The $1,000 Experiment: Kickstarter Your Ministry To Success And Failure - Part 2

If you have an idea to raise funds for your nonprofit, charity, next movie, or church in particular, then why not crowdfund?

You can use Kickstarter. You can use Indiegogo or Tilt or other services. There are exceptions on Kickstater, but you can crowdfund!

Download the "Just Ship It!" crowdfunding worksheet. Write down your idea and calculate just how much you need to raise in 8 steps.

For less than $1,000, you can validate (or invalidate in the worst-case scenario) an idea in less than 3 months. I just came out of a crowdfunding campaign myself, and I'd love to show you the good, the bad, and the ugly from our last Church Films adventure.

You're on a mission - from God, as Elwood Blues said. What's yours? 

Is it clear or ambiguous? Does it inspire growth or does it foster apathy?

Take a guess at the above church's size. 

If your vision is spelled out, and if it's easy enough for a 6-year-old to understand it, and if you have leadership that's committed to serving people with clear direction, then your church will grow. 

I want to help you do that; the same old tiring tithe speech just won't cut it.

The 80/20 rule tells us your closest, core pillars are what keep the lights on anyways.

What if instead of trying to raise funds for the next building or the airfare required for the next pastors' conference, you were raising funds to:

  • Get an 8-part series on Godly marriage into the hands of 50,000 couples
  • Feed 1,000 orphans in Mozambique three squares a day for an entire year
  • Plant 10 new churches in your town over the next 7 years

Because as a leader, you have to cast vision and get people to go where they wouldn't go on their own. 

You want to serve your same ten-square miles? Okay. But what about leveraging the tools God has given us to reach millions? 

Like video.

Do you know about xvidstatx?

They aggregate YouTube statistics. It's pretty detailed. I had high hopes that a follower of Christ or other Spirit-filled group would crack the top 100.


The top 1000 for channel views? 

Not even.

Good ole Jefferson Bethke is way down on the list.

Remember his 2012 spoken word video "Why I hate religion, but love Jesus"? That's Jeff.

We have to do more.

Build that newsletter. Then crowdfund your idea. Let's talk about:

  • How to promote your giveaway 
  • How to build that email list beyond the same 50 people in your congregation

3. Promotion

You can click that big yeller button that says "1" if you need to rewind. 

Let's assume you're caught up on your IDEA and GIVEAWAY.

You need to promote the giveaway. 

a. Use Facebook groups

What groups are you a part of?

Don't spam them! If you're a regular contributor, share your giveaway a few times through the duration of its life.

I made it a point to avoid any spammy promotion with our September Kickstarter campaign on the Facebook Christian film groups. 

Not everyone plays by that rule.

And their engagement pays for it.

I'm guilty of it too. I've worked hard on that, and I will always make sure Church Films works hard on that.

People are more important than task. Remember that. 

Think of it this way (and for some reason, most don't) - when you have a gathering, and some loud-mouthed person comes in through the door demanding all of the attention, how do you react?

Exactly - you're not Jesus. Even Jesus might have told the fool to shush!

b. Use your personal network

Surely not everyone you know is on your newsletter. 

Ask the people you know if they can help you out. James 4 baby. We have not because we don't bloomin' ask! When it's in God's will, we just have to ask!

Ask them to share your giveaway.

Ask the newsletter too!

The folks you have zero to little connection with likely won't help you out. But you have nothing to lose by getting that church intern of yours on the job.

c. Find people who have created or shared similar content

Like blogs.

You can use Buzz Sumo or good ole Twitter search to find people who may have shared an article. 

We were offering encouraging books from Maxwell, Vujicic, Young, and Lucado, so for these authors of the faith, I used Buzzsumo to find people who wrote about them recently. 

If they had a Twitter profile, even better. This could work for Facebook too, it's just that Twitter is less cluttered with cat videos. 

Here's a sample of what I would send people. Very few agreed to promote this. All in all, it was about 2-3 people out of about 4 dozen that I emailed.

That's not great, but it's about a 5% conversion rate and it could have been a whopping zero. 

If they share it, figure out a way to return the favor.

Just this morning (1/4/16), I sent a quick, 13-second thank-you video through YouTube. It was unlisted, and it was a link I simply put in the email to the lady that agreed to share a blog post. 

She quickly wrote back that she had never had a thank-you video. It made her day.

