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!

    1. Cameron Brown on

      Solid analysis, and decisive action. Love it.

    2. Steve Nelson on

      I'm not sure how you would break down this query, but could you compare the length of time + dollar amount? I would think that small $ projects are more often successful than large $ projects. And that small $ projects tend to have shorter timespans. So it may be skewing these results a bit. Logically it seems that a $500 project is more likely to be successful in 10 days than a $5000 project is in 10 days. What would be useful is some way to identify the ideal time frame based on the dollar amount of the project.

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      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    4. Shane Patrick LaGrange on

      As a first timer to Kickstarter, i certainly take all the blogs and information to good use, but I recently saw something on two words that should not e used in the proposal. Please help out so i can finish my opening remarks, and get my video going.Sincerely,
      Shane LaGrange

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      Emery on

      Come on guys. Correlation does not imply causation.

      It looks like you almost had it, you were so close, with:

      "This doesn’t mean that those longer projects failed to reach their goal because of the longer funding period"

      And then, you pull back - it's just too sweet to be illogical and jump to assumptions. Real science is too hard! And:

      "Rather it means that choosing a shorter duration better positions a project for success."

      Your evidence, does not, in any way, suggest that. It is just as plausible, that projects more likely to fail are prone to choosing longer durations.

    6. Neil Kandalgaonkar on

      Emery: I'm not sure it matters. Kickstarter doesn't need to know the direction of causation.

      Hypothesis 1: project founders who choose 90-day campaigns tend to be failures
      Hypothesis 2: 90-day campaigns tend to cause any project to fail

      The remedy is the same: go to 60-day campaigns. Whether this eliminates the flaky projects, or ensures projects have less likelihood of going flaky, doesn't matter to Kickstarter.

      (I'm assuming that a project that doesn't get to full funding is just useless deadweight on their site, taking up screen real estate, reducing overall good experience, increasing transaction costs, etc.)

    7. LP Murray aka The DeadMan on

      I would be curious to see if there was any seasonal impact...

    8. Geoff Brown on

      Does Kickstarter have any data on demographic things like age, gender, income, amount pledged, etc.? That might shed some light on "who is the real audience" and how do they react?" Just wondering if Kickstarter has ever researched this.

    9. Roy Ronalds on

      @neil: actually with hypothesis 1 we can assume that changing the time limit is not going to stop failing projects from starting campaigns, so the same failil projects will start, they'll just still fail.

    10. Liz Caldwell on

      Great advice, thanks :)

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      Allen Enriquez on

      What about those of us who want to create traditional (2d) animation? Animating isn't easy when you're just a one man team, specially on a 60 day limit.

    12. Vincent Lynch on

      @Allen: I may be misunderstanding the post or Kickstarter, but I dont think the duration of the fundraising impacts the duration you have to complete the project. All they are doing is making it so the maximum amount of time you have to raise the money is 60 days instead of 90.

      You still have more time than that to do the actual project.

    13. ET3D on

      Steve Nelson, projects such as Double Fine Adventure, Wasteland 2 and some others with hundreds of thousands as a goal got funded within a day, so I don't think that there's a relation between the amount of money to be raised and the time period. What I think longer periods allow is for changes to the project and rewards to satisfy more backers. These are often not easy to arrange quickly, so very short projects would struggle to do them, and they are often important to help raised more money. Still, I agree that 90 days is too much, and as a backer I appreciate projects around 30 days, as Kickstarter recommends.

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      deleted on

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    15. Charles Waugh on

      I'm a bit miffed that KS wants to 'mother' the process.
      Why not allow longer durations?
      Is it server load? Staff load?
      If someone has a reason (bad or good) for running a longer project why block them?
      Is this part of a trend towards more 'We know what's good for you' oversight?

      Yeah, I have lots of questions, so I must be miffed.

      Of course, KS's business model is enhanced by having a higher percentage of success, but isn't that a bit like ignoring to teach the lowest percentile of the school's students so the overall average score goes up? It penalizes those who need to learn by doing. My first project bombed (thankfully!) - a year later I came back and raised $70k on a design project (like #60 of all top funded design projects). It took the failure to learn what to do. If you trim the failures off, you limit learning - which limits your base to a smaller, already well-funded group.

      I'll stop now.

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      Anne Moroney on

      How does the data look when cross-analyzed versus size of goal? Doesn't a $100k project need alot more time to get social media traction than a $10k or $1k project? Couldn't someone who is in charge of such a large project be the exact one who is able to spin a great story out over the course of several months?

    17. Richard Gray on

      Picking up on Larry Murray's point of June 2011, does anyone have any data//comment on the seasonal impact of funding projects? We're planning to launch a project in July right into the holiday period. Feedback very welcome.

    18. Kevin Parham on

      Are there any trends indicating the success (or failure) rate of projects that are launched during the months of June, July, and August? I'm attempting to gauge the effect of summer vacations on project viability, if any. It would seem logical that when most people are preoccupied with traveling and outdoor activities, they might not be as inclined to "discover projects" to support. Any thoughts? -- Thanks!

