Crowdfunding ‘The Shovel and the Pickle’

One of the newest members of our team Nhung Nguyen, is bound for Central Asia to film a documentary. Nhung’s project, ‘The Shovel and the Pickle’ has been crowdfunded with supporters providing donations and receiving project updates and other perks in return. 

Crowdfunding platforms like Pozible, Indiegogo, StartSomeGood, Kickstarter and a host of others are being used to fund projects created and driven by passionate people that may not have been made into reality otherwise.

In the lead up to her departure, we’ve been entertained with stories of packing, fundraising and pickles.  We asked Nhung to share what she has learned about crowdfunding before heading off on a six-week sojourn:

Five things I’ve learned from running a crowdfunding campaign

Shovel_Pickle_TeamIn a month, I’m heading to a place called Kyrgyzstan (I swear it exists, I didn’t make it up!) to make a documentary about an Australian girl, her Russian family and life in Kyrgyztan. We’ve been running a crowdfunding campaign called ‘The Shovel & The Pickle‘ to raise money for the film on Pozible.

Here are the five most useful things I’ve learned along the way.

1. Set reasonable expectations before the campaign.

Determine an achievable funding target, have a good estimate of the support you’ll receive, map out your campaign plan and have a clear understanding of the workload ahead. Of course things can change, they can go wrong, you may have bad days, but at least you’re prepared for it.

2. Add more values for your audience.

Begging and pestering people for money is not the best way to raise money. We decided that we need to bring added value into people’s life: something fun, surprising and sharing some of the knowledge we picked up along the way. Cute kittens might drive traffic but people forget what your project is about.


On our Facebook page we made sure to reward our supporters in interesting ways, including sharing Babushka’s recipes. Over the years, Polly (the star of our documentary) has collected and written down her grandma’s recipes. We decided to bring them to life by actually making them, and posting them on our blog and Facebook page. An authentic Borscht recipe from babushka on Winter’s Solstice is clearly a winner.

Russian proverbs: The cultural differences between Australia and Russia is one of the things that drew us to this project. What better way to bring Russian ancient wisdom to life?

Where’s Kyrgyzstan? When we said we’re going to make a film in Kyrgyzstan, everyone was confused. Kurdistan? Kazakhstan? Kyrzakhstan? To help our supporters understand, we created an infographic using, a great online tool to create engaging infographic within minutes.


Pickling workshop: In the last week of our campaign, we organised a free pickling workshop in our backyard. Together we learnt to sterilise jars, stuff tomatoes and cucumbers tightly into them and how to aspirin to kill bacteria. Every participant was given a ‘Pickling Certificate’ at the end of the session.

3. Show your gratitude. Creatively.


This seems like a no-brainer but it’s very important. To honour our supporters, we put their name on a pickle jars label and posted it our Facebook wall. It took a while for people to realise it actually has THEIR NAME on it, but it brings wonderful surprise. Our Facebook stats showed that these jars have the highest rate of virality.

Visit the album Larder of Honour on our Facebook page to see all the supporters jars.

4. Don’t try to do everything.

Before launching the campaign, we were very ambitious and wanted to push our message on every social media channel: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr, Google+… you name it! We realised this was a lot of work and would not be the most effective way to reach our audience. We soon realised that most of the traffic to our Pozible page come from Facebook, so we dropped other channels and focussed there.

5. Don’t be shy.

Starting a crowd funding campaign means asking everyone you know (and you don’t know!) for money and that’s hard. You’ll need to believe in your project and develop a thick skin. Most of the time, people are willing to help, and in the worst case the answer is a ‘No’. Another truth is people are busy. You may be looking at your project all the time, but they don’t. Sending a second or a third reminder for people to donate isn’t that outrageous. Most of the time, people would actually say, “Thanks for reminding me, I was going to do it but then I got carried away with other stuff.”

We’ll be following Nhung’s journey to Kyrgyzstan and will be sharing stories from babushka and life in Central Asia over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!