The Board Game Design Course

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How to choose and set up a pledge manager

Last week we looked at 3 methods to balance your game. Today, we’re going to launch into a new series delving into the little-discussed but very important topic, what to do after your Kickstarter ends. This is where the real work begins. We’ll start with how to choose and set up a pledge manager.

Now when I say your Kickstarter has ended, I’m really referring to a successful campaign that has met its funding goal. If you didn’t meet your goal, it’s time to assess your campaign, look at what could have been done better, and determine if there is a market for your game, along with how to better promote your game and build an audience.

So, let’s assume you’ve hit your funding goal. I’ve talked about pledge managers before in this article and why it’s a good idea to use one, so I won’t go into all the benefits here.

Instead, I’ll jump right into how to choose a pledge manager, the steps to set up your project, and finally, adding backer credits and notifying your backers.

Choose the pledge manager that’s right for you

There are several different pledge managers on the market. They all function similarly in that they allow you to upload your list of backers, along with the amount they pledged and their pledge levels. They also let you list all your products, including both those you offered during your crowdfunding campaign and other items you’d like to offer as upgrades and add-ons and then sell these to customers.

Here is a list of just some of the pledge managers available:

As a creator, I have only ever used Gamefound, so I can’t speak to the quality of each of these pledge managers. However, the folks at Rock Manor Games have put together an excellent comprehensive article entitled The Tale of 4 Pledge Managers, where they compare the first 4 pledge managers from the list above. I highly recommend reading this article if you’re interested in learning the in’s and out’s, along with the pros and cons of each pledge manager.

The long and the short of it is that users don’t really care which pledge manager you use. They are all pretty similar in terms of the user experience. They all offer great customer support to creators as well. How they do differ is in the set-up for creators and the price, along with some of the features.

I’ve chosen Gamefound mostly due to price. It’s essentially free other than the credit card fees, which are unavoidable no matter what pledge manager you choose. You have to do more setup yourself, but for me, it was worth it for the cost-savings. Gamefound is also now in the crowdfunding business, so there’s also a lot more traffic on their site and you can even launch your campaign here and use their pledge manager service to provide an all-in-one solution.

Set up your pledge manager for success

Once you’ve chosen your pledge manager, you need to get everything set up and ready to go.

I highly recommend getting your project page ready, with all your products, including any upgrades you want to offer, during your crowdfunding campaign. If you can have this approved and ready to go, then you can seamlessly switch the call-to-action (CTA) on your campaign page to “Make a late pledge” as soon as your campaign ends. This way, you won’t lose any potential sales from people who discover your campaign after it has already ended.

To set up your pledge manager, you will need to add:

  • Company and payment details (Gamefound uses Stripe, for instance)
  • All individual products
  • Shipping rates by region (by weight or item – weight is recommended)
  • Taxes (note that VAT varies by country)

Once you have everything in place, you can ask for your project to be reviewed. Once approved, your pledge manager will be live and ready to take new orders.

You will have to wait until Kickstarter releases funding to your bank account, which typically takes about 2 weeks from the end of your campaign before you can add in your existing backers. Once all the funds have cleared, you can download a list of verified backers in Excel format.

It’s helpful to note that some of your Kickstarter pledges won’t go through. There may be an issue with the credit card of some backers and while Kickstarter does notify them, you can expect a dropoff of around 1-2% of backers.

Your pledge manager will require a specific format for uploading your backers and credits, so make sure to follow their template. In the case of Gamefound, you will first import your backer list, which includes their name, email, and amount pledged. This amount will be turned into credits that each backer can put towards their pledge. You can also optionally upload backer’s carts, identifying each item a backer already ordered. This makes it easier on backers so that they don’t have to remember the exact item(s) they pledged for.

Once you’ve got everything set up and your backer list is imported, you’re ready to contact your backers.

Notify your backers

It’s time to let your backers know that they can finalize their pledges. This involves selecting/confirming their items (including any add-ons or upgrades), confirming their address, and paying for everything, including any shipping or taxes that may apply.

If you’ve set everything up correctly, backers will be able to apply their credits (the amount they pledged during your crowdfunding campaign) and finalize their pledges in a matter of moments.

You will let your backers know once everything is ready by sending them a welcome email from your pledge manager. In Gamefound, this is done by simply clicking the check box at the top of your user list to select them all and then clicking the button at the top to send them a welcome email. This email gives them a link to your project and explains step-by-step how to complete their pledge.

You will receive the odd question from backers who are not familiar with pledge managers or are unsure of something related to their pledge. Take the time to understand the issue and reply to them promptly to fix any potential issues.

You can leave your pledge manager open for as long as you choose. You may want to close it down before entering manufacturing or perhaps a couple of weeks before your games will arrive at the distribution centre or warehouse if you sent extra inventory to cover any potential late orders. This is all up to you and how comfortable you are with handling late orders.

In any case, make sure that backers know what the deadline is in advance. You’ll need to allow them to update their address until a specific cut-off date, after which point addresses will be locked down.

Wrapping it up

There you have it. How to choose a pledge manager, set it up, add credits, and notify your backers so that you can take advantage of all the benefits of a pledge manager, all while creating a great and seamless experience for your backers and new customers.

Do you have any questions about using a pledge manager?

Please leave a comment by clicking on the button below and I’ll answer your question.

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    Are there any advantages to selecting a pledge manager before launching? Will any help with promotion?


    Hey, Alex! Thanks for the question. There’s not much of an advantage in terms of attracting more backers other than gaining some backers who know that they will have the option to pledge or upgrade their pledge in the pledge manager after the campaign. However, this is more about knowing you are going to be using one and communicating this rather than selecting a specific pledge manager and letting potential backers know which one it is, as this won’t have much sway.

    The big advantage comes through setting this up during your campaign and making it available as soon as you can after the campaign to help others who missed your campaign. That way anyone who wants your game won’t miss out.

    Alex, BackerKit will help with marketing. So if you are planning to work with them, you would do well to decide that at least a few weeks in advance of launching your campaign, so as to maximize the opportunity to use their marketing services.

    (Note: I am not affiliated with BackerKit)

    Absolutely, Kirk. You need to do a lot of pre-launch marketing. Waiting until after your campaign launches to let folks know about your game won’t have anywhere near the same impact.