Designing great crowdfunding rewards

Offering great crowdfunding rewards (for Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or Crowdfunder campaigns) can be a key way to involve your backers in the creative process, provide an incentive for people to back your project and allow backers to own the end product

Read in 5 minutes

In the article Kickstarter Rewards Have Three Functions, CrowdfundingPR writes that the main functions of crowdfunding rewards are:

1. To involve your backers in the creative process
2. To provide an incentive for people to back your project
3. To allow backers to own the end product

The post also identifies that designing great crowdfunding rewards is about offering “some kind of value to the backer at a reasonable price”. Carefully working out what ‘of value’ you are offering through your rewards becomes extra important once we realise that, in the words of Seth Godin “Not adding value is the same as taking it away.”  In this sense, badly designed rewards might well turn otherwise enthusiastic or willing backers away from your project, and you want to avoid that at all costs!

Make sure your rewards offer something valuable to your backers

So how can you offer or add value with the crowdfunding rewards you design? You’ll need to think about:

The material or monetary worth of the reward – Does your reward offer a discount on the RRP?

The rarity, novelty, perceived worth or usefulness of the reward – Does your reward offer something that is unavailable elsewhere? Is your reward something your backers will find particularly useful?

The value of the reward compared to the price asked for it – Is your reward good value for money? Does it feel like a bargain compared to similar products?

Your rewards can offer value in any mixture of the following ways:

  • physical – backers receive the product itself, or other physical rewards
  • creative – backers having input into the project, like suggestions, voting, testing etc.
  • experiential – backers receive an experience set up by the project creator (an activity, performance, entertainment, event, conversation etc.)
  • sentimental – aimed at friends & family as a show of their support
  • personalisation – backers pay to have themselves, their loved ones or their requests included in the project / product in some way
  • exclusivity – backers have special access to the project/product. This might include some rewards only being available to backers, backers receiving VIP treatment and the value of being an early-adopter
  • social capital – sense of ownership and/or pride in being involved, a ‘badge’ of approval of the connection to you and your project

One of the most valuable rewards for backers is that they are creating a special (direct) connection to you (the project creator) and your project – in the words of Sally Outlaw of Crowdfunding Academy “You are the reward”.

Design rewards at different tiers

This video offers a run through of a number of common reward tiers to consider when designing your backer rewards and perks. Some backers can spare £100, some £20, some £5 or less. Make sure that you are offering something worthwhile at each of these levels (or tiers). Every one of those backers counts, and you need to offer them a way to back your project, no matter their budget.

Crowdfunding rewards – DOs & DON’Ts:


  • Leave designing your rewards to the last minute
  • Offer rewards for less than the cost of manufacture, packaging, and shipping
  • Over-promise, or back yourself into a corner with your stated delivery timeline
  • Assume that everyone will be willing to pay over market value to support your project
  • Assume that no-one will be willing to pay over market value to support your project
  • Offer rewards that you yourself would not be interested in as a backer
  • Expect that people will want to just ‘donate’ to your project, or will be satisfied with a cheap rewards (thank yous, simple badges, pens, postcards etc) for pledges of £5 or more
  • Offer too many different rewards or offer distracting rewards
  • Violate the policies of the platform you are using on what can / can’t be offered as rewards (see guidelines on these links for Kickstarter, Indiegogo & Crowdfunder)

DO :

  • Include rewards at all key price points (see the video above for more info)
  • Test out your rewards BEFORE you launch with people in your target audience
  • SHOW backers what they will receive using pictures (even if it is just a mock-up): people want to see what they will be backing, and this will help to swing many backers, allowing them to imagine enjoying the finished product
  • Ask yourself: Would this reward appeal to me (if I was a potential backer)?
  • Ask yourself: Is the reward priced fairly? How does it compare with what is available elsewhere (competitors’ products / market value)?
  • Give yourself LOTS of extra time for production and delivery, and surprise your backers with early delivery (instead of annoying them by being late!)
  • Beware of changing your RRP after the campaign: the £5 app that ends up on public release for £1, or charging for access to something that will be available for free is frustrating for backers
  • Consider exclusives: offering limited editions, or certain rewards for a limited time. Treat your campaign like a pop-up type shop and generate excitement around your campaign related to this
  • Limit availability of your higher tier rewards (to just a few) to create greater demand

Crowdfunding rewards – Calculating your margin:

Spending time to calculate the margin (profit) on each of your crowdfunding reward tiers is really important – that can mean the difference between actually raising money, breaking even, or perhaps ending up in debt after your crowdfunding campaign.

The margin is the difference between the cost of producing your rewards (including the materials, time, and any other costs) and the ‘selling price’ of your rewards to backers. If the costs of production are higher than the cost of the reward to a backer, you will end up in debt (or losing money) by delivering the rewards.

Remember – sometimes the costs of production will go down when you produce a higher number of the rewards. For example, if you order 10 badges from an online merch producer they might cost 50p each, but if you order 50 badges, this per unit cost may go down to 10p each, which would give you a far higher margin.

A thank you £1 £0 £1
2 x badges (+P&P) £5 £3 £2
Basic Product (+P&P) £29 £14 £15
Customised Version
of the product
£75 £55 £20
Superfan Hamper #1
£100 £65 £35
Superfan Hamper #2
£100 £85 £15
Patron Package £1000 £600 £400

Crowdfunding rewards – Brainstorming Tips:

  • Browse other projects in your category
    What are project creators offering as rewards? And at what pledge levels? How many people are backing each of the pledge levels? Which rewards are most costly for creators to produce? Which rewards are cheapest / easiest to produce? Which rewards have the highest margin?
  • Browse projects in other categories
    What things do project creators in other areas offer? In what ways to they present their rewards? Which rewards are the most attractive to you as a passing potential backer (rather than someone embedded in this community)?
  • Ask for help
    Gather ideas and input from friends and family and (especially) from people in your target audience.
  • Try using ‘backer personas’
    Use data and market research to generate ‘personas‘ to help work out what might be attractive to your target backers, by understanding their lifestyle, their goals, desires, likes and dislikes.

Further Reading:

Have I missed something? Do you have a great crowdfunding tip that I should include here too? Or examples of really creative crowdfunding rewards? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet me @RachelDobbs1 and I’ll include it in a future post!!

You can read more crowdfunding hints and tips here, and check out this post on Building your crowdfunding team for more ideas on how to get started.

New to crowdfunding?
Check out my quick start guide to crowdfunding!!

Quick start crowdfunding beginners guide

Rachel Dobbs is one half of LOW PROFILE, an artist and educator based in Plymouth, UK. Rachel works on a range of arts and education projects, has a long-term interest in creative approaches to community development and runs workshops, teaching & training sessions for a range of formal & informal groups including students, arts practitioners and communities – contact me for more details.


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