Selecting desirable perks is such an important piece of the puzzle in crowdfunding. Yet what makes a good perk is still too little understood. Maybe that should not be so surprising, considering that perks are only fulfilled post-campaign—sometimes way, way after—when the spotlight is no longer trained on the project, and the project creators have already collected their money.
If there were a way to find out how many donors were actually happy with their gift would you, Future Creator, want to know? Think of all the benefits project creators garner from a campaign: exposure, market testing, and customer acquisition, just to name a few.
Another key benefit is feedback. But this should be a two-way street. While the project creator takes a long satisfied pull on a cigarette, awash in the afterglow of your love, trust and attention, have you, Donor, been left to unwrap your gift alone, chilled and thinking, That’s it?
New York magazine ran an interesting story in its April 1 issue. It featured several high-profile campaigns and what they were offering as perks. Since the project creators were celebrities, many included intimate, elbow-rubbing rewards. Here are two:
Project: Anomalisa, Charlie Kaufman’s stop-motion animation film
Perk: Boozing with the film’s executive producers
Project: Extreme Realities, a documentary about climate change narrated by Matt Damon
Perk: A chance to attend a voice-over session
As most of the featured campaigns were still running, many of the perks had not yet been claimed. Of two campaigns that were complete New York solicited the feedback of the recipients. Was it worth it? The response was fifty-fifty.
For the 19-year-old whose parents peeled off a cool $5000 to “party with Amanda Palmer,” there were only trifling complaints. Palmer brought her own piano, performed heretofore-unheard new material, and lay on the young man’s stomach as she accommodatingly signed partiers’ phones. It seems it was worth it. “I couldn’t even think straight when she was near me,” was the teen’s exact quote.
But for a young filmmaker the arrangement turned out to be not so cozy. He liberated himself of $500 to back “The Canyons,” a film by Brett Easton Ellis, in return for tweets to Ellis’s 300,000 followers promoting the backer’s film. “The Twitter mentions did absolutely nothing for our film, not so much as a teeny-weeny bump,” he lamented.
Chances are if you’re reading this you are not a celebrity and therefore you think the discussion here does not apply to you. I disagree. No matter your status, your crowdfunding campaign is still an actual transaction between you and your trusting donors to whom you will owe your book, your film, your newfound fortunes, big and small. The perks you choose should be done thoughtfully, not regurgitated from something you saw elsewhere and therefore must be fine. If they expose shoddy thinking or appear to fan your over-inflated sense of importance, even unwittingly so, you need to know.
And that’s the real point. To be quite fair, you probably don’t even know that your perks make you sound like an ingrate. Not only would a feedback button be a way, Future Donor, for you to get your needs met. It would be a great tool for you, Future Creator, to get a sense of how the crowd defines value, and then give you the opportunity to course-correct.
Feedback for all!