Three Things You Need to Do Before Your Crowdfunding Project Ends

This is a guest post from successful Kickstarter project creator Mario Lurig.

You’re excited. Why? Because your crowdfunding project is going to meet its goal, and you have less than 48 hours left before the project closes!

But as you’re thinking ahead to everything you’ll have to do once the money arrives, you’re missing out on an opportunity. That’s because your successful project will still exist on Kickstarter (or IndieGoGo or RocketHub, etc.) even after its fundraising time is up, gaining the attention of search engines for months or years to come. That screams opportunity, so it’s time to do a few things before your project deadline is reached.

1. Update the Description

Once your project deadline is reached, your description is locked forever. That means you need to update it fast. When your project was actively raising money, the first thing a visitor should have seen was a brief summary of the project. When your project is over, that information should come second. On top, you should provide instructions and links on where people who missed the opportunity to back your project when it was active can go now to participate.

If you are making a movie, selling a product, or putting out an album, you should be linking to a webpage that has more information on the item, even if it’s just a page on a social networking site. If it’s part of a bigger business, then get a link to your business website right up top! If you can’t insert a hyperlink, then provide the URL. People hate missing out on that cool thing, so this is an opportunity to capitalize on those who arrived late to the party.

2. Check Your Email and Comments

Sure, I get it; you’re busy, so you probably left a few of those emails that flooded your project inbox for a later time. Well, time’s running out, and if you haven’t followed up with someone, you may be missing out on a chance to convert a watcher to a backer. People are paying you, up front, for you to create something amazing, and if it’s their first time funding a project, they probably have doubts and concerns. An email reply from you will soothe their fears and could earn you another backer.

Also, not every crowdfunding platform allows you to be notified when a new comment is posted on a project update, so if there is a question that has been sitting for a while in the comments section, it’s important that you use the site’s options to contact and respond to the question directly (as well as in the comments, so other readers can see your response, too). Once again, the goal is to reassure and encourage your watchers and turn them into backers.

3. Say Thank You

Have you ever noticed that many projects have more social networking interactions (Like, +1, Tweet, etc) than backers? Sometimes people will show their enthusiasm for a project through their social network, thinking that they will come back later to actually support it by becoming a backer. The problem is that people are forgetful in this fast-paced world. If your project was popular in the first week of a 30 day project, then by day 28 you stand a really good chance of being forgotten by those passers-by.

It’s time to start searching Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, and all of the search engines for mentions of your project. If you don’t have an account, make one, and then say “thank you.” Those two words, undeniably heartfelt, reconnect you (the person) to them (other people). People back projects because of the people behind them, so by reconnecting with them on a personal level, you not only are reminding them about your project, but you’re also building a stronger relationship between you and them.

Final Thoughts

It’s easy to get overwhelmed, excited, and even a little bit frazzled that your venture is on its way to success. Don’t feel bad that you missed something; there’s still time to get it right.

Image by JD Hancock.

About the Author:

Mario Lurig successfully funded Dice Candies through Kickstarter, receiving 1700% of the requested funds. He is also an author and web developer, when his hands are free of chocolate.

You Sunk My BattleShip by Derek Gavey

Why Losing at Kickstarter Doesn’t Mean You Won’t Still Win in the End

If there’s a household name in crowdfunding, it’s Kickstarter.  As the largest and most buzzed-about site in the industry, Kickstarter attracts a lot of attention — and users.  And since it’s an all-or-nothing fundraising solution, the stakes are high for every Kickstarter project.  But high stakes also mean high rates of failure; in 2011, less than half of all Kickstarter projects reached their funding goal.

Does that mean less than half of those project creators will ever see their dream come true?  Does that mean their ideas are bad, or unworthy of support?


It just means they may need to find other ways to fund their dreams.

So if your Kickstarter project is one of the majority that doesn’t get funded, and you’re wondering if you should give up on the idea completely, take heart; here are five things you could do instead of quitting.

1. Try a Different Crowdfunding Platform.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing fundraising platform; most other platforms are not.  If your project had some support on Kickstarter, but not enough to reach your full goal, try re-launching the project on a different platform that allows you to keep the funds your backers pledge regardless of whether or not you reach 100% of your goal.  (And don’t forget to inform your Kickstarter backers that the project is alive on another site, where their pledge will need to be re-donated!)

