16 December 2014

Two thoughts on Kickstarter

My campaign for the 2015 Water Smarts Calendar is going well, with about 70 80 percent pledged so far. I'm hoping that we hit the target -- and the stretch goals (to lower the cost per calendar) before 31 December.

I am using Kickstarter for a few reasons. First, I like its "all or nothing" system of building support, since nobody pays until enough people pledge. Second, I like the way it allows people to pledge different amounts according to their interest and situation. Those two aspects bring up two related issues.

First, what about the 60 percent of projects that fall short of their funding target? Perhaps there are lessons to learn from failure? Tim Hartford points out [gated] that we may be biased if we only pay attention to success (e.g., $55,000 raised to make potato salad). Kickended gives you instant access to thousands of failures.

Second, I am keenly aware of the difference between $5 and $100 pledges. It seems easier -- and may be easier -- to raise $100 from one person than $5 from 20 people. I'd prefer a broad base of support, but limited time makes it hard for me to lobby more people. I now understand more about why politicians go for big donors -- and why politicians who do so should not claim to represent "the people." I'm not worried about "undue influence" for the water calendar (given it's a single product rather than a set of policy choices), but I would really love to send hundreds of these calendars out to a growing base of people who want to know more, rather than to a few who are already committed to knowing and acting...

Bottom Line: Feel free to pledge :)... It's $5 for the PDF calendar or $20 for the paper calendar (delivered to US, $5 more for EU)

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