In 2020, despite the struggles everyone was experiencing during the pandemic, creators remained motivated and demonstrated an impressive level of resilience. This year, we’re seeing the same sort of perseverance from this community. In addition to the pandemic, we’re now in the middle of the Great Supply Chain Disruption. There are global manufacturing and shipping delays, and it’s forcing many creators to adjust their timelines. But the crowdfunding community is adapting. Once again, projects are being launched and creators are trying to provide the best experience possible for their backers. (This update from Tiny Treehouses’ Lars Christian is a great example of how creators are explaining the issues they’re facing and setting expectations for backers.)
Everyone at BackerKit has been working hard this year to help creators and backers through all of this. We develop tools and resources that simplify the crowdfunding process so that it’s easier to manage the inevitable surprises — especially during times like these. This year we’ve worked with 1,528,163 backers and 1,694 creators, helping them raise $332,915,515. We hit a major milestone: as of July 2021, we’ve served more than 10,000 Pledge Manager projects. We also added 13 people to our team to ensure that we’re able to deliver the highest level of customer support and product offerings that meet creators’ ever-evolving needs.
We’re happy to have the opportunity to connect with and assist so many amazing people in the crowdfunding community. As we reflect on 2021, we want to thank you all for your creativity and passion and for keeping us all inspired throughout the year.
We began last year unsure of how the pandemic would affect crowdfunding. And while the community faced unprecedented challenges as factories temporarily shut down and in-person events were canceled, creators still launched projects and backers were still showing up — month after month, pledges were often tacking above the 2019 average. This year, crowdfunding is still holding strong and, as a whole, actually thriving, despite world events.
The orange line in the graph below shows the total number of pledges raised across all project categories since May 2021. The dotted goal line is the average funds raised in 2019. This is the second year that we’ve seen performance trending above that pre-pandemic average.
BackerKit product updates and news
This has been a big year at BackerKit. The team grew, we forged new relationships with our crowdfunding industry friends, and we updated our Pledge Manager pricing structure. As always, every new development was guided by the continuous feedback and input that we received from our customers.
The pandemic forced our Product team to adjust how they collaborate with each other, as Senior Developer Lillie Chilen explains in “How Experimentation Kept Us Shipping Code and Growing Through a Pandemic.” But we continued to release new customer-driven updates to BackerKit Launch, Marketing, and Pledge Manager. Here are a few that we are especially proud of:
- BackerKit supports Kickstarter add-ons: When your project is over, BackerKit looks at all of the add-ons purchased by backers and creates those add-ons inside of BackerKit at the same price. It then places those add-ons into backers’ carts.
- New tax options: Add-ons can now be marked as taxable or non-taxable, and taxes can be applied to shipping. These two updates will allow for more flexibility when using BackerKit’s tax features and make it easier to collect VAT.
- Charge shipping closer to fulfillment: Not sure what to charge for shipping yet? No problem! BackerKit’s new beta feature allows creators to send surveys and charge for add-ons, upgrades, and taxes upfront, and charge for shipping closer to fulfillment when they have a better idea on price. Reach out to our team to try it out!
- State-based shipping: It’s easier than ever to charge for shipping. Creators can now set up different shipping rates by state in addition to countries.
- Start building your email list: Every creator should spend time growing their community before their campaign starts. That work is now easier than ever with Launch landing pages. Creators can create a landing page solely to collect email contacts.
Check out the BackerKit Product Update page to see what else we worked on in 2021.
We were very excited this year to announce a pricing update that was instituted to make BackerKit Pledge Manager more affordable for more creators. Our tools are valuable for projects of all shapes and sizes, so it was important for us to make sure that those tools are accessible to anyone.
In July, we celebrated serving 10,000 Pledge Manager projects. When BackerKit launched in 2012, we were just a two-person team with a belief in the power of pledge management for crowdfunding campaigns. Now, nine years later, our Pledge Manager is an essential tool for more and more creators. We are honored to have worked with so many incredible creators over the years and look forward to serving the next 10,000.
