I’m a firm believer in bringing your own crowd to Kickstarter. Kickstarter will help boost your signal, but they’re not going to supply all of the backers that you need to fund and they’re a bit overzealous in the referrals they credit to themselves. I feel the same way about Pledge Managers. They all make you money because you’re pointing all of your fans/backers at it post campaign. When it comes to picking a pledge manager, I generally recommend you go with the cheapest option that has the features you need. If you don’t have a bunch of add-ons or complicated shipping waves, that means every PM will have you covered, but how much money can you expect your pledge manager to bring in?
If you have a straight forward project with simple pledge levels and no add-ons or extras, your pledge manager will charge for shipping and taxes on each person’s pledge and then collect some late pledges. The shipping/tax part of this is pretty easy to anticipate. If you’re charging $10 to ship per pledge and you have 500 backers at that pledge level, well there’s $5000. I think everyone gets that its pretty easy to estimate how much money this part is going to bring in. Remember that technically, you’ll be charged 3% credit card fees + pledge manager fees on any revenue you bring in.
Late Pledges / Upgrades
I’m constantly looking at ways that we can better estimate and budget for our Kickstater campaigns. This lead me to taking a look at the revenue of each pledge manager for each Kickstarter campaign we’ve ever done. Now take all of this with a grain of salt since each campaign was very different raising vastly different amounts, charging different shipping based on the product weight and having different options in the pledge manager… so it’s very hard to estimate how much a pledge manager will make you exactly. Here are some of my findings:
The Average Percentage of Kickstarter funds raised in a Pledge Manager across all 11 of our projects was 39%. That means if we raise $100k on KS we can expect to collect about $39k in a pledge manager (this includes all late pledges, upgrades, add-ons, and shipping etc). Our lowest was our first project (7%) which charged shipping on Kickstarter (something I’ve never done since) and our highest was our most recent Swords of the Coin campaign (59%) which has a decent number of add-ons. Taking out these two extremes still yields an average of 40%, so realistically I think a range of 20-50% is a reasonable range assuming you’re charging shipping post campaign. Obviously the more add-ons and upsells you have the higher you will be in that range.
Unfortunately, I’ve used a variety of pledge managers and can’t easily separate shipping revenue from late pledges, upgrades and other extra sales. The average % of late pledges/extra sales based on Kickstarter funds raised was 20%. That means if we raise $100k on Kickstarter we can expect to raise an additional $20k in late pledges, upgrades and other sales. An important thing to note on this piece is that this percentage seems positively correlated to the funds raised on Kickstarter and the number of add-ons/upsells offered. The more we raised on Kickstarter, the larger the percentage of funds we raised in late pledges/upgrades post campaign. This supports the age old saying, “success breeds success.”
The percentage of revenue that our Pledge Manager generated of our total revenue for the project ranged from 7% to 43% for an average of 27%. This percentage was the same after adjusting for campaigns where we charged shipping in Kickstarter. Moving forward, I think I will generally assume that ~25% of our total revenue for a campaign will come from our pledge manager.
Hopefully some of these findings will aid you in your crowdfunding campaigns. If you absolutely need $20k to deliver your project, you could set your funding goal on Kickstarter to be $15k. Furthermore, if you’ve just finished a Kickstarter and are looking at which Pledge Manager to use, you could reasonable estimate another 20% raised in upgrades and late pledges. Then you can use our pricing calculator to estimate the price of each pledge manager and make an informed decision.
Anyways, I hope this helps the other creators out there. How much extra funds are you raising in your projects pledge managers?