Why Would You Ever Give Money Through Kickstarter? by Rob Trump, NYTimes Magazine
…on Kickstarter, the reward gift doesn’t bring the transaction to completion. After financing a project and dispensing rewards, artists who use Kickstarter are in a permanent debt to the fans who supported them. This is borne out by their actions: pretty much no one who has had a successful Kickstarter project has ever been able to shut up about how thankful they are.
I am very interested in alternate business models, particularly for creative projects, and so I see a great value in the opportunities that Kickstarter and similar services offer to independent producers. And I agree philosophically with the stance on gift culture here, while leaving room to acknowledge the semi-recent trend to design campaigns as pre-orders for actual merchandise instead of pledges towards an artistic project.
However! Rob Trumps article above prompted me to go check through my past kickstarter and indiegogo contribution emails to see how many rewards have actually been fulfilled, weeding down for a) successful campaigns, and b) campaigns for which a reasonable — nay, generously long time has elapsed since completion. I find that at this time, I have received fulfillments for only 3 of 6.
50% fulfillment of over-financed campaigns is hardly respectable. And while part of me shakes my head at producers for taking money and failing to fulfill their promises, mostly I just shrug it off. It may be that the previously-underfunded are reaching for something at which they are inexperienced, and they find they don’t know how to manage their fulfillments once the blessed nod has been given. It may be that moving on with the project pushes them in directions they didn’t expect, and the campaigners get so caught up in their new priorities that they forget about the details. It happens.
We pledge to certain types of crowdfunding campaigns because we want to see people with good ideas get a chance to develop. Specifically, a chance they might not have had otherwise. This project might not run smoothly, or as planned, or at all, but we overpay for token rewards because we like to be part of someone trying to do great things. I think back to a family member contributing money to my
first, erm second business when I was 23 years old, and a small bell rings. The giver should know that the pledge is for the attempt and not necessarily the end product, or maybe they’re putting their money in the wrong places.