Shortening the Maximum Project Length

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Over our first two years, the projects that have given themselves the most amount of time to reach their funding goal have actually made their goal less often than any other projects on Kickstarter. The overall success rate is 44%, but for 90 day projects (our max) it’s 24%.

We can’t say for certain why this is the case, but we have a few guesses. For one, 90 days is a long time, and more time does not create more urgency. Instead it makes it easier for backers to procrastinate, and sometimes they forget to come back at all.

More time doesn’t help the project creator either. Though the funding deadline may seem to be a project’s enemy, it’s actually its ally (more on that in a second). And don’t overlook how much effort a project requires. Even far shorter durations can be fatiguing for a creator.

With those things in mind, today we’re lowering the maximum amount of time a creator can choose for their project from 90 days to 60 days. This only affects projects that have yet to launch. Any previously launched project with a duration over 60 days will see no changes with their project.

To give you an idea of what lead us to this decision, let’s look at a graph that shows how a project’s funding duration and its success rate are correlated:

Project Duration vs. Success Rate

(Click the image for full resolution)

The horizontal axis represents how long a creator chose for their duration and the vertical axis represents what percentage of those projects were successfully funded. As you can see with the line through the middle, historically the more time a project has given itself the less likely it has been to reach its goal.

This doesn’t mean that those longer projects failed to reach their goal because of the longer funding period, or that choosing a 30-day (our recommendation) duration would have caused them to succeed. Rather it means that choosing a shorter duration better positions a project for success.

The following graph, which represents every pledge ever made on Kickstarter in relation to when in the project’s lifecycle it occurred, explains:

Pledge Distribution Over Time
(Click the image for full resolution)

Here the horizontal axis represents the project’s timeline from beginning (the far left) to end (far right) and the vertical axis represents the frequency of pledges.

As the graph illustrates, funding tends to cluster around the very beginning and very end of a campaign. There’s a logic to this. When a project launches the creator’s most fervent fans rush to show their support. And as time runs out, people who have been sitting on the sidelines are motivated to finally take action.

During the middle periods of a project pledging slows considerably. It’s a trough. Without the excitement of the new or the looming deadline’s call to action, projects need external stimuli (press, events, milestones) to generate activity. This is not always easy to do.

What projects with longer durations are primarily doing, then, is extending the trough. A more compressed time-frame minimizes the slower weeks and places greater emphasis on the beginning and end. There’s an inherent momentum that carries a project through, and keeps backers engaged and excited. We believe shorter durations will extend that experience to more projects.

We think a lot about how and why projects succeed on Kickstarter, and we do our best to apply what we learn. More than 24,000 projects have launched to date and each has been an opportunity to better understand what works and what doesn’t. We look forward to continuing to share those lessons with you. Thanks!

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