Do Backers Prefer Kickstarter’s Built-In Survey or Third-Party Pledge Managers?

18 June 2018 | 19 Comments

On Saturday I was preparing to film a crowdfunding video about the post-campaign survey creators send to backers to collect addresses and confirm their rewards, but I realized that my last reader poll for this subject was nearly 2 years old. Hence today’s post.

During my days on Kickstarter, which ended with Scythe in November 2015, I never used a third-party pledge manager. At the time, my polls indicated that backers preferred Kickstarter’s built-in survey.

However, since then as a backer I’ve used services BackerKit, PledgeManager, and CrowdOx a number of times. They do a great job of ushering backers through the survey process.

I think third-party pledge managers are particularly helpful for complex projects with a number of add-ons, as they ensure people pledged the correct amount and can charge backers if they underpaid (or if they decide to add more stuff to their pledge).

That said, I still receive plenty of standard Kickstarter surveys for projects I back, and they work great too. They’re certainly faster–often then involve a single click, as Kickstarter already knows my address.

But I’m just one backer–I’m curious what you think! I’m guessing other creators are curious as well. Please state your preference via this poll, and below it you can see the data from the same poll 2 years ago.

Here’s the data from the same poll 2 years ago (545 responses):

  • 44.77% prefer Kickstarter’s survey for simple projects; third-party survey for complex projects with lots of add-ons
  • 28.44% prefer using third-party pledge managers
  • 19.27% had no preference
  • 7.52% prefer Kickstarter’s built-in survey

I’m also curious to here your personal perspective in the comments. Are there any changes or improvements you’d like to see on any of the various survey types?


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19 Comments on “Do Backers Prefer Kickstarter’s Built-In Survey or Third-Party Pledge Managers?

  1. Peter: Based on what you described here, Kickstarter’s survey should be more than sufficient. Check out the article I’ve written about Kickstarter surveys–it shows how I used their survey to sort out add-ons that were pledged during the campaign.

  2. Hey Jamey! Thanks so much for creating so many resources for first time creators like myself! :)

    I’m still pre-launch, so I’ve never created a survey on KS or a third-party pledge manager, and I can’t tell which is more appropriate for my project.

    I know a third-party pledge manager can also double as a preorder store, but I can just use Shopify for that. So I don’t see how the potentially massive cost of these pledge managers is justified. For example, if you’d used the Professional Backerkit plan for Scythe, you would have ended up paying them: 3% of $1.8 million = $54,000. Yikes.

    But many of the projects I’ve backed lately use them, so I feel I’m missing something.

    Ours will be a simpler project, with a few tiers and limited add-ons (<10 different SKUs). We are not planning on letting backers do any late-pledging. Anybody who misses the campaign can preorder through our Shopify.

    Can I have backers pledge during the campaign for the reward and add-ons they want, and then sort out who got what afterwards using the regular KS backer survey?

    The frequent use of third-party pledge managers just makes me concerned that the KS backer survey is insufficient, even for relatively uncomplicated projects.

    Thank you for your time!

  3. I prefer the following, (as a super-backer if it counts for anything): Have a KS survey regardless of your size and complexity. Often some of them just ask, What are you expecting? like any Add-ons or buy 2 sets or anything you’d like to see IN the pledge manager. If the bulk of the KS backers give simple responses.. why would they need to build a pledge manager? If they have complex orders and 50% of the backers are asking the same thing, as a KS manager, you’d have that information to build your KS PM for ease of use.

    A Big problem I Do see often is the lack of common sense in backers, who go to the pledge manager direct and pledge again, then need to reverse their mistake, or miss the email that gives the direct link or don’t understand the PM enough and ask question after question on the forums.

  4. Jamey,

    As a Backer, I thoroughly enjoy the third-party folks who make it a breeze to add content well after the campaign. As someone assisting Outer Limit Games, I’m not sure these options were available even a few short years ago. Again, the hobby has created amazing industries over the past few years…from Patreon for podcasters; board game tables; special dice; and everything in-between for the gamer. On the other side of the fence, fulfillment centers, distribution outlets, and KS experts and specialists to assist the new creator with their dreams.


