One of the reasons crowdfunding works is the concept of reciprocity.

That is, you are not just asking for a donation, you are giving something in return to say ‘thank you’ as well.

Research has been done on what makes great crowdfunding rewards. Here are our top tips:

Aim for 7 reward levels

Michael C. Neel broke down the data from over 50,000 crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter and came up with some trends for success. He came to the conclusion that 7 is the ideal number of crowdfunding reward levels. It’s about choice. You want to offer the Backers options, but not so many that they get overwhelmed and confused. Too few crowdfunding rewards limit the appeal of your project. On the other hand, providing too much choice can make the decision harder, and therefore result in no decision at all.

Start low, finish high


Some people will want to support you, but might not have a lot to give. £5 is a great place to start your crowdfunding rewards. Equally, if you don’t have a super-high crowdfunding reward, you could be throwing money away. The key thing to remember is people will pay what you ask for, so pricing is important. You might find it hard to believe that someone will give you thousands of dollars for your project – perhaps no one will – but it’s not unheard of for people to make £5,000, or even £10,000 donations to causes when they connect with the story, or really want the crowdfunding reward. Think big, it might just pay off!

£25 is the magic number


Another awesome piece of information that came out of Michael C. Neel’s study was that the £25 level is the most popular. That was backed up when Kickstarter released this data in 2015. There is a caveat to this reward, however. You can get away with a thank you on social media, or Backer updates at lower levels, but at £25, people expect something of substance. That can be a download, or a product, or an experience, but it must be of worth.

Think strategically

Try and structure your rewards so you can hit the 10% and 30% marks as soon as possible.

These are the numbers that have been found to be critical in gaining momentum.

Kelly owns a limited edition collectible that she knew her best friend really wanted.

Her research also showed her there was demand for the collectible online. Kelly decided to offer it as a one-off crowdfunding reward. Once she’d made the decision to let it go, she hinted to her friend that it would be for sale soon. She casually mentioned that she had done some research about selling it.

When designing her rewards, Kelly priced the collectible at 10% of the total budget. Kelly made sure her friend was the first person to get the link to the campaign. Just as Kelly had hoped, her friend couldn’t resist – meaning her first Backer took her to 10% of her target!

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Digital is awesome

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Digital rewards – particularly downloads – are easy for you, and cheap to provide. They’re also something that people want. Even if you are planning to give away digital copies of your project free to the public down the line, consider offering your Backers a download in advance. Think about how you can quickly and easily distribute your reward after your project has ended. You want to get on with your education, not writing and mailing 100 postcards!

Be original

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Yes, studying other similar projects is a good way to come up with crowdfunding rewards, but original ideas sell. Your primary goal is to make your Backers think “I love this project, and I have got to have that!” You are original and unique. So is your project. You can come up with ideas that are also original and unique.

People love experiences

Whether it be coffee with you, their name in a research paper, or a Backer-event, people love to be part of something. A simple and effective way to do this is to offer an experience. You can limit the number of people able to take part, you can make it a group thing (to use the economy of scale) and you can price an experience highly. Experiences are generally pretty cheap to provide, and are nearly always an attractive option to your Backers. In most cases, there is also no postage to think about – the Backers have to make their way to you.

Things to note

  • Make sure you can fulfill your promises. Think about how you will deliver the reward to the Backer before you publish your project.
  • Consider the cost. Some crowdfunding rewards will cost you money to provide. This means you’ll need to do a little budgeting first – we’ll talk about that in the next section.
  • Price digital rewards below £25. The £25, £50, and £100 rewards will be your most popular, so ensure that they are interesting.
  • Experiences can be priced highly. The more they cost, the more personalized they should be to your Backer.

Kelly took the time to mind-map all her crowdfunding reward ideas.

Here’s her draft list of crowdfunding rewards:

£5 – Thank you – Backers will receive regular updates via email, and my eternal gratitude!

£10 – A digital copy of my PhD paper.

£25 – A box of my famous triple-chocolate-chip cookies. Warning: these are very, very good and extremely addictive! Plus, regular updates via email and a digital copy of my PhD paper.

£50 – Named in the acknowledgements of my PhD. Plus, regular updates via email, and a digital copy of my PhD paper

£100 – Back again – if you back me at this level, I will commit to pledging £100 to another student on StudentBackr once I get my first job after my PhD. Plus, regular updates via email, and a digital copy of my PhD paper – with your name in the acknowledgements.

£250 – Super-collectable level. I am THIS committed to my goal. I love this, but I am even more dedicated to success. Want my awesome collectable? First in, first served. Plus, regular updates via email, and a digital copy of my PhD paper – with your name in the acknowledgements.

£500 – Let’s hang out! I’ll take you for a coffee and we can have a chat – about the weather, study, being a student, environmental issues, or the future of our planet! Plus, regular updates via email, and a digital copy of my PhD paper – with your name in the acknowledgements.

£1000 – I’ll thank you in every book I write, every study or science article I publish, every movie they write based on the true events of my life (and starring Jennifer Lawrence haha!). Plus, regular updates via email, and a digital copy of my PhD paper – with your name in the acknowledgements.

For more crowdfunding reward ideas check out our Rewards page!