2. Collect Your Funds Without a Middle-Man.

If you’re still passionate about your project, why not cast yourself as the underdog and collect all the funds yourself, directly from your fans, without the use of a crowdfunding platform?  You’ll lose out on the convenience and organization those platforms provide, but if you’re willing to do the leg work yourself, your fans may rally behind an even more DIY version of your idea.

3. Go Through the Traditional Funding and Distribution Channels.

You wanted to record an album but couldn’t meet your funding goal?  Get old-fashioned: post a few tracks online and send links to as many record label reps as you can find.

You wanted to film a movie but you couldn’t raise the capital?  Shoot a short video, or a trailer, and post it to YouTube as a proof of concept, and send it to all the independent producers / agents / actors know (and even the ones you don’t).

You wanted to publish a book of poetry?  Submit those poems to a magazine instead.

You wanted to code an app?  Go to a local hackers meeting and schmooze.

There are a million ways to get your dream in front of the people who can make it happen.  If those people didn’t stumble across your Kickstarter project in time to get it funded, that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and find them all yourself.

4. Fund It Yourself.

Kevin Smith produced Clerks by selling off his comic book collection and maxing out his credit cards.  He wouldn’t have let a failed Kickstarter project deter him from inventing his own film career from scratch; why should you?

5. Try Kickstarter Again.

If at first you don’t succeed, learn from your mistakes and try again.  Were you asking for too much money?  Did you fail to promote the project?  Did your explanatory video fail to actually explain anything?  Should you have doubled the active length of the project from 30 days to 60?

You’ll never know unless you try… again.

Failure is part of life.  But giving up?  That’s a choice — and so is choosing to see your idea through until it succeeds.

Don’t quit until you stop believing.

Image by derekGavey.

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INTERVIEW: How HelpersUnite Empowers Artists and Startups to Become Philanthropists

What if your crowdfunding project could make two dreams come true: yours, and your favorite charity’s?  That’s the idea behind HelpersUnite, a crowdfunding platform that donates a percentage of every dollar raised by their projects to the charity of each project creator’s choice.

DeAndre Purdie, the Creative Director at HelpersUnite, explains the vision behind the platform and gives a few examples of how charities benefit from the philanthropy of the site’s inspired users.

CrowdFundingHelp (CFH): What prompted you to launch HelpersUnite?

DeAndre Purdie (DP): Our founders, Luan Cox and Sri Goteti, came across the trend of crowdfunding websites and noticed there was a lot of money being raised for artistic and entrepreneurial projects, but nothing was being done to combine this idea with fundraising for charity. It was also shocking to them to see on certain crowdfunding sites that having a project of charitable nature was actually “prohibited” and such projects would be rejected.

After seeing this void in the crowdfunding space, they decided to marry the concepts of fundraising for charity and crowdfunding for creative projects. Both had existed on separate platforms in the past, and HelpersUnite was the missing piece to bring these two together.

CFH: How does it differ from similar platforms like GiveCorps?

DP: One of our biggest differences between us and platforms like GiveCorps or Kickstarter is we’re the only site to provide fundraising for artistic/entrepreneurial efforts while donating a portion of the proceeds raised to any US-based charity. We’re providing the platform and by doing so, challenging artists and entrepreneurs to use their power to bring about positive change in the world.

It doesn’t matter to us if you’re a filmmaker who wants to fund your next film, an entrepreneur who’d like to crowdfund to expand your small business, or a photographer who needs funds to put together an exhibition. Project ideas are endless and we welcome varying ideas from all across the board. Our main goal is to inspire project creators to give back to the greater good, and by doing so, they fund their dreams, raise donations for a charity, and inspire those around them to give back as well.

CFH: How do you match projects with causes?

DP: From the 30+ projects that we currently have, we’ve yet to run into a situation where a creator has an issue with selecting a cause, as many of the projects are charitable in nature. For example, with the project “Off The Page — Bringing Social Studies to Life!“, a project by two teachers in Brooklyn, NY, they didn’t hesitate to select Donors Choose as their charity, an organization which helps teachers like them who need support.

We also have developed relationships with several charities, and we consistently work with them to find ways to raise money for their organizations, whether it be a fundraising event, a project of their own, or if we get a project submission that seems like a good match yet the creator is unsure of which cause to select.