Think about it. A thank you video goes a long way because it communicates that you value their time. It's harder than an email. Just like snail mail is still gold because it's harder than an email.

Subscribing on their newsletter is a great gesture too. 

Do something to say thanks - don't box yourself in.

d. Use Reddit

Now Reddit is a different beast altogether from Facebook, Twitter, and the other big dogs in social media.

It has millions of users daily. 

You can share anything on Reddit. You just have to be attentive to the rules. 

Each subreddit (or thread) has its own set of rules. Read through them before posting your giveaway. 

Try /r/giveaway, /r/giveaways, and /r/sweepstakes.

And think of what you're offering.

If it's Christian music, look for a Christian art, Christian music, or Christianity subreddit. 

They may not be too savvy with having a giveaway in their thread, but you're not going to make up excuses for them. ASK!

These subredditors are fairly lenient. The cost of admission is to play by the rules. 

Each thread is moderated by one or more people, so each subreddit will have its own set of rules. Just don't abuse the sandbox - sharing the space is key here.

I asked a couple of moderators - folks from the Bible and encouragement subreddits if I could post my giveaway on their board. 

Would you waltz into a party, uninvited and loudly announce what you're all about? Of course not. 

It's the same with the internet. But people forget that and feel "safe" to act like fools from behind their screens.

Show some common decency. ASK first. Because I asked, I had a great chat with one of the moderators, my giveaways was pinned to the top of the subreddit.

Or "stickied" as they call it at Reddit. Same thing.

Have you read James 4 yet? When you finish this blog post, go read James 4. 

Jesus himself even said we need to ask and believe. 

So what's holding you back? 

Oh, they wouldn't do ___________ for me...

You're valued. Unique. Loved. You're not a nobody. That fear-based, lazy excuse you make up every time is a byproduct of the unseen war. 

God loves you and validates you. The world, the enemy - they don't care about you and they love to invalidate you. 

Which camp do you think is influencing you every time you make up an excuse not to try? 


Within a week of creating the giveaway, I had 70 new emails. 

70 new emails. 

All from Reddit. I *should* have used my landing page for this giveaway exclusively and loaded a unique Google Analytics code onto that one page to see my referral sources. 

I know the initial 70 were from Reddit because it was the only place I shared the giveaway initially. 

But Google Analytics would have been useful to see where other traffic (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) was coming from. KEEP THAT IN MIND.

Now the great part of a giveaway is the return you get on your investment (ROI). Facebook ads and Google ads can't give you these kinds of results for the same buck. 

My biggest mistake with the giveaway was not running ads to my giveaway from Facebook.

I should have. Facebook is dirt cheap when it comes to advertising. Especially since I wasn't selling something.

I was giving away something! 

Same for you. Own your giveaway and be proud of the fact you are giving away a gift.

I have since gone back and learned a great deal more about Facebook ads. 

I didn't at the time, and I didn't choose the road less traveled. 

Learn what you don't know or delegate, and remember the simple prayer "Lord, help me." 

The contest is over, and I still get a new email every week on my newsletter at the funnel I set up to promote our encouragement challenge.

4. Email

At this point, you have:

  • Come up with an MVP
  • Set up a giveaway
  • Started promoting the giveaway

You should be seeing results on your newsletter. And you want to continue watering it. 

This newsletter of yours is critical. 

With a newsletter, you don't need crowdfunding honestly. If you have a healthy newsletter full of people that trust you, then voila! You have a crowd.

After this last crowdfunding effort, I will be focusing on building this community with church leaders, creatives, filmmakers and YOU!

Remember, crowdfunding is just a point-of-sale system, which is just a fancy way of saying it's a way to check out your groceries and get a high-five on the way out. 

If you're a church, you've already got an audience, even if it's only 50 strong on any given Sunday and 5 strong on your newsletter. 

Crowdfunding is merely a way to say "this lane's open" when it comes time to release your MVP. 

But nobody likes being sold to. I made this mistake for the last 7 months. 

Building your audience - same as you do every Sunday morning - is important. It takes time. There are no shortcuts.

What if your church started blogging? 

Churches don't do that.

I know, but what if you reached the hurt and the broken through a blog?

Church Films started a weekly blog just within the past few months, starting with the first ten chapters of The No Budget Guide To Filmmaking: The 30-Step Guide For Low-Budget Filmmakers, Church Video Production, And Other Artists Who Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too.

