I wish I could! I've tried to use Project Updates to do this on my own projects.
When I back others' projects, it's a mixed bag. With some I'll get what is clearly an automated thank you encouraging me to tweet/share their project. I get the utility of those, but as a backer it leaves me feeling emotionally unfulfilled.
Because of my role with Kickstarter I do get a fair number of "oh snap it's YOU!" messages after I back a project. Those I do love and always reply back with a "because yr awesome" response.
The perfect middle ground could be some kind of global thank you video that we as creators could make, and the site could host in some kind of way. Good one to consider.
Dale, as the posters above mentioned, it really depends on volume and scale. If your project gets a few hundred or less backers, then yes, I think it is extremely important to try to thank each and every backer. For projects with much greater numbers, even if its impossible to do so without an automated 'thank you' reply, you should at least try to thank people in a genuine and thoughtful way - perhaps a short video from you and your team, or an update specifically devoted to thanking your backers.
Be personable, be courteous, and most of all, treat your backers as you would anyone on the street who walked up to you in person and offered to help! The best thing about participating in any crowdfunding project is the ability for your backers to feel a personal connection with a project they love, as well as with its creators!
I'll play devil's advocate - I'm usually turned off by them, because they tend to feel so copy & pasted (which of course they are). A few times, I've gotten obviously personal messages, and those mean the world to me. But when I back a project and then instantly get a wall of generic thank you text, it actually displeases me a bit.
I hate to admit this, but I usually reserve that for the higher tier backers. They're the ones who are usually in it for something personalized (be it a limited item or a unique experience), so to keep their expectations met, I try to reach out and thank them, letting them know what an impact they are making.
I don't think the average backer has that sort of expectation, and the time it would take to reach out to everyone can usually be better spent on a well crafted backer update or dealing with logistics in one way or another.
I tend to engage more on social media when someone mentions they backed the project. It can be too demanding messaging everyone on Kickstarter, but if you engage on social, you start building up a relationship with the backers, and they will retweet your link/articles/etc as the campaign goes, and they become valuable cheerleaders.
I have found it very rewarding and worthwhile to personally thank every backer with a message, even if it means extra time and effort. I have connected with many people this way who I most likely would not have connected with otherwise, which has led to increased marketing and awareness for my projects.
With both of my campaigns I made sure to send a personal thank you. (and on occasion I did copy and paste) I also found it a great way to give new backers updates that they might not have seen of things to come and also a recap of early updates. But I can see that if you have thousands of backers it can get very time consuming.
I have run two small, successful Kickstarter projects (for a WWI film) and am about to begin a third. I have also backed five other projects. As a backer, I would certainly be irritated if I received an automated thank you merely exhorting me to share the link on social media, but that hasn't happened so far. My film project backers have been small in number so I have been able to thank each personally and I enjoy interacting with them too, though most seem either shy or content to watch from the sidelines. I haven't yet had to worry about large scale backing!
Back mine and I will. Haha :) Just kidding. So far, my project has only two backers and both of them are my friends. I reached out to them and thanked them for their help.
I will do my best to thank everyone individually for any help/contribution I receive. I can understand what Yancey is saying.
I think the more on-on-one communication with pledgers - the stronger the campaign will be. For the larger campaigns - it is obviously a difficult thing to do. However, I know that Abraham Lincoln sent personal letters to many mothers who had lost more than one son in the Civil War. These letters are still being read on the History Channel. I suppose the point is that personal communication between people is very important - and the more personal the communication the stronger the ties - and in Abraham Lincoln's case - history. The more ways we can better communicate with anyone who supports our projects - the more ideas you will receive and the stronger the community you will build.
I'm working on my fourth small Kickstarter campaign. Since my projects generally get under 50 backers, and the majority of them are long-time followers, I do send a quick thank-you that's personalized. If I had 50,000 backers instead of 50, I don't think I could spend that much time on messaging people.
Yes, you absolutely should make time to do this on your first project ...or three.
The personal touch is kind, and authentic. And for the 2 people you might find that don't appreciate it, you'll find 100 more that do! Never let the Negative Nancys get in the way of being kind. If you can make the time, and mean it, yes, thank each and every one. There's nothing wrong with a little copy and paste to keep it efficient, but maybe have one part where you say something inspired in each one.
Once you have 1000+ backers it gets really hard. You can count on about at least 1 hour per 100 backers if you're going fast. That's 10+ hours at 1000+ backers, which is a lot of time. It's quite ok to switch to using only the Updates at that point. That's not only sensible, but also practical.
I still wish I could make the time to thank every backer personally on my every campaign, but I just can't. I have larger backer counts than I used, and I do constant community involvement during my campaigns which takes away from my "email them all" hopes/policy.
Yancey's point about being a bit put off by a boiler-plate thank you is right, but here's an idea that might work - a customized, fun thank you eCard. Take a look at this site - it's called Rattlebox: http://goo.gl/BqGlRd It's free, and features some crazy little clips, all of which can be individualized and customized. I'm not sure you could import a CSV file formating the recipients name and email, but the humor and customized salutation would more than likely mitigate the auto angle.
At the end of the day a project is successful because of each and every single backer. I would take the time to thank them all personally. That is the least we can do as creators. Maybe do it daily so that it doesn't build up? We currently hand write " Thank You" comp slips and ship them out with our website orders and customers have commented about it being such a personal touch! All the Best, Rose
For me, this whole process with crowd funding is about building relationships and a sense of community. But when you have thousands of backers, I can see just how challenging that might become and also the need for the thank you's to become somewhat automated.....and then, once it is automated, would backers feel the pointlessness of it all? would the thank you actually loose value?
For my own project currently running http://kck.st/2AIq6y6 It is entirely based on the building of relationship, so I have made an effort to personally thank the backers. But I have also created updates with thank you's in it.
It just doesnt make sense to send an automated answer and it is much to time intense to send a personal one for a very successful campaign.
I think it is much better to post a feedback from the campaign trail once in a while "backer only" so the supporter feels addressed personally.
This might come from a european perspective where we dont have the same culture as in the northern americas.
After a certain point, I think it's insane. If you're successful and you get a lot of backers, you'll be spending that much time sending individualized "thank you" notes to every single person. To those who say, "It doesn't take any time at all:" Nonsense. Everything takes time away from something else, and it adds up. That's why automation exists in the first place.
Whenever I put out an update (and sometimes when I make publicity posts to Facebook and public forums) I thank everyone who has backed my current campaign. But individualized notes to each backer as soon as they pledge? I don't think it's necessary, and for backers who back multiple campaigns at once they may look at it as just more in-box clutter.
Maybe it's because the backers in my category tend not to be touchy-feely, but I honestly believe that they would rather that I invest the time in my project and making it as polished and well thought out as I can make it. And I believe that that is my primary obligation to them: to deliver a good product in return for their support. An individualized note of thanks would just be more inbox ephemera that they might not even read.
As we are currently on our second try for the same cause, we wanted to thanks every single backer personally - and we did so far, BUT we actually lost two backers due to the thank you message I believe which is really sad... Now we are not sure if we continue to thank everyone, as we don't want to lose more backers... :-(
P.s: If you are interested in card games, we would love to meet you over at our campaign MONSTER COMBAT
I do thank each one personally. And yes, I was afraid to put someone off with that - but so far it did not happen, it seems.
If you have a Windows PC, perhaps check out my Kickstarter here:
(last day of my 2-week campaign) and I'll thank you :)