Our experience with Voordekunst and tips for crowdfunding in general

Every artist and small organisation probably at one point or another has been confronted with the term “crowdfunding”. The funding of a project by a crowd. The image surrounding crowdfunding is mostly fuelled by successfull projects having been made possible by tons of small donations through crowdfunding. Sounds magical, right? Let’s do it.

The reality, however, at least for quite a few people and organisations is a little different. In this blog I will share our experience with Voordekunst and will formulate some do’s and don’t concerning crowdfunding in general based on our own experience.

Kim van der Horst | Director Fondation Constant




The truth is that most organisations and people who turn to crowdfunding have a real financial deficit and most likely are a small organisation or individual or group of artists without a fully staffed marketing department. When I look back on the project Constant 101, I glow with pride and joy. However, when I reflect on our experience with crowdfunding and platform Voordekunst, specifically, I have to conclude that it was one of the harsh lessons we learned.

It was right at the beginning, we had already applied and gotten quite a few subsidies but still had a gap of about 15.000€ in the budget. We knew that funding partners looked favourably upon projects that were able to raise extra funds through their own networks. Since platform Voordekunst was a partners of several sponsors, we decided to go with them. 

After a number of phone calls and an explanation of what the project entailed, I created a campaign. Because I was unsure about the amount, I consulted their advisors. 13.000€ felt like it was maybe too high an amount for us to raise. They emphasized that a project with so many partners should easily raise €13,000 and they would assist us with advice.

The campaign went online and the first Voordekunst-tip-for-a-successful-campaign arrived in my inbox: “Use your entire team for the communication of your campaign”. In panic I looked at my assistent, the entire “team” of Constant 101 was, me, the project manager and a part-time project assistant. During the several phone calls the Voordekunst team had not asked me about the size of the team with which I was running this project. We asked Mrs. Nieuwenhuys to jump in and she, being pasionate about her late husband’s work and our project, called her entire network. After a month of full-time work, we had raised just over € 6500. Amazing! We were so proud and grateful to all donors.

Now, the rule at Voordekunst is that if the target amount is not reached within the specified period, they will refund the donated amount to the donors.

For us, this meant that we would lose a month’s work. We were exhausted and had much other work to do besides. In the end, with pain in our hearts, we “donated” our own money to reach the target amount of the campaign. Voordekunst charges a 7% commission on the total “raised” amount, in addition to an initial €100 to access the platform. Since half of the amount was not an donation but was paid by us, in reality we paid 14% over the donated amount.

Afterwards it turned out that many small organizations and artists in our network had similar experiences with Voordekunst. Thanks to the perverse incentive that you can lose everything after a month, many organizations that have the opportunity, supplement the amount from their own resources and pay a commission over their own money. The success figures are therefore kept artificially high, which in turn tempts the next ignorant artist or organization to use the platform.

Some Tips and Tricks

Now, our bad experience with Voordekunst doesn’t necessarily lead to the conclusion that one should never crowdfund. Obviously it can be a great tool if used correctly. However, before you throw yourself into it, there are a few things you need to know:

1. The crowdfunding platforms don’t really do anything for your campaign but provide a platform and some tips. If you don’t want to lose 3 to 7(14)% of the donated amount, you can also choose to work with a youtube video and Tikkie/Payal link, of course.

2. Crowdfunding is more of a marketing tool than a source of quick money. It is a great way to activate and engage your network for your project but it is a lot of work. If you find it hard to ask your family and friends for money for your project, if you do not enjoy constantly communicating on social media or calling everyone after you have sent them an email, maybe crowdfunding is not for you.

3. Crowdfunding for a specific product (album or publication) is easier than for an event because you can pre-sell these items with an autograph, for example, and ship them to donors.

4. Crowdfunding is a fulltime job and the campaign will only be as succesfull as the effort you put into it. Most of the donations will come from your own network so the more people you have in the team who will actively appeal to their friends and family the better your chances to reach your goal. In most cases the percentage of strangers that will donate to your project will be relatively small, some viral campaigns excluded.

5. Since crowdfunding is very much like marketing it helps if you have someone on team who has experience with tools like Mailchimp and the different social media. Also having a great sales person on board is an asset, someone who can talk about your project enthousiastically and has no shame asking for donations.

6. There are many different crowdfunding platforms tailored to every financing need, for nonprofit, start ups, charity or art projects. Find one that suits your project. For art projects in the Netherlands you will quickly land on Voordekunst but just know there are alternatives. Since your campaign is online you are not limited to a Dutch platform. Besides emailing tips to successfully crowdfund Voordekunst does not really do anything for you. The commission of 7% is therefore quite steep. A platform like GoFundMe for example charges 2,9% plus 0,25€ per transaction.

7. Many websites provide tips for succesfull crowdfunding. Spend some time googling the subject,it will help you make the right choices and avoid the obvious pitt falls.

8. Keep your crowdfunding goal low and within reach, if your campaign is succesfull you can always go over the goal amount, not reaching the amount is where the damage is done.