3 things to NOT do in your next Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign

Crowdfunding has opened up funding for some wonderful projects. But according to their own stats, the majority of Kickstarter projects fail. And a full 10% never raise any money.

How to stay out of the majority of crowdfunding campaigns

I'm going to show you three strategic tips that will help keep your crowdfunding campaign out of the majority that fail. To do that, I'm taking a page out of Tom Ahern's playbook. One of the best things about hearing Tom Ahern speak is his prolific use of real-life examples. When I received this email last week, I knew it would be perfect for an Ahern-like post.

Bad Crowdfunding Example - what not to do on kickstarter

The first 3 things that they got wrong (it's not Indiegogo's fault)

  1. Don’t send me the first email once it’s gone live

    Bad Crowdfunding Example - what not to do on indiegogo - start before the start

    Like I say in "Fundraising on the Web: It's more than just a birthday wish," successful online fundraising happens before the event! Like any fundraising event, you need to do a lot of prep work. There should be a committees or a project teams and lots of outreach. Make a list of "influencers," people who will be able to help get the word out. Let them become part of the the creation of the campaign. Let them own it.

    Take away: If you think someone is worth approaching for the campaign, chances are they're worth approaching before the campaign. If you're first contact is when the clock is ticking on your campaign, you've waited too long.

  2. Don’t ask me to push it out to my network on the first contact

    Bad Crowdfunding Example - what not to do on indiegogo - don't ask for my to use my network

    I don't know you but now you're saying you "know" I have a "great network"? Well, for your information, those people who seem like a group of strangers for you to exploit are actually my friends. My network is largely personal relationships that I've worked hard at cultivating. Now you are asking me to risk my reputation on something I know nothing about? That’s a no go.

    Take away: Don't try to use my friends. Get to know me first.

    In a recent Hangout with Creating the Future, Hildy Gottlieb shared the folks at StartSomeGood call these "PEERfunding campaigns" rather than crowdfunding. I love that. I wonder how this person would've changed her approach if she'd thought of my network as "my peers." And thought of me as a "peer." I think she'd have appealed to something like "your friends probably share these values too." I like to think I would've responded better.

  3. Don’t make me unsubscribe me from a list I didn’t sign up for!

    Bad Crowdfunding Example - what not to do on indiegogo - i never subscribed

    As if to prove that point that this isn't a personal message, despite my name being merged in the email, I learn at the bottom that I'm "subscribed" to a list I never signed up for!

    This is called spam. I can't stand this.

    Now I know I’m just one of the crowd. You don’t really care about me. You just care about getting your project in front of people I know. For all I know, everyone receiving this had the ego-stroking "your network is large" phrase.

    Take away: Be really careful about adding people to lists. If enough of them report your email as spam, you could have problems far larger than a failed crowdfunding...er "peerfunding"...campaign.

What do you think?

Those were my visceral reactions to receiving that Indiegogo campaign email. Do you think I'm overreacting?

What have your experiences been with fundraising on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or any other crowdfunding site?

For more information on successful crowdfunding, check out 6 Channels to Call in the Crowds to Your Crowdfunding Campaign.

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to https://fundraisingcoach.com/21-ways/


  1. Marc,

    Your viscera are probably justified based on the approach. I wonder, however, if you were approached earlier in the process, would your ultimate decision not to pimp your network have been different or would you have just come to that decision in a gentler way?

    This, for me, just well illustrates that "crowd-funding" is, as you say, peer funding and not truly crowd-funding. The model may not be flawed but the modus certainly is. For cause-based efforts, these platforms only seem to work when you are able to port your pre-formed following from one network onto one of the canned platforms. Then the platform skims a transaction fee from your network.

    I have seen some efforts trying (but not yet succeeding) to introduce roving (virtual) crowds to new causes (see e.g. hopemob.org) but platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are not doing that.


    • Thanks, Steve.

      I love the way you word it. Reading your comment, I got the sense that it's almost like this ED is wanting me to take my friends from the pub we hang out at and go to a coffee shop.

      That's not going to happen.

      But if she got to know us a bit at the pub, it's more likely that at least some of us would join her for coffee.

What would you add?