Over the last few years, we've been developing our Kickstarter survey policy and continuing to refine the process as we gain crowdfunding experience. We set a deadline date – a day on which surveys must be completed – and issue refunds to accounts with incomplete surveys after that date. Why do we do this?
- We need to complete campaigns. Stragglers who don't complete their survey cause significant and stressful trouble for our team. I wish we were exaggerating, but to this day we sometimes see a survey completed for Munchkin Shakespeare or the Ogre Designer's Edition. Surveys coming in months and years late leave us trying to figure out how to even deal with the response. And open crowdfunding campaigns make it difficult to close the financial books on a project.
- Fulfillment becomes a challenge if we do not set survey deadline dates. By setting a deadline and dropping those backers who neglect to complete their survey to the 'No Reward' level, our team can handle the packing and shipping of rewards all at once. It may take days, weeks, or months to wrap up the fulfillment, but by setting deadline dates and removing incomplete backers from the process, we can minimize the chances of mistakes and delays.
For those reasons, we set firm survey deadline dates. We often announce the deadline in a project update, and then post reminders at times as updates between the opening and close of the surveys. In our experience, we cannot post too many "finish your survey" updates, especially when we get close to the deadline date, because they mostly generate emails from those who have completed their surveys asking "Did I complete my survey?" This takes staff time and energy to say "Yes, you're fine" . . . but brings very little response from those who have neglected to complete their surveys at that time.
What does generate a response from those with incomplete surveys? Issuing the refund through Kickstarter . . . at which point it is too late. Once we make the refund through the Kickstarter system, the task is over. We issue an 85% refund to those backers who do not complete their surveys by the deadline. Why 85%? Kickstarter and credit card processing fees take approximately 10% of the funds, which we do not get back when we issue refunds, and the other 5% is to help cover our costs of resolving incomplete surveys.
We do not want to issue refunds and remove backers. In a perfect world, all surveys would be completed by the deadline date so we don't have to invest energy into processing refunds and dealing with the "but I want it" messages. But we've learned that we have to issue these refunds so we can move on with business.
We very much want your support when you spot a project you like, but part of that support must include following through and completing your survey by the deadline date. And if you back a campaign, please read the project updates. We announce survey deadlines in updates – and those updates exist to notify you of a project's status.
-- Phil Reed
NOTE: The below screenshot was captured after this Daily Illuminator post was written. The Kickstarter campaign closed on March 10, 2017 . . . and yes, this email was received in June 2022. Our survey deadline and refund policy is necessary, if only to maintain our own sanity.