The $1,000 Experiment: Kickstarter Your Ministry To Success And Failure - Part 3

What if you used Kickstarter in your church?

Does that very thought of doing something different send you running for the hills?

Imagine if your ministry started using Facebook ads to share the Gospel.

Does that thought scare you, simply because you don't know how to do that?

What if your church just got back from Quito, and you have some amazing stories to share? It would be a wasted video to play it just once inside your sanctuary.

God's given us all of the tools we need NOW to reach billions. 

What do you already do on a regular basis that you could turn into an MVP? Video is an easy answer. What else?

What are you not crowdfunding right now that you could be crowdfunding to grow your ministry?

Reread the parable of the talents.

You should be looking to:

  • Build orphanages
  • Build churches
  • Create Spirit-breathed media
  • Feed 10,000 in Haiti 
  • Build a shelter downtown
  • Give all of the teachers at your local high school gift cards
  • Share the Gospel with 2 billion (yep - BILLION)
  • And more

The part in the parable of the talents that is less obvious is that it is Godly to take what He has given you, and take INITIATIVE.

Yes, it's always good to listen to the Holy Spirit. 

But God won't always give you a thundering "GO MY SON, AND DO *THIS*"

Sometimes, you're expected to be fruitful with what the Master has trusted you with.

Back in October, Church Films launched an entire campaign called Encourage My Life (or EML), and we took it to Kickstarter once we had some byproducts from the campaign:

  • A 3-week encouragement challenge
  • A mentorship inventory that covers 14 areas of mentorship in our lives
  • A 3-month goal and prayer journal 
  • Silicone bracelets that read "Be Encouraging"

I want you to do the same: create a byproduct from your current series.

Then crowdfund it.

Don't pass it through 20 different layers of red tape. Jump straight to the person (if that's not you) who makes decisions and take a leap of faith after doing your homework.

church MVP.png

We are a small team of volunteers (i.e. less than 10). 

You are a part of a church or a church ministry, which usually boasts more than 10. 

So quit your lip service.

Bury your excuses.

Trust the King of Kings with the talents He's entrusted you with.

Pull out your pen and paper, Evernote, or Google Docs.

And get to creating!

BONUS: I have a painfully exhaustive 8-step crowdfunding worksheet for you at the end. You need to know TO THE DOLLAR what amount you need to raise for your crowdfunding campaign. 

5. Vlog

Marketing is not selling.

No, no, no sireee. 

They's be different.

You have to take something knowing that when Solomon said "there's nothing new under the sun," there's really nothing new under the sun.

Marketing is about forming a creative strategy to share a message. 

That's it. I'm learning every day because this ministry Church Films is about sharing the Gospel through creative, engaging ways.

Without marketing, your message falls on deaf ears, no matter how good the message is-

-and it's your job to figure it OUT.

We settled on a 21-day vlog (a video journal) to promote the 21-day encouragement challenge (and also the entire EML campaign). 

Here's the pilot:

This pilot has a fair runtime. 

For the online world, 15 seconds or less is about all you have. 

A 30-minute sermon may play in the background with a casual web surfer.

Will a 12-year-old play it? Unlikely. He's probably too wrapped up with Minecraft. 

Will your 55-year-old faithful churchgoer listen to the whole bloomin' thing? Probably.

The internet has destroyed attention spans, at least, in the context of the internet. 

Online, you'll only get about 20% of your people watching a full one-minute video.


But that shouldn't scare you. 

If you're marketing a launch on Kickstarter (or any other crowdfunding platform), then you need to get creative. 

If that means creating a new video every day for 45 days straight, then you're going to go nuts doing it.

Marketing strategies have to change things up every now and again. This is a mantra at

What can you do that's different? 

This shouldn't be too hard. In the church world, there are a lot of copycats.

Be different and be creative - you were made in the image of the Ultimate Creator. 

Did the 21-days of vlogging do well in promoting the EML campaign? 

The videos averaged 100 views on Facebook.

But a view on Facebook is anything over 3 seconds long. Unless you have a spectacular intro, your audience will run for the hills after those first few seconds.

You can access these stats by going to your video on Facebook (not the post, but the video itself) and clicking "insights." 

That picture shows a vertical blue line - you can drag that line through the video and see what percentage of people stuck around to watch your video up until that point.

The general rule of thumb I'm seeing is that about 20% will watch a short video all the way through, like I mentioned earlier.


Did it grow the newsletter? Manual outreach did - not the Facebook videos. 

I learn every day what works and what doesn't. The Facebook videos did not work well because I did not keep things simple.

That same video pictured above was one of 21 videos that all looked like this:

It was just too much. These videos would get about one link click, as shown above.

I learned the hard way.

There's no need for you to.

I've since gone back and made it a point to offer a three-part structure with most every post I do (even my personal ones):

  • Summary of the post
  • Encouragement for the reader
  • One call-to-action - not 5 links, not 23 hashtags - one CTA

I shared this same strategy with the Mark Gungor team a few weeks ago. Their Facebook page wasn't doing so well when it came time to do a sales pitch. 

