3 Ways to Manage Pledges After Your Campaign Ends
After you’ve marketed your project, attracted a flood of backers, and reached your funding goal, the real fun starts: fulfilling your backers’ rewards!
Every pledge you accept is a promise to a backer who believed in your vision. In order to fulfill those promises, you need to keep track of all your pledges.
Timely and accurate delivery of your rewards will lead to happy backers. Mistakes will lead to disputes, returns, and delays — wasting time, money, and trust.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to manage pledges once your campaign ends.
- Kickstarter survey
- Third-party pledge managers
We’ll give you a basic breakdown of each, but first, keep the following considerations in mind. These factors will help you decide what method is best for you.
- The complexity of your project and reward tiers
- Your budget
- Whether or not you’re selling add-ons
- If you’d like to be able to upgrade backers to higher pledge levels
- How much time you have to manage pledges
- Whether or not you have an eCommerce store or plan to open one after your campaign
We’ve listed the methods in order of most simple to most comprehensive. It’s likely that the more complex your project is, the more you’ll need extended functionality.
It is possible to use spreadsheet software like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to keep track of all your backers' pledges.
Kickstarter allows you to export your backer data as a CSV file after they’ve pledged, which you can then open and manage in a spreadsheet.
This is the least-expensive option, but can get messy quickly. It will probably be a challenge to coordinate sizes, colors, shipment addresses, payment info, and more with a few hundred backers who are constantly asking questions, changing orders, and checking on their reward status. Mistakes will likely result in losing money — and backers’ confidence — over returns and disputes.
You can also be liable if you don’t protect your backers' personal information, so make sure any computer and software you use is protected from cyber security threats.
You’ll also want to make sure you keep back ups of all this information. If something goes wrong and you lose some or all of the data, you’ll probably have to pull some late nights sending out hundreds of emails to collect it again.
Another consideration is whether or not you plan to sell add-ons. It’s possible to do this with a spreadsheet and a personal payment account like PayPal, but it’s not always the best experience for your backers.
It would involve emailing or posting a project update with a list of items that backers can add to their order along with associated prices. You’d then have to ask your backers to transfer you funds for the exact amount of the add-ons they wish to purchase. This can get messy too, as it can be awkward to reach out to backers and ask them to pay more if they didn’t add everything up correctly.
You’d also have to verify the transfer with the backer’s order, add it to your spreadsheet, and do math of your own to make sure they sent you the right amount of money.
This method can also make it harder to actually sell any add-ons because it’s not as simple as adding a product to an order with one click. Making a note of what they want and logging into PayPal is all pretty inconvenient, especially if they have to create a PayPal account.
And then other complications can arise. What if the email they use for PayPal is different than the one they used on Kickstarter? You might have a hard time matching up backers with their add-ons and verifying who actually paid you.
You also have to figure out shipping logistics, and decide how you’re going to charge for add-ons. Will you charge a flat rate? Cover shipping costs yourself? Get them to add shipping costs to the PayPal transfer?
Then if your add-ons have any variations, you’ll have to further communicate with backers about their preference in sizes, colors, and so on.
This can be quite a headache for both yourself and your backers, so spreadsheets should really only be considered if your reward offering is super simple, you’re not expecting many backers, and you don’t want to sell add-ons or upgrade backers to higher tiers.
In short: While it’s the most affordable option, it will only be effective if your reward offering is simple (one or two tiers) and you're expecting a relatively low number of backers.
Kickstarter’s survey is one backers are familiar with, so it will be quick and easy for most users. Unless they’re first-timers, Kickstarter already has their address and credit card info, so backers can usually confirm their pledge with a single click.
Backers, especially more experienced ones, will know where to find their survey data through their Kickstarter account.
Plus, as a creator, it’s fairly easy to set up. Once you’ve collected all the info you need from your backers, it lets you export all of that data into a CSV and share it with your fulfillment partners or any other relevant parties.
But there are some challenges you might face with Kickstarter’s survey.
