Mind the Gap: Kickstarter Funding Trends
Every crowd funding project is a unique and beautiful snowflake, full of the creator’s ardent belief that they will buck the odds, triumph, and succeed in their dream. Every project creator has different assets, skill sets, and experience to assist them in making the most of their short funding window. Some have wonderful art assets to dazzle potential backers, others have social networks that are both wide and deep or an idea that was born to go viral, and a few even have the money necessary to buy advertising, hoping to turn a small investment into a big idea.
But if every creator is so different, then why do the funding curves for so many projects look so similar. If possibilities are limitless, then why are are the results cast in so few molds?
Allow me to preface this part by telling you about the helpful Kickstarter analytics site: Kicktraq and their associated widget (it’s where I get all the graphs I show below.) It tracks a variety of daily metrics (backers, pledges, trends) from every active project, and displays them in an intuitive format to allow a deeper understanding of any given project, and it’s trajectory at a glance. I have found it to be an invaluable resource.
Using these tools, combined with the mighty power of too much free time, I have had a chance to comb through dozens or hundreds of projects in search of patterns. Results on that search, and my conclusions are listed below:
The above graph is what I would say is the most typical kind of progress for a normal project. A great deal of progress is made at the beginning and the end, but the middle of the project is flat or nearly so. Just as Kickstarter says, the longer a project is, the more the lack of enthusiasm can threaten it’s success. The majority of the money in so many projects is made in a week or ten days; in this case 70% of the funding is achieved in 30% of the days – practically a textbook example of the Pareto principle.
In both of these patterns, you can see many of the same characteristics, though to a lesser degree. I find that this more uniform flatness, or an effort to catch up when it is too late is a common characteristic. You will however notice that the final spike in the case occurs at the 48 hour point. One feature built into Kickstarter is the ability to click “Remind me.” So anyone that was interested enough in your project to sign themselves up for a one time notification will have the opportunity to come give you their money. 48 hour spikes are not at all uncommon for this reason.
On the other hand, in cases where the project is wildly successful, the money never seems to stop. Each day one happy backer tells another friend that might be interested, and the result is a near constant upward trajectory. Notice in this particular example how significantly the trend line trounced the goal line. Many of the high-profile successes are examples of this pattern, but not all. The 3.5 million dollar reaper campaign, even with the very large numbers involved, still adhered to a much more typical funding pattern, gaining half of its total haul in the final week of the campaign.
What do you think? What is the best way to eliminate the dead zone that plagues so many projects?