    19. Russell Mofsky on

      @KevinParnham. . .Did you ever hear back from anyone regarding your question about how to best gauge the month to launch? I'm thinking about that right now! Anybody have any info on that? The summer vacation months seem like a poor time to launch. I'm curious to know what the data shows as to what is the most optimal month to launch.

    20. Alireza Saberi on

      Perfect view for me as a beginner with kickstarter

    21. Sara M. Johnson on

      I am gearing up to start my first kickstarter campaign and am wondering if I should wait until after the holidays. Any suggestions or stats on this?

    22. Ralph Haney on

      @SaraMJ... We are considering the same. I have received input from "crowdfunding experts" on both sides of the fence. Our product is appealing in a Christmas-y way (even without a wrapped box to open until a funded production run is finished in late Q1 2014). Plus, we will gain some targeted interest with the pending Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February. As such, we may launch a few weeks before Christmas week and use a longer campaign option to carry us through the lull during the holidays to mid-late January, then inciting a second wave of activity after New Years Day. However, there seems to be very little actual data available as to holiday success rates. I suggest you evaluate your timing directly related to your product values and virtues, and your ability to run the campaign during Christmas. Keep us posted!

    23. Ulysses on

      @Sara, @Ralph. . . before I launched I read so many articles on the web about when and what and where that I fail to recall where I read but it seems launching on a Sunday and ending on a Friday is ideal (Sunday seems to be a lazy, Facebook and online browsing with coffee kind of thing and Friday is Pay Day. December seemed fine but I do recall saying that launching in the summer was far less ideal then the Spring or Fall. As each day of my campaign ticks by (once you launch, prepare for the time stretch that is the Kickstarter Creator Time Warp) I realize that it is less about people discovering you on Kickstarter for 75% of your project's life and more about those from the outside you can bring to this amazing platform. The key is the "Remind Me" button. I wish the admins gave us a tally of how many people have clicked the Remind Me button, but I do not think there is a way to gather that data. Anyway, with hope many people find your project in the beginning of its life, think (this seems cool, I will hit this button and hopefully by the end it will have gathered some backers) then hit the button and forget about the project unless they constantly check their user dashboard. This is why Updates should be created and utilized like it is suggested--a blog--and perhaps your friends and family help and get that Green Bar moving so when the final 48 hour reminder emails start going out and those that saved you take a look all is well as far as funding and you are engaged and using your Updates to communicate with your backers.

    24. Team Lupo. on

      Really useful graph, and can mimic the experience with our own project. I can agree with Steve above though if 30 days is ideal duration or not depends on project type, reward level AND funding goal. We started our month long campaign with a spike and then pledges would reduce and stay at constant level make us think we could do better with a longer campaign. We got couple of press articles out this week to break from a mid campaign plateau. Now 1 week left and looking to see what happens :) Been such a learning experience!

    25. Rose Truty Scoma on

      All of the above comments are impressive. I have seen large campaigns get funded by 45-60- people. I have seen projects that do use high tech equipment against KickStarters advice and they get funded. Ive seen "easy" rewards get the project funded. Yes, avoid holidays. get everything ready to launch at once. I am about to launch mine and i have been working on it for many months along with my personal website and many other details. I know a fare amount of people, we all do, just have to get that list. Work it around the clock, tell everyone!!! I do think that the worst thing to happen is to have a project go stale. Not good for future funding. Perhaps Kickstarter wants their $ quicker lol.

    26. Sumit Vasudev on

      Greeting !!!
      Though i am new in this panel but things seem very accurate.... i am really fascinate to run my own project with the help of kickstarter and team and all the patron of art and communication people around the web,,, Good Luck Team !!!
      Sumit Vasudev
      Film Maker

    27. Missing avatar

      Delton Lorenzo Hudson on

      My project is a new entire opera I composed. Though funding limit is 60 days, such a project would have to last for a much longer time--locating what opera House will do it, contracts related to that etc . And yet KS claims that they have done enormous operatic Projects? Within a 90 or 60 day limit?!
      Cheers, Delton Lorenzo Hudson Classical composer

    28. Celeste Taylor on

      Does KS have stats on which months have been more successful for the launch? I would think this would be easy data to collect.

    29. Shiv Shambhu on

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    30. Shiv Shambhu on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    31. Mārcis Gasūns on

      Must be summer is a bad time. Please kill @Shiv Shambhu.

    32. Missing avatar

      Lisa Ray on

      This comment has been removed by Kickstarter.

    33. Mondre Wilson on

      I'm doing an Illustrated book. I'm working on it now. However, I have talked to an agent and was told that it could take up to a year for the book to be published. How can I deliver certain rewards (like a copy of the book) if it will take this long to be published? Especially since we have on a 90 day window. Can someone please help me shed some light on this. I apologize if someone has already answered this question. Thank you

    34. Anuj Kushawaha on

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    44. Harish Kumar on

      Thank you for another fantastic posting. Where else could anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect way of writing? I have a speech next week, and I was looking for more info ;)

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