One of the [potential] upgrades to our platform would be a matching engine, where we’ll be able to suggest charities as the creator is submitting their project idea based on the charities that align with them.

CFH: What are your long-term goals for the site?

DP: In the future, we hope to see HelpersUnite become the #1 choice for artists and entrepreneurs to crowdfund their goals, simply because it means they get to give back to charity at the same time. We’ve seen many other companies who’ve done an excellent job in helping the creative community raise money, but imagine if just 1% of the hundreds of millions of dollars raised went to charity? This is what drives us every day, and we strongly believe that many others should have this same mindset.

CFH: Can you give us an example (or two) of a HelpersUnite project you would consider to be a success and which also best represents your company’s goals and values?

Believe it or not, we really believe that all of our projects are considered a success. With every HelpersUnite project, we are assisting in raising money for charity that wasn’t [available] before, no matter how large or small.

For example, the “Off The Page” project raised over $9,500. Prior to this fundraiser, these two Brooklyn teachers were paying out of pocket for liability insurance and materials. Even though they fell a bit shy of their goal, they were able to keep the money they raised while also giving back to Donors Choose, who received 10% of all proceeds raised, which amounted to over $800.

Chambers, Herbert & Ellis is another excellent example of a successful project. This second generation jazz trio needed funds to record a demo CD. As jazz musicians, they didn’t hesitate to select Los Angeles Jazz Society as their charity and were happy to give back to a cause that has helped mold each member of this trio from birth. In the end, they came out above and beyond their goal, becoming 105% funded and giving over $250 to their charity.

CFH: Hypothetically speaking, what kinds of projects do you think your platform is best designed for?

DP: Our platform is designed to handle a wide range of projects, and we really didn’t want to make it too specific or narrow down the categories of projects we are targeting. Ultimately, it is most important to us that we bring two parties together who typically aren’t thought to be in relation to one another; people raising money for their personal goals, and charities fundraising for a cause.

We believe that people want to give back while going after their personal goals.  We just provided the proper platform and made it that much easier.


You can learn more about HelpersUnite here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.


7 Reasons Why Crowdfunding Projects Fail

Some crowdfunding projects seem to succeed against all odds, while others that should be slam-dunks fall far short of their goals.  What separates the funded from the funded-nots?

You can scour Kickstarter’s 2011 year-end stats for tips, but if you really want to minimize your risk, here are 7 mistakes to avoid on your quest toward getting fully funded.

1. Asking for Too Much… or Too Little

How much money do you need to accomplish your envisioned project?  Ask for too much and people might think you’re crazy (or just greedy); ask for too little and they’ll doubt you actually know what you’re doing.  See how much money other projects in your field have been able to raise.  Is their range of success compatible with your project’s needs?  (And would you know what to do with that money if you had it?)

2. A Bad Promo Video

Most crowdfunded projects produce a short video to explain the project’s merits, the creators’ vision, and the basic tone that backers should expect from the creative team and the finished product.  Your video doesn’t need to look expensive, but it does need to be effective, and give potential backers a reason to believe in & get excited about your project.  (And, whenever appropriate, humor helps.)

Check out these tips for making an effctive crowdfunding video.

3. No Clear Budget

Asking for a specific amount of money is not the same thing as knowing how that money needs to be most efficiently spent.  Outlining your project’s itemized budget lets potential backers know where their money is going, and sharing your budget is a major stepping stone that separates the projects that just look interesting from the projects that actually stand a logical chance of producing their envisioned results.

4. Lousy or Overpriced Perks

People want to get something cool or useful in return for donating to your project, and they expect those perks to be commensurate with the amount of money they’ve given.  If you’re producing an app, a book, a film or any other tangible product, make sure your backers will receive a copy of the finished goods at a reasonable price point.  Likewise, if your new gizmo will retail for $30, backers should receive one at $30 or less; don’t overcharge them up front for something they can pay less for later.

5. Failing to Promote

Some people think that simply having a crowdfunding project is all they need.  They made their promo video, they designated their perks, their posted their budget and stated their case… and then they never told anyone.  And when their fundraising time was up, they were shocked to discover that people hadn’t searched their project out all by themselves, as though the world is filled with people who are desperate to find excuses to hand you money.

