Should Crowdfunding Sites Allow Campaigns To Extend Past Their Initial Deadline?
I’m posting this here on my personal blog because it hasn’t got much direct relevance on RasPi.TV.
I recently found out that a moderately high-profile IndieGoGo campaign had been given a 30 day extension at a point when it was clear that their campaign was not going to make it (well over half-way in time and just under half-way in funding)
I must be honest here. I was utterly gobsmacked! I’m not completely au fait with IndieGoGo policies and rules because I’ve always run my campaigns on KickStarter. I am VERY au fait with KickStarter rules though – and it aggravates me when I see people being allowed to flout them.
Keep in mind that once you launch your project, you won’t be able to change your funding goal or campaign duration.
Perhaps this is where I’ve gained the expectation that campaigns will not be extended?
I had a discussion with a few friends in a G+ hangout and opinion was divided. Several people thought it was not on, but at least two thought it was OK (one of whom was a backer of the above-not-mentioned project).
So after a bit of robust debate – where I was forced to confront the possibility that I MIGHT BE WRONG!!!!!! – I decided to “put it to my men”. (By the way, that’s a Michael Caine quote from the film The Eagle Has Landed, not a “sexist bastard remark”.) So I did a quick twitter poll…
Do you think it's OK for crowdfunding platforms to extend a campaign past its original deadline?
— RasPi.TV (@RasPiTV) March 29, 2016
At the time of writing there are 3 hours left and we’re at 55% NO, 45% YES. (It closed at 54% No, 46% YES). So it’s pretty close. The comments have been interesting too…
Of the people who commented, several said things like “it would give a scam feel”, or “gives an air of dishonesty”. But there were quite a few people who suggested it would be OK if a campaign got pretty close to its goal (e.g. 90% or 95%) to allow a couple of days extra. I thought this was an interesting idea.
I also did a little research and found out that IndieGoGo has done this a few times before. Their motive appears to be clear. If the project succeeds, they get their 5% cut ($15k in this case). So there is a real financial incentive to ‘bend their own rules’ from time to time. It’s their site and they can do what they like, after all.
What Do I Think As A Serial Crowdfunding Creator?
Easy. I don’t like it. Why? That’s harder to elucidate. I think I don’t like it because it is not defined or agreed at the start. If it was, I would have no problem with it. Even a little “projects may be extended from time to time” disclaimer would be enough.
I don’t like it because it smacks of dishonesty and cheating. There – I said it. I don’t blame a creator for petitioning IGG to extend. But I do think IGG is wrong to agree, unless it’s generally known that they sometimes do this.
I also dislike it because it is inherently unfair to all the campaigns that were allowed to fail and not given this extra lifeline. Failure is GOOD. Campaigns should be allowed to fail, so the creators can learn from it and come back doing things better and differently. Without the possibility of failure, success has no worth!
I know life’s not fair and this is about money. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.
I don’t have any problem with the “lifeline” idea of a 48 or 72 hour extension if a project gets >90% funded by the finish. In fact I quite like it.
I also don’t have a problem with extensions in general – as long as it is made clear that they can happen. And if this is the case, this facility should be available to all creators, not just a handful of potentially high-value failures.
I was surprised when the NexDock got a 30 day extension on IndieGoGo. I am not affiliated with the product but I have contributed to it. There is a difference with IndieGoGo in that they take the money when you pledge, and you get it back if the project is not fully funded.
I’m not sure how I feel about it getting an extension. On the one hand, it does mean that I will get one, assuming that it reaches its target at the second attempt, but I’m slightly worried if it only just makes it and they haven’t quite done their costings right that I won’t get one, but I also won’t get my money back.
The plus side of taking the money at the time of pledging is that backers can’t pull out. The downside, probably from IGG’s point of view, would be that if a project fails they may still have some transaction fees to pay, so they have an incentive to get projects across the line.
I quite like the way KS does it. It allows backers to change their mind, but it can be open to abuse. At one time there was a mystery £5k contributor to various Pi projects who was doing it just to be an a’hole. They wouldn’t be able to do that on IGG.
But the whole point here is that both of the above are known about in advance by both backers and creators and are the same for everyone. Extensions are not.
I haven’t had any direct experience with IndieGoGo but from what I’ve read about it I’d say safety is the better part of valor.