry bush more then once, what has worked - or did not work - with your crowdfunding efforts? Please share in the comments below so that we can all learn. Thank you.

A mid-career Golden Horseshoe artist and author, Lindsay is available for commissions and assignments via 'mlhpro' at 'hotmail' dot 'com'. See samples at


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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:07:49

This is great advice.

Some famous Hamilton crowdfunding history:

Our first crowdfunded reporter, Joey Coleman ran and raised funds through IndieGoGo for almost 3 consecutive years. For a while, Joey had a series of mostly successful indiegogo fundraisers:

Until he fell severely short twice consecutively;

After this, he had to discontinue ThePublicRecord when he ran out of funds to fully focus on this endeavour.

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 19:03:03 in reply to Comment 113806

Just a note that I stopped the June campaign when it became apparent that I had lost a large amount of support due to the accusations of criminal activity (eavesdropping and hacking) made by City Council in the Basse Report.

As the June campaign was a "flexible" campaign, I did not want to end up with people's money and not be able to deliver the service.

Many past supporters - especially current City staff - expressed concerns to me seeking a guarantee that I could protect their identities as anonymous contributors if I was forced to reveal my contributors in any court case related to Council's accusations.

Sadly, the chilling effect of Council's accusations, the revoking of my media credential, and the burden of time lost to legal matters is what sunk my work.

The lesson I learned from the failed campaigns was that campaigns during summer and Christmas are unlikely to succeed because people are busy with other matters. There are no Council meetings. The December 2014 campaign came during a time when people are busy, they are spending on gifts, and many people had made contributions to political campaigns so disposal funds were low.

The March 2015 campaign was already at 60% prior to Council's making its criminal accusations against me.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 21:02:13 in reply to Comment 113833

Thanks for the background information!

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 09:10:14 in reply to Comment 113833

Thanks for that insight Joey.

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:20:05 in reply to Comment 113806

Interesting. One has to ask why people lost the appetite to continue funding him. No question Joey was (and is) an invaluable resource for insightful Hamilton news, BUT, perhaps the lesson learned here is that he after three years he should have figured out an alternate way to fund it. He could have registered as a 'non-profit', gone after different sources of capital, like the Hamilton Community Foundation ...

I also noticed with another crowdfunding campaigner that they made the mistake of appealing for funds far too soon after the success of their first campaign. They did not succeed. Moral? - You can only go to the well so many times before the well runs dry ...

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By JoeyColeman (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 19:07:59 in reply to Comment 113808

In terms of registering as a non-profit, journalism is hard to register as such. In terms of funding from grants or the Community Foundation; there are not HCF funds that my work would qualify for, and there are no journalism grants that I would qualify for that allows for the kind of coverage I provide.

I was pivoting my business model in February 2015 before Council launched its full legal offensive with the Basse Report and the subsequent revoking of my media credential, removal of the Internet connection I used on media row in Council Chamber, and removal of The Public Record from the media room.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:10:33

Here's another Hamilton IndieGoGo fundraiser going on right now.

IndieGoGO: Hamilton Tool Library - Currently 15% funded with 7 days to go. I sent a contribution. They already operate, but needs more funds to do things like fix broken tools. It's a library of tools you can borrow for free (with an annual membership fee). Even hedge trimmers and lawn mowers!

I'd highly recommend sending at least a few bucks to this one. Their website is

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 12:22:11 in reply to Comment 113807

Agree. This is a worthy campaign. And a great addition to the downtown core.

And what about The Frozen Goose film project? Would you support this endeavour? If so, when and why? - How is it working for you? And if not, why not? What's 'missing'? Love to learn. :)

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 13:57:29 in reply to Comment 113809

Take it easy on the questions :)

I'm convinced to support this one as well. There's so much charitable endeavours in today's turbulent world and it's all lost in the noise; I didn't know about it till today.

The scheduling of IndieGoGo contributions (whether as an Anonymous or a named individual) is currently a top-secret recipie involving a complex formula involving the finite speed of light involved behind a bank cashing a paycheque and bill payments, combined with the success of a Rube Goldberg machine built with Hamilton Tool Library tools, plus some magic pixie dust (LOL). But it is coming. Keep an eye out.

I notice you have several big donors ($100 size donations), and not very many micro-transactions -- this suggests you're recruiting close relatives, friends, and other specific individuals who you think has money such as veterans who wants to send money to a charitable effort. I would not be able to match those sizes of donations at this time (e.g. $500), but more closer to the one who contributed $35 (the smallest one). Many Hamiltonians would struggle to donate even just that much, so your donor target audience will be a big thing to focus on.

