Rewards, done correctly, provide the motivation for many in the crowd to support projects. OK, in the case of charitable or community projects, the motivator is quite often the shared passion or the ultimate good that will be achieved by the delivery of the project outcome, but in the case of commercial projects, it is the reward that, in many cases, will prompt the project supporter to open their wallet in a show of support.
The type of reward offered does not necessarily need to be determined by the kind of project being run, but given the need to connect with the target audience, there should be a relationship between the project and rewards to be had, even if it is a distant relationship.
For some projects, coming up with rewards is a relatively easy task. Take the example of the author who seeks to raise funds to publish a book. The rewards generally flow as freely as they words they have written in their manuscript. The first tier being a thank you card, then an autographed copy of the book when printed, stepping up to printed acknowledgements in the book, and then perhaps even naming a character after some of the contributors of more significant pledges.
Other projects, again those of more of a commercial nature, can prove challenging to find the right motivators to get the crowd to part with their hard earned dollars. Finding the right inducements for a project about (say) a new type of commercial kitchen hotplate can prove challenging. Again, this is where the reward does not have to be determined by the project, but given the passion and interest of the audience, it is best to ultimately align the rewards to the wants of the crowd. In this case, the potential supporters, in the main, will not want a commercial cooking element, but there may be a lot of interest around the world of cooking, so rewards may include cookbooks signed by famous chefs, invitations to exclusive dinners catered by chefs of note, and such items that would motivate the crowd more so than the output of the project itself.
Whether the reward chosen is something tangible, or perhaps an intangible option (offering a great experience rather than an exciting item), the key is offering something of value, and for the project creator to connect with and motivate the audience. Value is not all about price, so it is not about giving away something at a hugely reduced outlay. It is about how sought after and treasured the reward is. All efforts should be made to value add – a limited release item, that autographed or personalised reward, privileged position or exclusive access – all of these move away from the price of the reward and become far more sought after from an emotive perspective.
And, finally, never underestimate the value of delivering social kudos as a reward. Recognition on social media sites, acknowledgement in the credits, offering naming rights, or a mention on an honour board are just some rewards that cost little, but will inspire many in the crowd to pledge their support. Despite the nature of the project, these types of rewards resonate with the project supporters who want to be involved and want to engage.