Posted: Sep 07, 2014 8:00 AM
Kickstarter helps bring creative projects to life. Curious about the nitty-gritty details behind Kickstarter? We've got you covered with the hows, the whys and the Kickstarter success stories you need to know about. Kickstarter is changing the face of dream chasing — and getting.
Photo credit: Mario Ragma/Hemera/360/Getty Images

Kickstarter is full of projects big and small that are brought to life through the direct support of everyday people — like you. Since Kickstarter's launch in 2009, 6.6 million people have pledged $1 billion, funding 65,000 creative projects. Kickstarter's tagline is: Passion, ideas and ambition abound. Just these five words strung together sounds like something inspiring is about to happen, doesn't it? What's amazing about Kickstarter is it places the ability to put dreams into action in your own hands.

Stephanie L. Jones is the president of Giving Gal, LLC, a company that provides life coaching services and motivational speaking to assist people in learning how to live a bold life and establish and accomplish big dreams. She explains, "Eight years ago when I started my organizing business I had to take money from my savings and pray I made it back. Many people have great ideas, but don't have the funds to 'kick start' their dreams. If you're concise in what you want funded, have a plan and there's a need or an interest in your idea — go for it. I think the biggest thing I love about Kickstarter is it not only helps dreamers get the funds to launch, but it brings accountability. The people who support you believe in you and think you'll be successful. You need to believe in yourself and think, if I'm taking someone else's hard-earned money, I will succeed."

Project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen.

Mozart, Beethoven, Whitman, Twain and other artists funded works in similar ways — not just with help from large patrons, but by soliciting money from smaller patrons, often called subscribers. In return for their support, these subscribers might have received an early copy or special edition of the work. Kickstarter is an extension of this model, turbocharged by the web.

Kickstarter is a home for everything from films, games and music to art, design and technology. Kickstarter is simply a platform and a resource; they're not involved in the development of the projects themselves. Anyone can launch a project on Kickstarter as long as it meets their guidelines. Project creators set a funding goal and deadline. If people like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen.

Kickstarter's rules are simple:

  • Projects must create something to share with others.
  • Projects must be honest and clearly presented.
  • Projects can’t fundraise for charity, offer financial incentives or involve prohibited items.
  • You have to meet your whole goal to receive any money, so your backers aren't charged unless you meet your goal. To date, an impressive 44 percent of projects have reached their funding goals.
  • Every Kickstarter project has a project page with a video and description that clearly explains the story behind the project.
  • Every Kickstarter project offers rewards that backers will receive when the project is completed.
  • And every Kickstarter page publishes updates that share the creative journey as the project comes to life.
  • If your project is successfully funded, Kickstarter applies a five percent fee to the total funds raised. There are additional credit card processing fees (about three to five percent) and every project’s tax situation is different and needs to be considered. You should set your goal to the minimum amount you need to fund your project plus a small cushion to consider these fees.

And that's really it. Kickstarter is an independent company of 81 people based in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. They simply believe that creative projects make for a better world so they help support new ones. Building a community of backers around an idea is an amazing way to make something new.

Kickstarter projects of note


Jessica Watson's Soon is a children's book that takes the reader on the hopeful journey of being born a preemie, the ups and downs of NICU life and, finally, coming home. Watson says, "There was no book to describe our journey. One of our daughters passed away during her first week of life and our surviving son and daughter spent nearly three months fighting for their lives... Soon tells the story of a baby born too soon and a baby who will come home… soon."

Goal: $4,000
Raised: $4,400
Backer rewards: Postcards, ebooks and first edition signed books.

Little Free Library

The Little Free Library Project began in 2009 when Todd Bol built a small structure, a glorified birdhouse if you will, and filled it with books in honor of his late mother, a school teacher and avid reader. He placed the structure on his front lawn with a sign encouraging curious visitors to: "Take a Book. Leave a Book." The spirit of the project, which aims to promote literacy and community, spread quickly and today there are an estimated 10,000 libraries nationally and even internationally. Sarah Maxey set a modest goal of bringing one Little Free Library to Winston Salem, North Carolina, and ended up funding many Little Free Libraries in her own area, at least one in a community that was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy and then donating an immeasurable amount to The Little Free Library nonprofit.

Goal: $175
Raised: $10,400
Backer rewards: Facebook shoutout, bookmarks, dedication book sticker with your name, your name inscribed in the library structure itself.

One Million Lovely Letters

Fifteen months ago Jodi Ann Bickley started the online project One Million Lovely Letters. The concept is startlingly simple and lovely. Bickley says, "After a brain infection and a suspected mini stroke in late 2011, I had been diagnosed with pretty severe M.E which meant I could no longer work my two jobs and had to spend a lot of time either in bed or in the house. I wanted to create something to get up for, something that would ignite my spirit. So I created the website within 20 minutes and stated that if you were having a bad day, I would hand write you a lovely letter. The letter you’d want from your best friend on your worst day. I put the website link on Facebook and Twitter and within an hour I had received over 100 emails from all over the globe. People who were in their own storm clouds and going through their own battles were reaching out to me and since that day my whole life has changed. In the last 15 months I have written just over 3,000 letters, to people in 30 countries with a further 4,000 requests in my inbox — a number that is growing daily. The website has been viewed in just over 150 countries and the project has made headlines in the UK, America, Australia and Greece."

Goal: $17,000
Raised: $24,000
Backer rewards: Gratitude, a thank you email, a holiday card, a website mention.

Dancing in Jaffa

Renowned ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine takes his belief that dance can overcome political and cultural differences and applies it to 11-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israelis. What occurs is magical and transformative. Dulaine believes if we can change the children, we can change the future. Dulaine says, "Ballroom dance teaches life skills: etiquette, self-esteem, discipline and confidence. Most importantly, it teaches self-respect and respect for your partner. When Pierre started the program, the children were spitting on each other. At the end of 10 weeks, they were holding each other and respecting each other." Dulaine documented this journey via his film, Dancing in Jaffa. He says, "We have the ability to touch thousands of lives with this film and convert old conversations into new partnerships and community. Although the film takes place in Jaffa, racism, hatred and prejudice are global issues. This is a film about the power of art in a community with deep-seated resentment and prejudice."

Goal: $35,000
Raised: $49,000
Backer rewards: Signed postcards, thank you email, digital download of the film, DVD of the film, a T-shirt, a phone call with the director, a line credit in the film, reserved seats at the screening and private screenings.


Not every Kickstarter project tackles a social issue — Super Hero capes, 100 percent recycled pencils and concert tours have all been "Kickstarted." The idea is simply dream chasing. And I included the Backer Reward examples to show that at the heart of things, Kickstarter is about ditching the ever-popular "What's in it for me?" for the overwhelmingly inspiring, "I believe in you." A simple thank you is quite often reward enough.

More on the power of social media

Verizon video shows what happens when you tell a girl she's pretty
Twitter responds to shootings with the most important conversation of the year
Tux-wearing girl changes Catholic high school's dress code