You’ve got a Kickstarter campaign. It’s ready to go. Time to put your baby out into the world and cross your fingers. So how do you entice donors to take a chance on your ideas? It’s all about the incentives. You’ve heard the expression “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” right? Well Kickstarter rewards are basically the embodiment of this. Sure you’re asking strangers to donate to a project near and dear to your heart, so make it worth their while along the way. The most successful Kickstarters are those that offer truly unique and exciting rewards to backers. Whether it’s a writer naming a character after a particularly generous donor, or computer coders offering passwords to their supporters and allowing them to hack in, the more involvement you offer, the more likely you are to find yourself with a fully funded campaign. Here are five ideas for fun, creative donor rewards.
1. Flash Drive—since the computer is the bread and butter of this online endeavor, why not use it to thank your donors for their support. Purchase flash drives (make them interesting, you can get these in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors) and load images of your work. Make it a cornucopia of files and let what’s on the drive be a surprise. Allow recipients full rights to the images contained in the drive. Whether they want to print them, save them, or send them to friends, this is a great way to say thank you while also getting your work out further into the world.
2. Donor Involvement—Perhaps you specialize in collaborative art. Well, a Kickstarter is the natural way to a bigger brainstorm. Invite your backers to help you visualize, imagine, expand, and create ideas for your project. Take their input seriously. Give direction then allow them the freedom to explore. You might be amazed by what comes your way. If you go this route, be prepared to incorporate at least one idea from every participant in your final product. You’ll know whether this is the right option for you.
3. Invite them in—Maybe your project just doesn’t lend itself to donor involvement in the creative process. That’s ok! You can still let them feel like they are part of the action while maintaining control of the creative reins. Invite backers to visit your studio, whether in person or virtually. Offer them the chance to see you at work so they can understand exactly what their generosity is funding. If you have local backers, make it an event. Hold an open studio complete with hors d’oeuvres. If you really have a flare for cooking, you could even host a dinner and studio night. Allow those in attendance to ask questions and truly feel a part of your world. If your backers are far away, arrange a skype or a telephone call. Set aside enough time to field questions and, if you’re using a video call, give them a virtual tour of your workspace.
4. Signed Work—An obvious way to thank the people who make your work possible is by simply sharing that work with them. Create a series of signed pieces you can send donors. The work should in some way reflect your current project. Make it original, make it special, make it say here, this is what you are making possible.
5. Give Credit—Another very basic way to thank donors is by giving them credit for their involvement. Whether in the program for your opening, the credits of your film, or any other way you would typically give credit, include your backers and make sure they know about it. While it’s nice to think that most people engage in acts of philanthropy out of the goodness of their hearts, it’s also human nature to want a shout out for their generosity.
These are only a few ways you can thank the people who back your Kickstarter campaign. Your work will of course largely dictate what sort of incentives make sense for you. If you can’t cook, don’t invite them to dinner. If you hate a studio full of people, choose methods that involve donors at a distance. Rewards need to serve several purposes, they ought to be a genuine gesture of gratitude and at the same time be in keeping with your comfort level as an artist and as a person. When planning your rewards, be aware that donors will give at varying levels. It is a good idea to offer a tiered incentive system reflecting this. If you have $5 donors, it may not be worth your time and investment to send them a signed piece, and a flash drive may not be quite enough to thank a $500 donor. No matter what level you are rewarding, always be sure you are sincere. Include a handwritten thank you note with every single reward you send and follow up as your campaign progresses to keep your donors involved in every step of the process.