Whether you have a crowdfunding project online for 30, 60 or 90 days, that means you have 30, 60 or 90 days to get as many people to pay attention to your project as possible — each and every day.

6. Failing to Inspire

Of course, no matter how much promotion you do, nothing helps a project succeed like the enthusiasm of others.  Is your project’s story something that your family, friends and coworkers will get excited about and want to share with their friends?  What about your peers in your field?  Bloggers? Journalists? Complete strangers?  A project that makes sense to you is a one-person quest; a project that attracts believers as it grows becomes a group effort whose odds of succeeding continually improve.

7. Giving Up Too Early

So, you’re halfway through your funding timeline but you haven’t even raised half of your total goal yet?  Here’s where the funded separate themselves from the funded-nots: they work their project even harder (and smarter) than they had been.  They realize their initial approach isn’t working, so they start tinkering.  Maybe they need a new description, a new video, new perks, or to find ways to appeal to new audiences.  But one thing is certain: they’re going to spend their project’s last few days climbing toward their goal, rather than walking away from it.

Crowdfunding is imprecise.  Don’t hinder your odds by making obvious mistakes that give your potential backers an excuse to click away before they buy in.

Image by Natasha C Dunn.

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INTERVIEW: How a DIY Espresso Machine Earned $200K on Kickstarter

What would you do for a better cup of coffee?

For engineers Gleb Polyakov and Igor Zamlinsky, the answer was simple: build a better espresso machine.

Burned by flaws in the way home espresso machines are designed, manufactured and sold, Gleb and Igor set out to create a new kind of open source espresso machine that could produce a better beverage at a more reasonable price.  But they never expected their Kickstarter project to catch on in such a jaw-dropping way.  Originally seeking $20,000 to help manufacture the first round of ZPM Espresso machines, their project has already earned more than ten times that amount, thus proving that coffee lovers will do anything to fuel a project they truly believe in.

Here, Gleb Polyakov talks about the lessons they learned from their wildly successful Kickstarter project, and why you can never budget too much time for answering emails.

CrowdFundingHelp (CFH): Your espresso machine concept seems potentially disruptive to the home coffee market, especially at a $300 retail price.  How important was reducing the typical $700 retail price to your initial business plan, and how did that impact the choices you made in designing the product?

Gleb Polyakov (GP): The $300 price point – and it might be closer to $400 by the time we get it to market; we’ve been speaking with a pricing specialist – was one of our major goals with the project. We feel that price is a huge barrier for consumers who want to enter the home espresso market. The very cheapest machine that espresso enthusiasts recommend for home use starts at around $700, and from an engineering standpoint, we couldn’t see a reason why this had to be the case.

The project began as a series of conversations about what we want in an espresso machine, and when we sat down and priced out all the parts and effort that it would take to actually do it, we saw a huge opportunity in the market.

Design-wise, this price point meant that we had to sacrifice the sleek and curvy, ’50s-Italian-sports-car look that a lot of machines have. Flat surfaces and hard angles are a lot cheaper and easier to make and work with. We think that our final design looks pretty good, though.

Another reason we can offer the machine at such a low price is our decision to go with as many off-the-shelf components as possible. This means that most of our parts are coming from catalogs, McMaster-Carr or Home Depot. A lot of espresso machine manufacturers custom-make the parts they use, which raises costs without necessarily improving quality. Plus it means that the machines are more expensive for the consumer to repair, and we didn’t think that was fair.

CFH: What led you to choose Kickstarter as your production funding platform? Had you explored any other crowdfunding platforms prior to launching your Kickstarter project?

GP: We chose Kickstarter because it seemed to have the best interface and most interesting projects compared to other similar crowd-funding platforms that we looked at. We thought it would be a great way to spread the word about our project while raising some more seed capital.

CFH: How did you come up with your initial $20,000 funding goal?

GP: The $20,000 funding goal was how much we needed to purchase a Tormach PCNC 1100, a machine that mills cast metals into shape, with a couple of add-ons, as well as build a foundry for casting our thermoblock. We weren’t trying to fund all of our start-up costs from Kickstarter – though we ended up getting a lot more support than we ever anticipated.

CFH: Since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding platform, did you have a backup plan if your project fell short of its goal?

