Kickstarter cofounder Yancey Strickler recently took to the Kickstarter blog to express his concern over the ever-increasing use of stretch goals in rewards-based crowdfunding.
Stretch goals are funding goals set outside the scope of the primary funding goal. For example, a video game might have a goal of raising $150,000. However, perhaps the developer has also promised to integrate a new level or character at $250,000 and $350,000. The last two goals would be considered stretch goals.
In a post entitled “Think Before You Stretch,” Strickler explains that scope is key to any crowdfunded project, and stretch goals tend to distort the project scope in a way that puts early backers at a disadvantage.
Over time we’ve seen a growing number of creators adding “stretch goals” — unofficial targets beyond a project’s funding goal, with promises of new rewards or other incentives if they are reached. Stretch goals are seen as a way to keep pledges coming in after a project’s funding goal has been reached. But are stretch goals a good idea?
All-or-nothing funding is simple and clear: a project has a single goal, and backers support the project in its pursuit of that goal. Stretch goals muddy the waters. What if someone got in early and helped a project reach its funding goal, but now the creator is focused on stretch goals? What if someone backs a project for a stretch goal-related reward, and that goal isn’t met? Both are bad experiences for backers.
For a typical stretch goal a creator will promise to release their game in additional formats or add extra functions if certain funding goals are hit. But expanding a project’s scope can change the creative vision and put the whole project at risk. We’ve seen stretch goals leave some projects overwhelmed, over-budget, and behind schedule.