Crowd-funding: Perks

In my previous post, I talked about the crowd-funding campaign that is currently trying to raise money for Nerd HQ. One thing that I didn’t talk about in that post was the fact that shortly after Zachary Levi started the crowd-funding campaign, there was a lot of negative backlash. Several bloggers and podcasters started ripping Levi as if he was some villain that was trying to steal money from his fans. One of the main problems that a lot of these people had was that the campaign had no reward structure. Most crowd-funding campaigns usually have multiple tiers of perks that give a t-shirt or a poster or something if you contribute a certain amount of money to the campaign. The Nerd HQ campaign, on the other hand, does not offer any perks because they feel that the best perk they can give is the event itself, and if they were to offer any perks, those perks would cost money and take a lot of time, both of which could be put towards making Nerd HQ a better event.

This brings me to a point that applies to much more than just the Nerd HQ campaign. Crowd-funding (in it’s current form at least) is a fairly new idea, but the vast majority of these campaigns have offered perks. These perks have made people warp the idea of what the purpose of a crowd-funding campaign should be. If someone is crowd-funding a movie, people should contribute to that campaign because they want to see that movie get made. They shouldn’t contribute because they want a t-shirt with the movie’s logo on it. If the goal was to just give contributors cool little perks in return for their donation, then they should just start an Etsy store and sell the things that they’re giving away as perks in the store.┬áIt’s called a donation for a reason. If you donated to the Red Cross, would you expect the Red Cross to give you something in return for your donation?

I have contributed to crowd-funding campaigns before and was asked to select a reward tier. Not long ago I actually contributed to a campaign for a web-show that was trying to raise money to make their third season, and for contributing, I get my name in the credits for every episode of the season, a digital download of every episode as they are released, and I also get a small box full of little items and trinkets related to the show. These perks are cool, and I’m looking forward to getting them. However, I didn’t contribute so I could get those perks. I contributed because I’m a fan of the show, and I want them to make a third season. In fact if it meant that they could have a bigger budget and create a better show, I would rather not get those perks. This is the same reason that I contributed to the Nerd HQ campaign.

I have enjoyed the live streams of celebrity panels that they have been provided for the last three years (which no one else does), and I want them to be able to continue doing that. Not to mention all of the other awesome stuff that happens at the event that I hope to enjoy one day when I’m no longer a lowly grad student and can afford to take a weekend trip to San Diego. That’s why I contributed. If anyone doesn’t believe that having access to approximately 25 hours of un-moderated celebrity panels every year is worth a $5 donation, then don’t donate, but I have a problem with people who feel like their being robbed because they aren’t getting a t-shirt in return for their donation. If you want a t-shirt, buy a t-shirt.

If you want to learn more about the Nerd HQ campaign, you can visit the campaign page here, and you can hear Zachary Levi address some of the negative reaction that the campaign received here. And just for fun, here’s a video of some highlights from some of the panels that have been at Nerd HQ over the last three years: