The Road to Kickstarter and Board Games #14 – Pledge Managers

Pledge Managers are third party programs designed to assist the creator after a Kickstarter campaign has ended. They are becoming more and more popular, and with all the projects I have backed, the majority tend to have them. So what are they are what are they used for? In a general sense, they are used for managing fulfillment and have several main functions. While creators can do this manually with a csv file, if there are thousands of backers and multiple pledge levels and additional purchases, then creators may find pledge managers very beneficial. 

Backer Information

One of the important aspects of pledge managers is to get all the backer information. This includes, name, phone, mailing address and anything else required to be delivered and fulfilled. While you can easily get this information through a Kickstarter “end of campaign response”, the benefit of the pledge manager is combining the backer information with the other features to create a robust, easy to manage system. 

Pledge Managers also act like a shopping cart. They are connected to Kickstarter and it will know how much each backer has already put in. Backers have “credit” equal to how much they have already backed, but can add more items with the pledge manager.

Different Pledge Levels

Campaigns may have different pledge levels for various rewards. Having the pledge manager allows backers the possibility to upgrade their pledge to a higher tier. If a backer was on the fence during the campaign, they may want to increase it here. 

Add-ons

Like the pledge levels, creators may add optional buys or add-ons to the campaign. These can include, different expansion sets, previously made games or additional components that will not be made with the base game. Backers can select

More Copies

Backers can get more copies of the game through the Pledge Manager. While some campaigns offer Reward Levels offering multiple copies for a reduced cost, the pledge manager can also be used to increase the amount of copies. 

Shipping Costs

The other big thing a pledge manager can include is shipping costs. If a campaign does not include shipping (pros and cons here) in their initial pledge, backers will have to pay for shipping in the pledge manager. Having the shipping combined with all the additional copies, add-ons and different pledge levels assists with the costs. Instead of having a standard amount, knowing the weight of each additional item will give a close to exact cost for the shipping. 

Changed Information

Pledge managers also allow backers to change their information. While still active, it is much easier for a backer to change their address, name or phone number in the pledge manager then contacting the creator directly. While this may still need to happen after the pledge manager is closed and they are in fulfillment, it lowers the number and makes it easier on both parties. The pledge manager is sent to each backers email address (connected to the kickstarter account). From this email, a link is shared to them in which they can access at any time the pledge manager is still open. Creators should make aware to backers how long this will stay open.

Length of a Pledge Manager

I have generally seen pledge managers stay open for up to a few months after the campaign has finished and has been sent out. This time period is fair for both backers and assists the creator in finalizing the product before going to print (art, components, rules, etc). If a pledge manager has run out of time and a backer has yet to put in their information and chosen their rewards, it is at a backers loss. They are welcome to contact the creator directly to work out their pledge. 

Different Pledge Managers

There are quite a number of pledge managers now available. I personally have not yet researched the pros and cons of each, but here are some of the most common I have seen being used.

Cost

While all these features are great for both backers and creators, there is a cost involved in using Pledge Managers. I am unsure exactly at what cost this is, but I think it is a small percentage of the sales brought through the pledge manager itself. You have to weigh up the pros to the cost involved. Kickstarter already takes 10% of the initial campaign. If a campaign is quite complex and has a lot of additional items, pledge levels and shipping costs to weight up, it may be very helpful to have everything in one place. However a campaign with not many add-ons and shipping included may be more cost effective and easy enough for the creator to do themselves.

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