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How to Raise a Billion Dollars

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More than a billion dollars has been raised on Kickstarter since the platform was founded in 2009. Hundreds of millions have been raised on IndieGoGo, Razoo, Rockethub and GoFundMe.

A billion dollars plus is a lot of money. Would you like some?

You're going to need a video. There are no two ways about it. Crowdfunding campaigns with a video are more successful than those without. In an email interview with me, Danae Ringelmann, founder of IndieGoGo, wrote,

People want to fund people, not just ideas, so it's important for campaign owners to tell people why their project is important and about the impact that it will make on the world. A video is a great way to do this and on average, campaigns with videos raise 114% more money than those without them.

People want to fund people, not just ideas.

That's why video becomes so powerful in the crowdfunding world. Video is your calling card, your way for potential funders to get to know you quickly. It's shareable online, and if it's remarkable, people will share it, building your base. As Kickstarter writes on the how-to part of its website: "If you're like us, the first thing you do when visiting a project page is click play. Projects with videos succeed at a much higher rate than those without (50% vs. 30%)."

I've seen good videos quickly boost projects into the success zone. Some of my favorites are the New York Pizza Project, which funded within a day or so its launch, and an IndieGoGo campaign to provide school desks for an orphanage in India. Though worlds apart, these two projects touch on certain core principles that will make your video a success, too.

Connect with a culture. New York and pizza both represent powerful cultures, and the New York Pizza Project has both. This very nearly puts it into the "can't miss" category, because people who love NY and love pizza will enjoy sharing this campaign and perhaps supporting it.

Use testimonials. Who are the people who will benefit from your crowdfunding campaign? Let them appear in your video. The School Desks for Orphans project on IndieGoGo takes this simple step of putting those on camera who will benefit the most. That technique has worked so well, the project raised more than one thousand percent of its goal.

What's stopping you from creating your video? You might lack equipment, skills, or even a good place for your interviews. Rest assured, you can make a great video using your smartphone or iPhone, as long as you pick a good spot to film. Start by doing a survey: Shoot some test video of yourself or a friend in the spot you're thinking of using. How's the audio? Can you hear what you're saying? Or is it mostly the bus going by? Can you be seen? The video is about connecting with your potential backers and supporters, so they will need to see you. Shooting in the dark won't work.

One more tip: Watch successful videos and learn from them. I do a regular YouTube show that does this every week, deconstructing each video from a technical standpoint, and most often from a human standpoint, letting you in on the secrets of how each video works. Kickstarter has this handy list of what any successful crowdfunding video needs to include. A few key points:

- Tell the story behind your project.
- Come out and ask for people's support.
- Explain that if you don't reach your goal, you'll get nothing.
- Thank everyone!

It's amazing how often video creators omit at least one of these steps, even forgetting to actually ask for the money.

I'm leading a crowdfunding video production workshop this summer at General Assembly in Los Angeles and we'll be covering all this and more. Crowdfunding is a powerhouse, allowing creative media folks, entrepreneurs, startups and social change advocates to get backing, launch and create. Take the first step: Get started on your video.