GP: We approached Kickstarter not as our main way of raising funding, but rather as an alternative to some kind of lease-to-own deal for getting equipment. It’s grown to be a lot more than that. The crowd-funding platform is really amazing.

For us, the way to build a great machine was to start from the consumer’s point of view. And the Kickstarter ideology meshed so well with that. So it made sense to get in touch with a community of interested people right away, and tell them about what we were doing, and see what suggestions they had.

CFH: How did you promote your project?

GP: We didn’t. At least, we didn’t get a chance to.

We did have a marketing strategy in place – we have two other folks on staff, Rachel and Janet, who are doing all the marketing and customer outreach. But the thing seriously took on a life of its own right away. I posted a link to it on my Facebook, and we set up a Twitter and Facebook page for ZPM, but by the end of the first day we had already reached $10,000, and after that we spent most of our time reacting to all the responses it generated, rather than promoting it to others.

The espresso community is tight-knit and really serious about coffee, and they’ve been interested in what we were doing from the very beginning. And then we started to get more and more backers from the Kickstarter community – people who weren’t necessarily coffee enthusiasts, but saw our project had been successful and went to go see what it was all about.

CFH: When did you reach your original $20,000 goal?

GP: Early on the second day. It was unbelievable.

CFH: As I type this, you’ve already raised $237,000, which is more than ten times your initial projection.  To what do you attribute the runaway success of this project?

GP: I attribute the success of the project to the platform, the crowd-funding community, and the amazing people who started blogging and tweeting about it. We were on Gizmodo on something like the third day of our funding period. But also, our product taps into a niche that hasn’t really been explored. We were extremely lucky in having both a product that people find interesting, and also access to a great community of people through various social media outlets.

CFH: How has the project’s success changed your own expectations for your business?

GP: It’s forced us to start looking into things like warehousing fees, distribution rights, and large-scale equipment investments far earlier than we thought we would have to. It’s been very exciting, and we’re learning a lot.

Since our Kickstarter went up, Igor and I have been working basically 20 hours a day, and Janet and Rachel have been doing the same. The workload distribution that Igor and I have is that he mainly deals with the engineering side of things and I mainly deal with the business side, although there is of course overlap. I’ve been handling most of the correspondence (with the tremendous help and support of our marketing team), leaving Igor more time to spend on the technical aspects our project.

CFH: What is your current production and shipping schedule, based on your increased volume?

GP: Initially we estimated that we would be able to start shipping machines in mid-March 2012. Of course, that was when we thought we’d be looking at maybe 100 machines. Because the order volume was so huge, we’ve had to totally rethink how we’re going to fulfill orders.

Before, we thought we’d be buying parts from suppliers, but now we’ve got a large enough order that we’ll be getting them in our own batch from manufacturers. That means we’ll have a longer lead time before production can start. But because we raised so much money, we can get more equipment and hire more employees than we thought we could. So we’re looking for production now to start in mid-May or so, and shipping the first batch out the next month. But we’ll be able to ship more machines per month than we initially thought.

CFH: In retrospect, is there anything you would have done differently in the creation or promotion of your project?

GP: We would have set our funding period to 30 days instead of 40, had we ever thought we would be so successful so quickly. Also, we would have dedicated more time solely to Kickstarter and answering questions from the community. The enthusiasm that our project has generated took us completely off guard, and we just hadn’t scheduled in to our timeline the time it takes to answer hundreds and hundreds of e-mails, each with individual concerns and questions.

CFH: When the espresso community started asking questions and giving you suggestions, did that kind of feedback in any way change your business plan?  Or did it simply affect the volume of sales, rather than the core functionality of the machine (or of your customer service approach)?

GP: The community response to our project has been very helpful on many levels. The volume and enthusiasm behind it is really helping us to better understand where we fit into the espresso machine market, and who our core customers are.

One of the first messages we got was from Tek of, who recommended we order a Scace II, which is a device used to produce pressure and temperature profiles of a machine’s espresso shot. This is the standard device used by coffee professionals, and those serious about coffee. Unfortunately, we’ve still not received it (it was on backorder), but as soon as we do, we can show the community exactly the data that they want to see about our machine.

Thanks to the feedback, we’ve also been better able to understand what kind of steam wand design is optimal (people prefer a spherical pivot to a cylindrical one, and with a tip threading that accepts La Marzocco tips), which tips are considered best (those with 4 holes), and so on.