You either need to expend effort chasing after people like retiring veterans who will probably be bequeathing money anyway to things like these outside of the city -- or you need to expend effort on making wider campaign to average Hamiltonians that can only send a few dollars. Which one is less effort for you, I'm not really sure, but either method has worked for various different IndieGoGo campaigns for various different reasons.

You also need a plan for covering any funding shortfalls, so that your reputation does not get damaged. There comes a point where the costs of an incomplete campaign (e.g. 15% funded) becomes risky. When no further second-stage funding is possible (e.g. starting a new second-stage campaign, or another source), one needs to decide whether to press the button to refund everybody if the reputation costs of continuing (With all the perks needed) exceed the reputation costs of simply cancelling and refunding everyone. You may already do and not have publicly announced, but it's certainly a consideration for any "Flexible Funding" campaigns. Occasionally, for this reason, "Fixed Funding" campaigns succeed better since full funding often lower risks, but with a big catch -- you get no money if your campaign isn't complete.

Another observation is that whenever a campaign exceeds ~50%, the funds often come in at a much faster pace in a far more auto-pilot manner than at the first 50%. It becomes extremely important to reach the 50% goal as early as you're able to. The threshold varies from campaign to campaign, but incoming funding often does accelerate beyond 80%, including previous $500 donors doubling their pledges to $1000 at the very last minute when they see they're needed to "push it to the end". If your funding has currently stalled, a strategy change is important (e.g. changing recruitment tactics).

I don't have much good advice. For Supercrawl, make some business cards or phamplet containing a short URL that leads to your campaign. (IndieGoGo also provide shorturls if you don't have your own website). I'm not 100% sure if this is an effective target audience, being a young audience with less relations, but it can't hurt to be prepared with some quick-print business cards (With a clear appeal like "DONATE" or "Now Crowdfunding -- Contribute by Sept 30!") or whatever. Also study crowdfund resources like (there's lots of websites aimed to teach people how to crowdfund)

Also, are you a frequent poster of any indie artist forums? What are their rules linking to a campaign? Do you have a website, and any SEO (search engine optimization) skills? Do you tweet, Facebook, of anything? A popular retweet or a minor viral video that's re-shared by many, can bring publicity. But this, however, might not be applicable to a smaller effort such as this --

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-10 14:07:40

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 14:23:20 in reply to Comment 113811

opps, see below comment ...

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 14:22:49

Thanks. Look forward to your contribution, no matter the size.

In answer - yes, I am aware that, currently, I have several large donations. Half are a result of a preliminary letter sent to family & friends before the campaign went live. So, yes, they KNOW me, and are 'investing'. The balance are a result of the campaign itself, which is very heartening to see. I also have 'targeted' a very specific audience that are interested in Canadian film production. I KNOW they are 'watching' and, like you, a few have said funds are coming ... As for the lower tier donations, I have identified that as possible problem area, but, for now, am holding off on re-tweaking that until Day 20 in the campaign. I might not do it. I have to SEE where I'm at 10 days from now.

As for being a poster on indie sites ... ? I am ALL OVER the net doing and engaging with a number of different sites/interests. Sometimes I'm 'active', sometimes I'm 'observant', and sometimes I get sick of a site and drop it.

The website for the film can be found here - . For particulars about me and my background in film and art - go here:, or just google me (Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Facebook). And yes, I tweet - see @TheFrozenGoose or @Canadada.

In conclusion, I am not 'viral', and don't really think that's of any importance here. I am not 'famous' and dont really seek that kind of trivial infamy. Rather, I am a 'story-teller', a writer of some skill, an award-winning mid-career self-taught Canadian artist.

OK? - And my blood type is 'O'. :)

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 17:22:56 in reply to Comment 113813

As for being a poster on indie sites ... ? I am ALL OVER the net doing and engaging with a number of different sites/interests. Sometimes I'm 'active', sometimes I'm 'observant', and sometimes I get sick of a site and drop it.

Tip: Modify your signature line on all your relevant forums, through the "User Control Panel" or "My Profile" (or whatever your forum calls it).

That instantly retroactively updates all your old forum posts to contain a hyperlink to your campaign. However, be warned direct links to IndieGoGo might not be allowed, but they might allow you to link you to a main website (e.g. the film's main website) or twitter account. Double check the rules on a per-forum basis. From there, people can discover the IndieGoGo.

