A recent post on the SF indieclub mailing list asked these questions and I figured other DIY filmmakers may be asking them too.
For both sites, you will be bringing 95% (or more) of the donors -- they don't have hordes of potential donors waiting with buckets of cash, sadly.
Basically, think of the sites as platforms to manage your own audience of potential donors: your family, friends, colleagues, etc.
If you are loner with no friends or family, the sites won't help you find new potential donors who you don't know. The people who donate to projects like ours are all people we know already. That's the bad news. The good news is that many of the people in your existing social circle and family want to support your project (really, they're supporting YOU, since they love -- or at least like -- you).
Both sites have their pluses and minuses, but at their core, they're pretty much the same (though IndieGoGo is a bit more film-centric since they started as a film site, while Kickstarter has a more general focus).
What did we do? Without using either Kickstarter or IndieGoGo, we've already raised over $7,000 toward our indie sci-fi feature, In-World War, mostly in $100 chunks. Not a ton, but enough to definitely make a huge difference for a DIY film like ours.
I'd say only 1 or 2 of the donors are not people I or my cast/crew know directly (and it's possible I may be wrong and those couple of people know someone working on the project -- we have hundreds in our extended cast and crew already). Again, the donations come from people you already know. That was the also case for both the investors and donors on our last film, Quality of Life.
I've read stories of people who crowdsourced their film financing through viral campaigns and hordes of generous strangers, but as with anything "viral" it makes a great case study, but is near-impossible to replicate.
Also important: we have non-profit sponsorship with the SF Film Society, which can now be integrated into IndieGoGo (it wasn't when we started the fundraising drive).
How did we do it?
- Letters, articles and donation forms (with self-addressed stamped envelopes) sent through snail mail to a few hundred of our closest friends and relatives. That's right: paper not email.
- Email blasts to our email list of hundreds of friends/family plus the thousands on our Quality of Life list.
- Email and paper donation requests were sent around specific times: start of production, finish of production, holidays, my birthday.
- We set up a production blog and special page on our site just for donations.
- It helps having the SFFS sponsorship since it makes the donations tax-deductible, though they take 10% of our online cut (less from actual checks).
To see our PDF donor form, check out the In-World War donation page here:
Feel free to test it out by donating $25 or $50 or $500. We're still in post, so need all the support we can get. ;-)
To summarize: these sites are just tools. Whatever you use, your fundraising success depends on your willingness to hit up your friends and family. Sadly, no one else really cares about your project (especially in the early stages before you've shot anything).
Don't count on the kindness of strangers.