The traffic has grown, the newsletter has grown, and the feedback is growing too. 

Figure out what you can say, weekly, besides another jaded "sermon series announcement." 

Take Mark Gungor for example. 

He's a pastor of a church. 

He also has a very full plate between his videos, talks, and materials for Godly, healthy marriages. 

Even while running a church, he's built a team, and they are constantly creating new ways to reach people with the hope we have in Jesus. 

They just so happen to do it through marriage. And they're darn good at it (plug for Mark Gungor - hint hint). 

Brothers, sisters - the hope we have in Jesus has not changed. His message of love, forgiveness, and grace has not changed.

Our methods of delivery have.

Mark reaches multitudes of people through his "Laugh Your Way To A Better Marriage" series - more people than through his church.

And it's not for his glory either, but the King's. 

God's crazy about Godly, healthy marriages.

What is your ministry passionate about that you can take outside your four walls? 

If you're grasping for ideas:

  1. Take any (non-business account) gmail and login to Google Adwords.
  2. Look for the Keyword Planner under Tools.
  3. Throw in a couple of big items and see how many people are looking for grace.
keyword planner.png

For example, let's look at how many times "porn" is searched for every month on Google. 

After all, you're in ministry. You're in the hope business, the hope that we have in Jesus.

That's just through Google. 

Bing has a similar tool.

What could you do? It's hard to teach someone who doesn't want to follow Christ to live like Christ. 

But what about the men and women in your congregation that are sold out to Christ? What about those guys and gals that are still wrestling with a porn addiction? 

Think you could create a weekly blog to reach them?

quit porn.png

Get creative.

Why settle for the same 50 people every Sunday? God's given you all of the tools you need to reach millions if not billions.

What can you teach that's valuable, shareable, and something you can write as a blog? Share on a YouTube channel? Podcast about? 

Oh I can't write... thanks for noticing...

Write like you talk Eeyore - problem solved!

And an easy byproduct of blogging is you now have something you can share on your social media accounts, both the pictures you create for your blog and the blog content itself. 

You can have your cake and eat it too.


It starts with you. Your church, being the church - bold, daring, and living by faith, with clear, unencumbered vision for your flock.

Are you using YouTube? 

Or even other social media accounts?

Email newsletter?

There are so many ways to connect with people besides the great cattle herd on Sunday mornings.

I outlined the top three FREE video platforms you can use for your church right now. Pick two of them.

Reread Hebrews 4

Then stop to think about the impact Esther made. Or the 12. Or Abraham who went on a journey without knowing the end results.

You can do so much more with the message of hope and true freedom that we have in Christ. 

We don't want to be big like that Hillsongs church with all their Facebooks, Instragrams, and Snapchats.

I get it. But being small is not an excuse for being lazy with the Gospel. 

Have you ever thought about what happened to the 12 disciples? 

  • Judas croaked
  • Peter was a faithful servant 'til the end
  • Matthew had a book
  • John did too
  • ...
  • Crickets...

What happened to the doubter Thomas? Did he just kick back on Malta and eat pork rinds 'til his dying days?

I'm serious. Even the 12 had different shades of people who loved Jesus - and they spent intense time with Him!

Tradition says that all 12 (including Judas' replacement) lived and breathed the Gospel with varying degrees of reach. John is supposedly the only guy that lived out his natural years, but he did it in exile!

Your church is no different. But you can lead. You can take risks for the Kingdom of Heaven. You can do more besides invite warm bodies in through the front doors.

For example...

This young man lives in Vegas. He's not a pastor. 

He's not even on a church staff. He works at Smith's. I want him to launch a church though because he has the heart of a shepherd, and he ministers to a growing flock every day on Facebook. 

He started making simple videos with his phone on Facebook about a year ago, just sharing the Gospel. 

This is what he's up to now.

An iPhone and one year - and a heart to reach the broken and hurt with the hope we have in Jesus - that's all Stephen has.

Your church has more than one person.


This week:

  • Where to find mentorship as a follower of Christ looking to use the filmic arts
  • Capturing live video for church gatherings

Keep Church Films accountable. 

This year, we want to help launch a church for under $10,000 USD.

Then we want to make a blueprint and get it into the hands of leaders to repeat the process. 

What's your goal THIS YEAR? What can you develop in the next 90 days to further the Gospel and use crowdfunding to bring it to the people? Comment below!

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.