*English version of sample blog entry

Today I want to write about “supporters’ community” which is established through the process of Kickstarter.

It is often said that Kickstarter not only helps raise funds, but also creates a fan community of people who support the projects. And that it is also important for project owners to create a strong community during his/her project period.

So what is this “community” that is unique to Kickstarter or other crowd funding services?

Even if it’s a successful project…

The Art of Community - The New Community Rules
The Art of Community – The New Community Rules / luc legay
While thinking what a “community” is, I realized that aside from the differences of successful projects and unsuccessful projects, there must be some differences between “successful projects that barely reached its goal” and “successful projects that reached its goal by large” as well.

When I observed the trend of each project, especially ones that are “Ending soon”, there seems to be number of projects which reach its goal at the very last minute.
According to the entry below, only 20 percent of the projects have succeeded (reached 100 percent of its goal) five days before the deadline, but that percentage rapidly rises to 50 percent one or two days before the deadline.

Kickstarter Data Analysis: Success and pricing(04/25/2011)

This is probably because project owners are trying extremely hard to meet its goal in order to not waste the funds contributed up till then.
Miao Wang who raised funds for her film through Kickstarter, actually mentioned in her blog that she intentionally set a high goal thinking, “If I don’t meet my goal a day before the deadline, I’ll borrow money from my family to fill in the gap.”

I suppose there are many people like her. I would probably do the same actually.

On the other hand, there are project which achieve its goal before the deadline with no need to make these efforts. (Projects I’ve introduced in my blog all fit into these)
They probably didn’t need to plead to their family or friends or in worst cases pay out of their own pockets.

What I’m trying to say is… “Successful project of Kickstarter” can be categorized into; those who meet their goal by large and those who barely meet the goal. And for latter projects, they were able to make the most of Kickstarter as a fund raising platform, but they probably failed in creating a “community.”

Difference between “big” successful projects and “small” successful projects

To prove my point, I went back to the projects data (as of July 2011) of those in the “Recommended” category in the “Fine Arts” section. The time period and category is limited, and its data is something I took out by myself, so it may not fit into all projects, but we may see some trends.

In July 2011, the number of successful projects in above category was 22 and the number of unsuccessful projects was 5.
Within the successful ones, I’ve categorized the 7 projects which reached 150 percent of its goal as “big” successful projects, and 15 projects which were below 150 percent as “small” successful projects.

The comparison of big/small successful projects and unsuccessful projects are as follows:

The comparison of projects
Big successful Small successful Unsuccessful
Av. Supporter 174 88 45
% of repeaters 58% 44% 38%
$ per person $73 $81 $65
% of purchase 90% 80% 63%
Av. “Like” 808 259 236

As I’ve said before, this is not an accurate data but the numbers clearly proves my theory.

First, number of supporters. As you can see, successful projects have more supporters.

Next, percentage of repeaters. The larger the success is the rate of people who have funded a project with Kickstarter before, increases. And there is high possibility that those people do not know the project owner personally.

Let’s go on to percentage of purchase. I’ve mentioned about purchases in my previous entry “Kickstarter – Its uniqueness; looking from successful/unsuccessful project data” so you could also refer to that, but as you can see, for successful projects, more people are supporting the project by “purchasing the return” rather than “pure donation.”

And though some people may not have funded the project, we can see that the number of “Like” increases remarkably for “big” successful projects.

Lastly, I want to focus on funded amount per person.

For this item, the amount of “small” successful projects beats that of “big” successful projects. What does this mean?

If you look at it with the number of supporters, you can see that for “big” successful projects, large numbers of people are funding small amounts.
And if we take the percentage of repeaters into account, we could “sort of” lead to a conclusion that…
“Veteran supporters (Kickstarter fans), who do not know the project owners personally, are responding to the project and supporting them with small amounts.”

From this I think we can vaguely say that these kinds of projects tend to succeed more with Kickstarter… right?

So to simplify it very roughly…

Small amount x Large number of people > Large amount x Small number of people

(Of course “Large amount x Large number of people” is better and I’m sure there are projects like that, but I just want to make things more interesting…)

Up till now, it has been thought that the most effective way to raise funds is to collect large amounts from small number of people, but it seems that it is the other way around with Kickstarter projects.

I believe that this is where “strong community” begins and where uniqueness and potential of crowd funding service lies. I’d like to keep that theory in mind for a while.

Platform like Kickstarter which specializes in a certain service is of course attractive, but I think that users feel more affinity towards sites like Facebook where a community already exists. This leads to the comment I’ve written before – that Kickstarter may be a niche service but psychologically it is very universal. (But I still haven’t reached any conclusion yet)
I really would like to take some time to think about this theme.

*1 People who funded the project for the first time = I’ve made an assumption that people who funded the project for the first time consist of many friends and relatives of the project owner, and most of the people who have funded a project more than twice have interest in Kickstarter itself.