Wednesday, December 6, 2023

The Power of Prizes

Silje ran an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign. Even though she put a lot of work into building her page and was diligent about providing updates as time went on, she simply didn’t have the enthusiasm of potential backers she needed to seal the deal. At the end of the project, she felt frustrated and a little embarrassed. Kickstarter was a rather public way to fail for her liking.

A few months later she decided to swallow her pride and conduct an informal email survey among friends who she knew would be honest about what they thought had caused her Kickstarter to falter.

The answers surprised her.

“Silje,” wrote one friend, “I donated a little bit to your campaign because you’re my friend. If I’m being honest, I’ve given more to campaigns run by people I didn’t know nearly as well just because they had cool stuff I wanted. No kidding. One time I wasn’t going to donate at all to a particular band but then I got an email about their Kickstarter because I am on the email list and when I saw that one of the prizes was a Ren & Stimpy film festival at their apartment I gave them $50 just because that sounded too ridiculous to miss (it was worth every penny, by the way) next time, make your prizes amazing and I think you’ll get to your goal.”

Several friends said the same thing. That they gave her a donation because she was a friend but that the incentives she offered were nothing too exciting. Silje sent out a second email to the group inviting them to offer suggestions for attention-grabbing prizes. Six months later she hosted a celebratory dance party in her backyard for all her high-level donors.

As much as we would all like to believe that Kickstarter is about people coming together out of a sense of pure altruism, the reality is people. love. prizes. If you are going to successfully fund your project, one of the best weapons in your artillery is the incentives you offer at every level.

To the people donating $5, there should be something truly heartfelt because often those are the people who mean it most and are digging the deepest. But for the level right above that, something truly unique and enticing could mean the difference between getting that higher donation or not.

Be creative about your incentives. Some ways you can really sweeten the pot are:

  • Offer something that would be otherwise completely unavailable. Not just limited editions of your work, but actual access to your process and your life as an artist. Invite people in. Host a studio visit or a dance party. Have a film festival in your living room (or in a neutral but inexpensive location)
  • For donors who give a large amount, combine prizes. Allow them to have some of the amazing incentives offered at other levels and also do something extra special just for them.
  • Use willing volunteers. Have a friend who’s a DJ? Ask for a freebie to throw your dance party.

Successfully funding your work through Kickstarter is about more than crafting your message. Did you know that Praxis Center offers a complete course on running a successful crowdfunding campaign? For just $40/month you can have full access to this and our suite of other courses plus a community of experts and peers. Give the people something they truly want. Believe in the power of incentives and you will be that much closer to your ultimate goal.



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