The Sochi Project: Three Years of Crowdfunding


General Photography, Photobooks

The Sochi Project - makers of Sochi Singers, Safety First, and Empty land, Promised land, Forbidden land - just released statistics of their first three years of crowdfunding. The findings might surprise some people - they did surprise me to some extent. (more)

First of all, only 15% of the money comes from small donations (“between €10 and €100, which only gives them access to our website”). Key quote:

“During readings or workshops we give on crowdfunding that is often our advice to people considering crowdfunding: small donations are good for building momentum and creating a following, but administering them is a hellish job that costs more money than it generates. In our case this is also due to our project’s five-year nature: every quarter, we ask the people who have donated for a year to renew their support, a process that entails numerous reminders and mounds of paperwork.”
This seems somewhat related to what I have noticed at various Kickstarter campaigns: Unless people start going for the bigger pledges having dozens and dozens of smaller ones doesn’t get you anywhere.

This is not to say that small pledges are useless, but it hints at a problem that I have been stressing for years now: Fine-art photography is a niche market, with a relatively small number of people interested. You don’t have this simple numbers problem in areas such as politics, for example, where Barack Obama can raise millions from small donations online simply because there exist millions of people willing to give money.

The repercussions for publishing seem obvious: You either have a very large base of people willing to give you a small amount of money (which is why major newspapers will get away with paywalls much more easily than smaller ones - paywalls, btw, aren’t so much paywalls as simply tools to make people pay for something they consume), or you have to rely on donors willing (or able) to give you €100/$100 or €1000/$1000 or more. People interested in raising money via crowdfunding might want to take note!