Think Before You Stretch

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Over time we’ve seen a growing number of creators adding “stretch goals” — unofficial targets beyond a project's funding goal, with promises of new rewards or other incentives if they are reached. Stretch goals are seen as a way to keep pledges coming in after a project’s funding goal has been reached. But are stretch goals a good idea?

All-or-nothing funding is simple and clear: a project has a single goal, and backers support the project in its pursuit of that goal. Stretch goals muddy the waters. What if someone got in early and helped a project reach its funding goal, but now the creator is focused on stretch goals? What if someone backs a project for a stretch goal-related reward, and that goal isn’t met? Both are bad experiences for backers.

For a typical stretch goal a creator will promise to release their game in additional formats or add extra functions if certain funding goals are hit. But expanding a project’s scope can change the creative vision and put the whole project at risk. We’ve seen stretch goals leave some projects overwhelmed, over-budget, and behind schedule.

As many creators and backers have learned from experience, often what seems like "extra" money isn't extra at all. If a project has a funding goal of $10,000 but raises $1 million, does that mean its creator got an "extra" $990,000? Not at all.  More money means more backers and rewards to fulfill — and less margin for error.

Many Kickstarter projects end up significantly overfunded, and creators often use those funds to improve the project's end product. More funding might mean higher-quality materials and other improvements that thank backers with a better-made thing. For other creators overfunding means the project turns a profit. Both are great outcomes. Stretch goals, on the other hand, trade long-term risk for a short-term gain. Tread carefully.

What should a creator do if their project is funded with significant time on the clock? The same thing every creator should do: make an unforgettable experience for their backers. Use updates to share the creative process as it happens. Make a connection that goes beyond funding. Money gets spent, but a strong community will last forever.

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