It can make it difficult for backers to see exactly what they pledged and if they signed up for any add-ons. Backers can’t add more items to their order with Kickstarter’s survey, meaning that as a creator you’re potentially missing out on revenue.
You also can’t add survey questions that are optional or conditional, so backers are required to give a response to some questions even if they’re not relevant, which can cause confusion.
You also won’t be able to adjust shipping costs from the estimated cost pledged during the campaign, so if you discover any differences down the line you’ll have to contact backers or pay additional costs yourself. In fact, you can’t edit survey responses at all, so it can be difficult to record any changes backers make to their orders.
Plus in some cases, Kickstarter’s fees can be higher than those charged by third party pledge managers.
In short: Kickstarter’s native survey is a good option if your project is simple and you don’t want to sell many add-ons or upgrades during the survey process.
Third-Party Pledge Manager
This is the most comprehensive option, allowing you to create a custom survey, manage pledges without having to create additional spreadsheets, and up-sell add-ons to backers or upgrade them to higher reward tiers.
However, pledge managers come with an additional cost, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve accounted for it in your budget, and maybe even price your reward tier to help pay for it.
Another potential downside is that backers have to enter their shipping address and payment information again, whereas Kickstarter will already have that info if they’re a repeat backer.
While it involves a more hands-on and lengthy setup process, it’s worth it for more complex projects, saving you time in the long run. Just make sure you schedule that time investment into your plan.
The customization that pledge managers give you makes it a lot easier to track pledges and help you ensure backers pledged the correct amount. You can charge backers if they underpaid, or give them credit if they overpaid.
You can also more easily adjust how much you charge for shipping — and charge more accurately.
It also shows backers exactly what they paid for during the campaign. In many cases, backers have pledged weeks before, so it’s common for them to need a refresher.
But the biggest strength of third-party pledge managers is that they allow backers to purchase add-ons or upgrade to a higher reward tier after your campaign is over.
This also gives you the option to keep reward tiers simple during the campaign and then get into the details during the survey and show backers the rewards they might be missing out on, or new add-ons you’ve come up with. You can even give your “support” backers who pledged without a reward the opportunity to upgrade to a reward tier.
You also get all your backers, even the support backers, synced into the pledge manager for future marketing initiatives.
Bonus perk for creators with eCommerce stores
If you have an eCommerce store, you can add the rewards to your store’s inventory and use Kickbooster’s Pledge Manager to leverage all your regular providers and processes. This can eliminate a lot of extra work and stress.
Kickbooster’s Pledge Manager integrates directly with your eCommerce store so you can manage your backers' pledges like you would regular orders, and use all of your regular service providers. When backers complete your survey, it automatically creates an order on your store, saving you a lot of time.
If you don’t have an eCommerce store but were planning to set one up after your campaign, Kickbooster’s Pledge Manager could still be a great choice for you. You can use your eCommerce platform’s expert directory or app store to pick services (like 3PLs and more) and optimize all the work that goes into fulfilling your backers' pledges.
Some basic criteria to help you decide how to manage your pledges:
Go with spreadsheets or Kickstarter’s survey if you:
- Have simple reward tiers
- Don’t need to collect a lot of info (different product specifications like size, color, and so on)
- Expect a relatively low number of backers
- Don’t want to sell add-ons
A 3rd-party pledge manager is probably a better fit if you:
- Offer multiple reward tiers with options
- Want to customize the survey to accurately collect all the information you need
- Want to sell add-ons after the campaign
- Want to try upgrading backers to higher tiers after the campaign
- Are expecting a lot of backers (more than you could manage manually on a spreadsheet)
- Are offering shipping to many countries and want to account for variance in shipping costs
- Want to allow your backers the option edit addresses right until you’re ready to fulfill
- Want to wait until you’re closer to fulfilling to capture payment from your backers
If you decide to go with a pledge manager, we’d love to help. Fill out the form below to receive a demo of Kickbooster’s Pledge Manager!