In previous posts about crowdfunding, we’ve spoken more specifically about self-publishing endeavors, but today we want to talk about the practice more generally. In particular, we want to talk about the role of trust in the overall success of a campaign.
Crowdfunding has revolutionized the lives of many creative types. From game designers to artists to authors, crowdfunding brings an exciting way to develop products while reducing the overall risk necessary to do so. However, a successful campaign, at it’s core, requires trust. Trust between the person running the campaign and the backers. Trust between the producers and the campaign runners.
When funding a project, your backers assume that you’ve done your research. They assume that you’ve set a schedule for production, writing, editing, and fulfillment. They assume that you’ve carefully budgeted for everything.
When funding a project, your backers assume that your freelancers, partners, and distributors are well-vetted and prepared for the workload – especially if your project ignites and becomes more successful than originally anticipated.
When funding a project, your backers assume that they are going to get what you promised them – even if that thing was only an idea when you launched your campaign.
There are projects, of course, that fall apart. Kickstarters that, despite exceeding their goals, don’t deliver on their promises. Mishandled funds, unexpected consequences of external events, poor planning, and more can cause a successful project to fail to deliver.
At the core of these failures is the fact that crowdfunding takes people who have really cool ideas… and – whether or not they have any business savvy – makes them business owners instantly. There’s no IndieGogo requirement that you consult with an experienced entrepreneur before launching your project. You’re expected to have done your due diligence before the campaign goes live, preparing yourself for what happens if and when you find yourself flush with cash.
So, how can you foster a trusting relationship between you and your prospective backers? Two key tactics:
First, invest yourself in your project before it launches. This means doing a lot of work before even drafting your proposal, but remember you’re trying to start a business! Know how much money you actually need. Ask questions. Get estimates. Be realistic. This may mean saying, “My project isn’t feasible,” or finding a way to curtail your project to fit within a realistic financial goal. Doing all your homework ahead of time reduces the chances that you’ll see things fall apart later.
Second, commit yourself to transparency and communication. Rob Donoghue, game designer and business analyst, puts it best, “Regular communication. Communication that feels like backers are on the inside, not just customers.” Because your backers are funding your project, they deserve to be in the know. They’re your investors and you should be ready, able, and willing to share the ups and downs of your project with them. If you hit a snag, tell them immediately and let them know how it has affected your estimated delivery dates.
Planning a crowdfunding project? How are you planning to garner the trust of your prospective backers?