Why my $5 Kickstarter pledge was a great investment

By | 2016-11-04T16:57:33+00:00 July 1, 2014|Insights, Viewpoints|

My exposure to sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo was limited to seeing some random posts on Facebook.  So I recently went to investigate why anyone would randomly give his or her money away.

I found myself on the Reading Rainbow Kickstarter project, read the info, watched the video and looked through the infographics. After reminiscing about the show, the opening music and LeVar Burton, who I considered my TV friend, I felt compelled to give at least a little. So I pledged $5.

I then started looking at other Kickstarter projects, and was really impressed with some of the proposals and how information was presented. I started to recognize good practices around managing information and thought about how we could work to incorporate these practices into our everyday work lives.

  1. Be concise: Kickstarter starts with list of pictures, titles, descriptions and funding status on a list of projects. When you drill down into the project, the owner has only a few seconds to engage the audience, convince them to invest time, attention, and money to a cause. In the work we do every day, particularly communications that are meant to be quick, such as emails, it’s imperative that we be concise. Our audience does not have time to read a novel—be direct and let them know what you need right from the start.
  2. Do research and create a well thought-out proposal: Kickstarter owners cannot afford an ongoing debate of how their project is going to be run. They are presenting their proposal and need to ensure concerns are covered up front. “Here are all the facts, are you in?” In our jobs, coming to a meeting well-prepared with comprehensive ideas gives others a starting place on which to build, or even something to accept, as is. Taking the time to scrutinize your own work pays off in your ability to address any concerns with immediate solutions or a well thought-out response.
  3. Transparency: Whether you are investing $1, or $1000, Kickstarter let’s you know what you are getting for your pledge. You might be getting a sticker, a prototype product, or just a thank-you in return for your pledge. There are also details on where the total money goes in the form of a road map of financial milestones showing what can be done with more funds. If the Reading Rainbow project were just short of a major milestone as they approached their deadline, I’d be willing to put in a few more bucks. Regularly practicing transparency in our jobs can go a long way to ensuring efficiencies. Having detailed estimates on what we can and cannot do sets expectations up front and provides a framework around project scope.
  4. Communication history: Every few days, I receive an email about the Kickstarter project including added milestones, new considerations and general updates. Once the pledging period has ended, these projects will keep providing updates so you continue to see progress. You can always go back to the Kickstarter page to view the whole history of updates. As we work on our ongoing projects, keeping an organized, documented communication history of a project is a good resource for anyone who might be new to a project, or just needs a refresher on how we got to where we are.

Seeing these ideas in practice across different verticals, size/scale, and business models gave me back so much more than I expected for my $5 pledge. I recommend you have a look at Kickstarter, and maybe send the Reading Rainbow gang some assistance on their mission.

About the Author:

Ted Shimizu
VP, Digital Standards and Operations

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