  5. Hello,

    We have a campaign currently on KS, ending up in less than 2 weeks. It’s a small campaign (we’re expecting around 250 backers amounting $15000), but we need a pledge manager to collect shipping costs + survey the pledgers.

    1) I’ve heard that we can’t ask certain questions on the KS survey, such as personal info (age/gender…) or where they’ve heard of us. Is this true? In that case, I guess we would forward users to our own survey embedded on our website… What are the most important questions to ask besides these ones? How many questions are too many questions? :)

    2) What would you recommend for collecting shipping costs: does KS offer this option? We haven’t found any info on that. Or should we use a Paypal button? A Celery/Stripe account? Something else? (I’m not sure that we need big pledge managers such as Crowdox, they might be oversized for us?)

    3) What about late pledges? Are they a must? Should the price be the same as regular pledges? Is adding the possibility to buy a second copy at a lower price a good option?

    Thank you!

    1. Mina: Thanks for your questions! I’ll do my best to answer them.

      1. Yes, you can’t ask demographic questions on the Kickstarter survey. Here’s how I structured my surveys:

      2. A pledge manager is the best way to collect shipping if you haven’t done that during the Kickstarter campaign.

      3. Late pledges aren’t a must, though I think that offering at least some of the content for pre-order after the campaign is good for you and for customers. I recommend that the price be a little higher than during the campaign out of respect for the backers who made the project a reality. I do not recommend devaluing your product just because someone buys more than one.

      1. Thank you for your fast response Jamey! (and for your excellent website :)
        I’m not really sure which pledge manager to choose, but I’ll investigate!

        1. Hi Mina,

          James Mathe wrote a nice post comparing the 3 main pledge managers. You may find it helpful to read through it. There are also some lower cost pledge manager options that may be worthwhile for you on a project of your size.

  6. I dislike using a pledge manager after the fact just to collect shipping. Even when it is explained in the project, this feels like an attempt to obscure and hide the shipping cost.

  7. As a backer, I have no preference. As a creator however, I would like Kickstarter itself to improve its current survey system. It could benefit from the already % of fees it takes for the services it provides.

    example: a project makes 50K , usually 10% more or less fees. Then has a typical late pledge using Paypal and a simple KS survey. No add ons available that way.

    Alternatively, same project uses an external PM to generate profit from the addons/upgrade pledges, with a smaller yet significant fee. As a creator I would prefer to give the fee to KS itself as it was the one that started it all.

    Also note, in my hypothesis if a KS PM is improved, the 7day warning and dropped pledges might be reduced. Also the $1 pledge for future upgrade pledge could still apply.

  8. I’ve noticed that some of the 3rd party sites are now listing which items are already included in your pledge, though I’d really love so see this highlighed even more, such as a “You have X of these” note displayed for each addon item. I’m also a big fan of Reaper Miniatures’s pledge manager which is active from day 1 of the campaign. This allows me to mark off things I’m interested in and ones I’m not as the campaign progresses rather than trying to remember what I was pledging for weeks or months after the campaign ends. It also has the added benefit of calculating the total pledge amount for easy entry in Kickstarter. I assume this allows the folks at Reaper to see what people are interested in as the campaign progresses as well which seems like it might be useful data from the creator side.

  9. I admit to ignorance on my part, but I have this image in my head that KS’s surveys are easier to create and implement than third-party PMs, which always -seem- to me to add more time and delay to the project’s delivery.

  10. The Board Game Business Podcast just had an excellent episode “Are Pledge Managers Worth It?”. I’m fine with either KS or 3rd parties especially when they make it easy. Some 3rd parties will have extra logins and/or make you re-fill out your personal information. Not as great an experience. Looking forward to seeing the results. Thanks.

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