In August, BackerKit became the exclusive crowdfunding pledge manager for CMON — a trailblazing miniatures and board game publisher. CMON is Kickstarter’s most-funded creator, having raised nearly $100 million. They were one of the first companies to use an in-house aftermarket pledge manager, but were looking for a new platform that would allow them to shift their resources and focus on delivering the best games to their fans. We are thrilled to be able to help CMON bring those games to Kickstarter.
Supporting the crowdfunding community
We love connecting with creators, and after a year of lockdown, it was nice to be able to attend conventions again. We went to PAX Unplugged where we had a great time meeting some of you!
We also developed new content to help creators — especially those who are just starting out — and forged new partnerships that will allow us to deliver the most comprehensive educational resources possible. In addition to that, we’ve continued the work we began in 2020, showcasing Black-led projects and creators from underrepresented communities.
Launch Studio joins the BackerKit team
In December, we welcomed Launch Studio to the BackerKit team. Founded by Julio Terra and Daniel Mascarenhas, Launch Studio is a Kickstarter Masterclass built for design and technology crowdfunding creators. Both BackerKit and Launch Studio have been focused on providing creators with the tools and educational resources needed to launch successful campaigns. And now that we’ve teamed up, we’re better equipped to do this work.
We want to make sure that everyone has the resources they need throughout their crowdfunding experience. So we’re excited to start working together in 2022 to develop and refine our offerings and see more successful launches in 2022 and beyond.
The Creative Fund and the Black Creators Newsletter
The Creative Fund was established by BackerKit to make space for creators and encourage the passion that makes crowdfunding so great. This year, we decided to refocus. In theory, crowdfunding should put everyone on equal footing — anyone has the opportunity to bring their idea to life. However, we noticed a lack of diversity in the community and are dedicated to helping change this. We are now making larger pledges to Black-led campaigns every month in addition to the $1 pledge that we make to all Kickstarter projects through the Creative Fund. We’ve donated a total of $20,265 this year.
We also send out the Black Creators Newsletter — a bi-monthly newsletter highlighting Black-led projects. This year, we’ve sent 25 of these newsletters. Successful projects that have been featured include, the basketball board game Hoop Godz, Eight Seconds: A Photobook About Black Cowboys, and the web series Colored Girl Chronicles.
We crafted a new space for tabletop game creators to get the education and resources they need to successfully crowdfund their games throughout key stages, including ideation, community-building, prototyping, playtesting, and campaign page-building. The Tabletop Games Crowdfunding Roadmap compiles all of the lessons that we’ve learned from working with tabletop projects of all shapes and sizes, and synthesizes that information into one easy-to-follow guide.
Here is some of the other content that we were excited about this year:
- How To Do Lead Ads for a Kickstarter Launch
- Coyote & Crow Creator on Designing a Game By and About Natives
- The Alleyman’s Tarot Creator on Their Record-Breaking Project
- What is BackerKit?
In 2021, we hosted 11 livestreams, covering everything from marketing and advertising to crowdfunding your game on Kickstarter. Experts such as Laser Malena-Webber, Jonathan Ritter-Roderick, and Oriana Leckert joined us, answering creators’ most pressing questions.
We’re always looking for new ways to share tips with the community. Early in the year, we had quite a few people reach out to us and mention how they’d love to get a little more insight into how to design a Kickstarter page. In response, we launched our Kickstarter Draft Project Page Review series. During each session, we analyze three different Kickstarter pages live — all of which are submitted by the BackerKit community.
We’re continuing the page reviews into the new year. Our first one of 2022 is scheduled for January 13th at 10 AM PST. Follow us on Crowdcast to be the first to know about upcoming livestreams.
In the new year, we’re looking forward to deepening our relationships with creators and partners and releasing new tools that enable even more creators to reach their goals. We already have so many great product releases in the works, and we can’t wait for everyone to experience them. If the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that you have to expect the unexpected. But whatever 2022 has in store, BackerKit will be ready to support the crowdfunding community in any way that we can.