In this post, Levi wondered about the wisdom and ethics of pledging to your own Kickstarter campaign.
I have run across several other projects that may have performed this project-saving maneuver as well. JD Bender is amongst these projects.
Honestly, I could care less if he pledged to himself or had a close relationship do it for him (we’ll get into why later). Also, I have absolutely no way of confirming or denying who pledged and what their intention with their pledge was. Frankly, it’s none of my business.
But for sake of discussion, what about that idea that artists may pledge to themselves?
A review of JD’s Kicktraq.com Pledges & Backers Per Day tab does show that somebody pledged around $2,000 with a few days left to bump the project over its goal. (It is quite possible that this pledge is from someone interested in JD’s project.)
My question relating to a self-pledge is this: given your willingness to fund yourself, why would you even take this approach in the first place?
Set Your Kickstarter Goal Based On Reality
A realistic Kickstarter goal is really the congruence of two very important things: 1) What You Want and 2) What You Can Get.
What You Can Get has a lot to do with properly assessing your Circle of Influence; click here for an example.
What You Want, on the other hand, is really up to you.
You know what’s involved in this decision… Live versus studio, Strings versus synth, etc.
But just as important, what is your plan if What You Want may be more than What You Can Get?
I see three obvious answers here:
- Shoot for what you want anyways and if you fail then it’s back to the drawing board.
- Shoot for what you want anyways and if you have to, pledge the difference yourself.
- Devise a flex goal strategy. Set the official goal at a lower, more easily achievable amount in line with a scaled-back project. Set an unofficial, higher goal in line with the full-scale project. Do whichever project is funded OR fund the difference yourself and surprise your backers with the full-scale project anyways!
Do I even have to point out which one of these seems the smartest?
An Editorial On Self-Pledging
Kickstarter doesn’t allow you to pledge to yourself.
It’s likely some sort of fraud-protection mechanism, but when it comes to music, I honestly don’t get it.
Who exactly is the party that is being damaged by such a transaction?
Kickstarter certainly isn’t damaged; they get their cut!
The project creator isn’t being damaged; they go on with their project.
So, is the backer being damaged somehow? Not that I can tell.
The backer knowingly enters into an agreement with the creator much the same as any other transaction between buyer and seller in a marketplace. Nobody is forcing the backer into this agreement.
The backer presumably derives at least as much value out of the agreement as their pledge amount. If they aren’t, we are now violating a major tenet of Economics: the Laws of Supply and Demand.
Now get this… the only way the backer receives this value is if the project is actually funded!
So really, who is being hurt if a project creator kicks their funding over their goal? Nobody!
The way I see it, the only time somebody is hurt is the backers a failed project. They aren’t allowed to realize the value (likely excess value) of their pledge.
So, IMHO as an Economist, I say go to town, all you self-pledgers, and carry out your vision. Deliver it to those who care!
BETTER YET: Devise a flex goal strategy with 1) a lower, official goal and 2) a higher, unofficial, goal. Then if you come up short, fund the difference yourself and surprise your backers with the full-scale project anyways!