Everyone nowadays appears to be crowdfunding: entrepreneurs, startups, small businesses, philanthropies, and, of course, creative types of all kinds. The democratization of micropayments allows for more creative projects—across all verticals—to come to fruition. There is also an emotional connection that comes from microinvesting in passion projects that adds a level of unheard of personal involvement on the part of investors. And that’s a good thing.
These things having been said, Kickstarter crowdfunding success stories are, I worry, over-emphasized by many tech journalists. That kind of hyper-optimism does not give organizations the necessary tools to approach the crowdfunding site in a clear-headed manner. While there is no question that crowdfunding platforms are here to stay, and that sites like indieGogo and Kickstarter gain their influence at the expense of the gatekeepers of the past, it should be noted that only 44 percent of Kickstarter projects succeeded in raising their funding. That is not so much the fault of Kickstarter, but rather a negative assessment of the pitch through crowdsourcing. But achieving a successful Kickstarter campaign is hard work involving, at its most basic level, the leveraging of multiple social media channels and a deep understanding of your target audience.
Here are some more interesting facts about Kickstarter, which updates its statistics daily, to put things into proper perspective:
Most Successful Projects Raise Less Than $10,000. If there is anything that really stands out in this tangle of numbers on their stats page, it is this. “Most successfully funded projects raise less than $10,000, but a growing number have reached six and even seven figures,” says Kickstarter. Of the 26,186 successfully funded projects, 21,271—over 80 percent—raised less than $10,000.
Most Projects on Kickstarter are Unsuccessful. There have been more unsuccessfully funded Kickstarter campaigns than successful ones. To be exact: 33,333 projects did not meet their goal. Only seven successfully funded projects raised more than $1 million. What does this say to a prospective crowdfunder? If you are looking for that level of funding or more, your organization is probably better off with the old-school gatekeepers, angel investors, and venture capitalists. Know your needs: Kickstarter is not for every organization.
The Five Most Successfully Funded Categories on Kickstarter. And now for a note of optimism. In 2012 there are already almost as many successfully funded projects—11,190—as in in all of 2011, which saw 11,836 successful pledges. Of those 26,186 projects funded ever funded, about 30 percent were Music-related. Film and Video was the second most successfully funded category on the three-year-old crowdfunding platform, at 6,683 projects meeting their goal. Art was the third most successfully funded category, at 2,632 projects funded. Theater, at 1,967 projects, is the fourth most successfully funded category (who knew?). Kickstarter, clearly, is an arts-friendly crowdfunding platform. Publishing, at 1,939 projects, rounds out the top five.
Since its launch three years ago, Kickstarter has moved beyond simply being a crowdfunding platform for creative projects. Tech entrepreneurs now use it as a test market for their products like a buzz barometer of customer mood. It is now the 800lb gorilla in the crowdfunding campaign room.
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