5 Unexpected Emotions from Running a Crowdfunding Campaign

Gratitude is the first and primary emotion of any crowdfunding campaign and having joined the ranks of successfully crowdfunded projects, I must first say “thank you” to all of our supporters and contributors. Thanks to the contributions of 45 individuals, 42 of whom I know very well, Vector Art Ensemble will be able to produce the original work The Video Game Monologues in San Francisco and New York City this Fall.

While gratitude was the predominant feeling through our Indiegogo Campaign, here are five other emotions that came upon me unexpectedly during the process.

Doubt

When I began building the campaign I rallied the troops and circled the wagons, making sure everything was perfect (or would be eventually). When I launched, I learned quickly it was to the sound of ten thousand other drummers beating the same drum I was- asking for an ear. I’ve successfully produced dozens of projects, but this was the first one where I actually asked for help- and it was in that request where the egg of doubt hatched.

There was a week where the needle didn’t move and I felt questions arising in myself toward this project to which I had dedicated all of my energy and resources. In my strongest moments, I held on to the subtle differences of how my project answered a question, solved a problem. But I saw how each project does that in its own way. By the next contribution the doubt dissipated, but that week of silence reminded me that doubt can always find ways to seep in.

Guilt

Liberal, socially-conscious artist that I am, I’ve done a lot of free work for the progressive causes. Lots of free labor, advice, artwork has gone to furthering leftist agendas. As such, I was saddened the moment I realized how many people I could feed with the $5000 budget I was requesting, and was unnerved by the guilt I felt by it.

The truth was that even meeting my funding goal still only covered about 75% of the incidental costs of producing a show in two major cities, while also leaving me unpaid for 4 months of work. But that money could pay for HIV tests, buy warm socks and hats for homeless people, pay for an afterschool program or some new computers for a school. Not surprisingly, Guilt and Doubt made for a nice pairing.

Thrill

It was a high. Every time I saw a “New contribution to ‘The Video Game Monologues’” in my inbox I felt a jolt of pure excitement. It was like unwrapping a gift every time, or like opening up Russian nesting dolls- seeing the contributor, how much they gave, what perk they chose, and what message they left.  Seeing that health bar of contributions getting more and more full was akin to getting really, really good news, like getting a promotion or finding something you thought you lost. And with every contribution, big or small, the thrill would overtake me for a moment, swelling up inside me Charlie Bucket-style, as he found the Golden Ticket.

Disappointment

Amazingly, contributions came from generous people who had recently lost jobs, who were expecting babies, who were getting married, who were starting their own companies, who were in grad school. Contributions ranged from $3 to $500 and every dollar meant something to me. A note from one friend who gave just $10 brought me to tears with the support and love it showed, and several friends came forward with artistic contributions in lieu of monetary support.

However, these contributions shined a bright light on those who stayed silent during the campaign. Some of those who did not contribute were people whom I’d sunken hours and hours of support into as a friend or mentor, or to whom I had given game-changing advice for their own endeavors. Several friends with the most disposable incomes stayed silent as well. It feels wrong to be disappointed by anything when surrounded by so much generosity, but if I am honest with myself, I was deeply saddened and in some cases, hurt by some of the people who ignored the project.

Elation

Genuine elation, like a giggling baby playing peekaboo, came upon me when seeing the people who contributed to the project. 43 out of 45 funders were friends or family (with strangers contributing only $13 to the campaign). And out of my past they came: mysterious creatures from whom I had heard very little in years came shimmying back into my life with glints in their eyes and smirks on their lips. One woman told me, “I realized how many times since we met that you’ve inspired me, most of the time without even knowing it.  Making a contribution was just a small way to say thank you.”

There were coworkers from jobs I’d left long behind but thought of often, college companions I missed, a high school frienemy I fought with constantly, former professors, team members from failed projects, and people I love with all my heart. There were art lovers, tech lovers, entrepreneurs, academics, blue collars, white collars, Republicans and Democrats, teachers and students.  If the contributors to this campaign could come together at a cocktail party, it would likely be the best party of my life.

But it all comes back to Gratitude

Thank you to the 45 people who contributed financially and to the handful of people who have contributed in non-monetary ways. Hardworking people with dreams as strong as mine have given me a piece of their hard work. It is a challenge to fully express my gratitude but let it begin here as we create something from nothing, together.

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