Saturday, July 23, 2011

money in the 21st century fundraiser

more lessons from kickstarter

so i saw a predicition sometime last week that within 10 years that wallets will be obsolete. now i can see this as possible because i use applications that securely fill in my data on webforms, but PayPal is not what this post is solely about. we will get back to them in a few moments.

an interesting flaw appeared in our Kickstarter campaign this past 6 weeks. Kickstarter contracts through Amazon Payments to do the accounting on the pledges. i haven't looked into who runs Kickstarter and their attachment to Amazon, but it is an issue. Amazon Payments only takes 'credit cards', now i know the saturation of the Visa and MC brands are extensive and it is rare to find someone without at least a debit card without that sanctification. i found out, though, that i have a close friend who doesn't participate in that, and it got me to think that Amazon needs to figure out some more ways to collect money.

Amazon Payments require linkage to a U.S. bank, creating another barrier also. additionally, you must make an account on Kickstarter to pledge. these points actually put up a barrier for a few more friends and family members who didn't or didn't want to grok the web interface. we considered taking donations from people who couldn't participate for whatever reason and then apply them to the campaign from our account, but this is an issue too. it is a violation of the TOS to donate to your own cause. so you have to go find someone to do it for you, complicating the process even further.

this all is a huge deficit in the system. i actually think that we lost a few hundred dollars because of these inherent prejudices and hurdles. last week i found a open source laser cutter, Lasersaur, that is collecting donations like Kickstarter campaign, but through PayPal on their own webpage. the downside is that you lose the high profile visibility of Kickstarter with it's very involved community and all the easy buttons to plug into the other social media.

i have come to the conclusion that a fundraiser needs to be a two prong attack where you do both. you really should be trying to funnel as many people as you can through Kickstarter to take advantage of the trendy high profile nature of the platform (and the all or nothing nature of the pledge model). additionally, you need a side channel. ideally, a close friend who can collect through PayPal for you and that can make a deposit in Kickstarter for you in the case you get pressed to the wall for for your goal, which is probably a TOS violation, but what can you do other than handle it discretely.

and you definitely need a PayPal donation page immediately after the campaign closes because less than 12hours from when we closed our campaign we started having 'knocks on the door' to still participate. ah i love the procrastinators.

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