It sometimes works. See below automatically-attached signature line of this post. (e.g. I've gained a number of Twitter followers from RTH). Usually, on most sites, the signature line retroactively changes when edited in your profile. Carefully and tastefully done within the forum rules, that can instantly add thousands of links to your IndieGoGo, if you have thousands of posts on some forums.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-10 17:27:35

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 09:20:00 in reply to Comment 113830

Thanks. I'll consider this. I think it relevant to set that up here. You can now go directly to the campaign by clicking on my commentators website link above.

Otherwise, I dont think it advisable to post to a 'fundraiser' link on other forums or postings. It starts coming across as too needy, as well as a pain in the butt. Plus, there is the added agra of having to keep track of WHERE you've changed your website link. The net is a big place ... This is my opinion. Might work for others.

Comment edited by Missy2013 on 2015-09-11 09:34:45

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 20:59:59 in reply to Comment 113837

This be true, but you can also link to your general website, or your business, which can then link onwards to the IndieGoGo. So you're not necessarily directly advertising.

For example.

My arts business -

And then on your homepage, you have a banner somewhere, showing your IndieGoGo.

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By osborne (registered) | Posted September 10, 2015 at 16:35:00

Thank you for writing this article. Will you write a second article after the campaign if you learn more?

Thanks to mdrejhon with the specific project breakdowns in Hamilton. Good to read that getting you crowd funding past the mid way point that donations speed up. I know that crowd funding has been suggested as a way to pay for an artists exhibition etc. on the Hamilton Arts Council Visual Arts Committee guidelines for emerging artists.

I have heard that there are a couple of possible approaches to crowd funding. One is that if you do not make your funding goal that no money is taken. The second is to pay a higher fee and you keep all the funds. What have people learned about the two approaches?

I have never created a crowd funding. A few years back, I was a participant in a crowd funded project in Toronto. I was not involved in the actual campaign but I was told that half the money came in within a few days of the end of the crowd funding. Good luck with your fund raising!

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 09:18:21 in reply to Comment 113829

I may. I have already received invaluable feedback in private from people who are interested to see my campaign succeed. Their 'tips' and suggestions have provided that impartial input that I was needing. As a result,I will be doing a short tweaking to the campaign shortly.

Indiegogo has changed the 'terms' of how they release funds for fixed and flexible campaigns. It's now a basic non-refundable 5% fee, on either approach, with additional charges accumulating for banking handling fees that vary from PayPal to Credit cards. GoFundMe, Fundrazer and Kickstarter have different terms. Research for the service that best suits your project. Keep two things in mind, your capacity to 'work' "code" (meaning, you may want to add components not included in their 'basic package'), and how user friendly it is for people coming aboard. Best advice, keep it 'clean' & 'simple'.

Monies are released to the campaign owner 15 days (max) after the campaign ends. In one lump sum. This makes sense as it keeps 'processing fees' to a minimum.

Comment edited by Missy2013 on 2015-09-11 09:35:58

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted September 10, 2015 at 17:25:00 in reply to Comment 113829

Yes, the midpoint. Sometimes it's a bit lower than that (e.g. speedups occur at nearer 33%-40%) and sometimes it's higher (e.g. speedups occur at nearer 80%), but it's a long known crowdfunding observation. Depends on project, time left, momentum, etc.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2015-09-10 17:29:04

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2015 at 12:29:41

... Where there is a Will, there is a Way.

If the 'crowdfunding' approach isn't working for you, or if you're just not quite ready to 'leap' into the whole crowdfunding experience, or if you or your potential contributors are nervous about 'on-line' financing - just try another fundraising tactic for your passion project, like this -

The important thing is to keep at it. You'll get there.

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted September 28, 2015 at 10:21:57

Thanks be to Robert Missen, Ontario-based performing arts impresario, for his very generous donation to The Frozen Goose film project. We are in the final week of the Indiegogo campaign now. On that site it would appear we are nowhere near our end target, but thanks to many 'outside' donors like Bob, I am very pleased to announce that our budget is now only $2000 short of a full-on 'start-up'. If any of you have been considering helping out, but have been waiting for the 'numbers-to-show' on the Indiegogo site, please do consider a contribution now. Anything upward of $15 will be accepted on the Indiegogo site. OR, please do send in your donation directly, no matter how great or small, to 'MLH Productions' at '17 Main Street, P.O. Box 1425, Waterdown, Ontario, L0R 2H0' by weeks end. Thanks to all who have helped in the funding of this #Canadian classic indie film production thus far. With much gratitude from the Director, Margaret Lindsay Holton. -

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By Missy2013 (registered) - website | Posted May 05, 2017 at 07:43:42

Great to see Joey Coleman is fundraising again. He's achieved 192% of requested funds ~ with still eight days to go!

Check it out, maybe pick up a few tips there too ~

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