I put together a 10-minute video showing the team what they could do to boost their engagement. 

With 100,000 fans on Facebook alone, there was lots of room to engage their followers. 

The team was very thankful, and they were excited to try the new strategies. 

Using this three part structure of summary, encouragement, and CTA, they immediately started seeing results when it came time to promote a product.

You should use a similar approach. 

But vary things up.

Don't do this three-part structure all the time. Remember, marketing strategies need to be fluid! 

6. Prelaunch

Originally, we only had the bracelets in mind. 

But we soon discovered the potential beyond just encouraging others to encourage other people for 21 days. 

The biggest motivator was the bracelets were not proprietary.

And while encouraging others is noble, it's too vague for most of us. 

We wanted something that was free for everyone as a digital good, but would be a paid option as a hardcopy.

We need cash to produce a physical good. We can't print those with the wave of a magic wand.

So a tangible option would be a paid option. The word that's in circulation for this sort of upgrade is freemium.

Which is why we developed a 3-part journal, the EML journal or Encourage My Life Journal.

It was a great idea. Journals were doing well on Kickstarter.

I thought it might find its audience as I was building this audience.

LESSON: don't create something YOUR audience doesn't want.

I had zero validation from my audience - you - the Bold Nation.

-Gross error-

Leading up to the launch, I started building the Kickstarter campaign. 

You CAN build any campaign you want long before you ever publish the campaign - much like building out your website.

Here are some practical tips:

  1. Look at related Kickstarter campaigns. Copy what they did well and make it work for you. 
  2. Use GIF pictures. It's a way to cheat around having a video. I used Photoshop to create mine. 
  3. Be creative with your pitch video. Don't just talk to the camera.
  4. Keep the reward tiers to a minimum. Remember the Lion Tamer principle.
  5. Double-check your numbers.
  6. Have your cohort go over the campaign before hitting the launch button.

That first step can be a doozy for people.

To create a GIF, keep it simple:

1. Create a video and avoid lots of dynamic range (lots of shading) - keep your image to a few flat colors where possible. 

2. Take your video into Photoshop.

3. Use the Save For Web option.

4. Select the GIF 64 No Dither option and leave the settings alone.

5. Hit the save button and tell your computer where to stash the GIF file. 

6. Even with a savvy Macbook Pro, creating a GIF can be as slow as Christmas. BE PATIENT if it is slow.

Good copy, a few GIF's, a video you can put your name to, a few rewards, and links back to your website - these are your meat and potatoes for Kickstarter.

Every crowdfunding platform is different. And there are MANY to choose from. Kickstarter is the biggest.

But it may not be the niche you're looking for. 

I learned of Seed and Spark today for indie filmmakers. 

I still think Tilt is a good option for a nonprofit and certainly a church ministry because you can raise funds for either for FREE.


If you use Kickstarter, here are the three key areas you will need to pay attention to when adding muscle and bone to your campaign:

1. If you are indeed a nonprofit, you will need to disclose your EIN.

2. They will want your bank account info - they have to deposit the funds when the campaign wraps up. This can take 14 calendar days. 

NOTE: Your bank will then drag their feet releasing the funds. This can take another 7 or more days - remember, banks get interest-free loans on your cash - headsup. 

3. Kickstarter had a breech in February of 2014. CNET had this to say about it:

As with anything, be wise as serpents, gentle as doves...


When I hit the launch button, I had a backer within minutes. He was a serial backer on Kickstarter.

Three people on the Bold Nation newsletter ultimately backed the project - and the Bold Nation was the first to know about it. 

That's what you will do too - let your audience know about it first before going public with your campaign on social media, and only AFTER you have validated a real desire to fill a need or solve a problem with your audience.

Assuming you have validated your idea, remember your audience. They've stuck with you through thick and thin - they should know about any early deals first.

I had three backers from the Bold Nation because I didn't validate the journal with them. 


I learned the hard way - give your audience what they want. 

Listen to them. 

Create your MVP with them and for them. 

Then go to a crowdfunding platform and let them know about it. 

Whatever platform you choose, you will find that there are people already there that want to support your project, especially if it is a niche idea.

Now you know what to do.

You'll need to crunch numbers at some point.

I put together a detailed, 8-step worksheet for you to calculate your crowdfunding goal. Get your copy here.

I want you to succeed. Comment below and let the Church Films team know what you want to launch. If it's big and bold, why not podcast about it?

When your audience is behind an idea, put your faith in God, not numbers, and just launch already!

At the very least you will learn - a lot. 

Though the Kickstarter was not validated, this is what we did accomplish over the three months with our $1,000 experiment:

  • The newsletter grew 6x
  • The Instagram following tripled
  • We created 3 amazing digital booklets that challenge, encourage, and emphasize time with our Father - three booklets that are still being downloaded
  • This 3-part blog post is full of wins and fails

What are you willing to do to take the Gospel outside of the 9 am block on Sunday mornings?

Get to it!

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.