Basically, we’ve been amassing multiple opinions about various usability issues regarding espresso machines, pulling out the most popular, and have been trying to incorporate them into our product.

The responses have also put us in touch with a lot of very intelligent people, who have given us some of their time to discuss various topics like coding, sheet metal fabrication, business strategy, project management, and so on.

In regards to our customer service approach, a mantra that Janet got us all behind early on is to respond to all of the questions and comments people send us, in the way that we would want them answered ourselves. We’re not using stock answers, or synergizing our backward overflow, but rather treating the people who are sending e-mails to our Kickstarter and ZPM accounts the same way we would if they sent them to our personal e-mail.

The crowd-sourcing ethos, the idea of a group of people coming together and each contributing what they can to make something awesome, really resonates with us. It’s our backers and supporters that are allowing us to make this espresso machine a reality, and we’re humbled and grateful. Once we put the Kickstarter up, in a lot of ways it stopped being solely our machine, and we’re doing all we can to make sure that everyone who pledged their support gets a product that they’re happy with.

The ZPM Espresso project ends it Kickstarter run on January 20, 2012.  Follow along with the machine’s design and testing on its Facebook page, and check out photos and details from their testing sessions at the Batdorf Brewing Lab.

Handout by Kristopher Wilson

3 Tips for Setting Crowdfunding Goals You Can Really Achieve

When you create a crowdfunding project, you’re taking a big risk.

You’re asking people you’ve never met to believe in you.  More than that, you actually expect them to buy in to your skill, passion and integrity, so they’ll want to give you their own heard-earned money to help you achieve your dreams.

When you stop and think about it, that’s asking a lot.  Especially when your dreams might make perfect sense to you, but could seem like a pie-in-the-sky pursuit to the people holding the purse strings.

So how can you set funding targets that are both reasonable enough to seem achievable and still sufficient to bring the breadth and depth of your project’s vision to life?

Tell People Exactly What Your Budget Will Be Used For

Your project has finite costs.  Albums have recording fees, films have crews and catering, and brand new gizmos have dozens of moving parts that need to be assembled.  All of that takes time, effort, and investment in personnel and physical overhead.

Understand what those costs are before you launch your project.

Asking for $30,000 so you can record your debut album is different from asking for $30,000 so you can book 18 hours of studio time, hire two session musicians and master your CD.

Specifics count.

The more detailed (and realistic) your budget is, the more legitimate your project will seem — both to you (as its architect) and to your potential backers, who will view your preparation and research as evidence that you actually can deliver on your promises.

Your Perks Are Not Part of Your Project’s Core Costs

Whether you use Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, RocketHub, or another mainstream crowdfunding platform, you’ll want to offer perks as rewards for your project’s backers.  Maybe you’ll give donors a free t-shirt if they donate $20 to your project, and a free DVD if they give you $50.  Or maybe your perks are more inventive, like handmade thank-yous and personalized messages.

Guess what:

The costs for producing and shipping those perks?

That’s not in your project’s budget.

So go back and put it in there.

Otherwise, you’ll raise $10K, keep $9K, realize you need another $3K to actually finish recording your album, and you’ll have zero dollars left over to ship all those t-shirts, CDs and homemade cupcakes… which you never made, because you couldn’t afford all the eggs.

Perks are promotion, and promotion is a budget item.  Factor it all in before you forget.

Ask for Slightly More Money Than You Think You Need

If you think you can execute your project for $1000, ask for $1500.

If you think you need $10,000, you probably need $13,000.


Because there’s always a complication that you didn’t anticipate.

Sure, you can book the studio time and the musicians… but do you need to rent another amp?

Yes, now you can afford to have your book published… but what about shipping?

Maybe your FX crew is willing to work for free… but they’ll still need to buy supplies.

And even if you’ve perfected your budget down to the last dime, don’t forget that most crowdfunding platforms will keep a percentage of your final fundraising total.  For example, if you raise $10,000 on Kickstarter, you’ll actually take home around $9,000, because Kickstarter keeps 5% and Amazon (which handles the payment process) keeps another 3-5%.

Don’t let life’s unknown unknowns be the reason your fully-funded project still falls short.

Image by Kristopher Wilson.

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