What is crowdfunding?
The idea behind crowdfunding can be compared to pre-orders - a special kind of pre-order. In crowdfunding, you can influence the end product result and decide how much money you want to give to support it. The more you give, the more you get.
Crowdfunding is based on an idea. A creator shares it with the community to get their support in funding and realization. It becomes a group project in which everyone has a say about the final form of the project. The creator gets to determine not just whether there is an audience for their concept but also how that audience's opinion might influence the idea as well.
A crowdfunding platform isn't a store. It's a place where creators can show their ideas to the community without necessarily showing the final product, as its form may change over time. In the case of crowdfunding, backers have a real influence on the product's final form.
You support the project by pledging, and the creators offer something in return for your contribution. You choose the pledge options that seem the most interesting to you. The content of the project is described on the project page. The higher the pledge, the more rewards you receive for contributing to the project. Many of these rewards can be limited, representing some degree of exclusive items, early access, lower pricing, as well as many other compelling reasons to support the project, aside from being a part of the journey and having a say in the process. Once you pledge, you become a backer.
Gamefound is not a store
Remember that pledging doesn't mean buying. A project is not a buyable item but an idea that can come to life. Backers can pledge to it to make it happen and then receive rewards. In short, you contribute to an idea that may or may not materialize.
Before a crowdfunding campaign launches, the creator can create a preview and collect feedback from the community. It is during this time that projects are initially shown to backers. Previews give creators time to adapt, so remember that what you see might be very different from the final version. You can't pledge to the project yet, but you can get a notification about its launch.
At this stage, a project becomes available for backers to pledge to it. When you go to the project page, you can see what rewards the creator offers for a specific pledge. As long as the campaign is active, you can change your pledge, add some items or cancel it. You won't be charged until the campaign ends successfully.
Explaining all steps
Ok, so let's say that you want to support a project. To do so, you have to pledge to it. What does that mean? A pledge is a promise that you'll pay the declared amount given in the pledge once the crowdfunding campaign ends successfully. Let's pledge! You can find all the pledge options (rewards) on the main page of the crowdfunding site. Once you select a reward and declare the amount you want to support the project with, you'll be asked to provide payment information (usually debit/credit card details). And that's it. You will be charged only if the campaign reaches its goal (or exceeds it).
When the project is launched, the creator declares its goal - the amount of funds needed to make the project happen. When the goal is reached, backers are charged for their pledges. But reaching the campaign's goal is not the end of crowdfunding. This is when stretch goals step in. Stretch goals are additional targets for the campaign. They include freebies, extensions, upgraded quality of the product, etc. Each stretch goal is a reward for meeting a threshold, often backer numbers or reaching a specific funding level.
Apart from rewards, you can also add different items to your pledge. Creators sometimes offer add-ons, such as fan items, game expansions, and gadgets like sleeves and playmats. These are items that are not included in rewards but can be added on their own. They are usually not necessary to fully enjoy rewards, but some can certainly provide extra fun to the product.
So, you pledged to a project and added payment details, but no one asked for your address. Why? Because the road from pledging to shipping can be very long. Backers are asked to provide this information in the pledge manager, not in the crowdfunding stage, because many things can happen in the meantime. Shipping cost is defined before the pledge manager phase.
Once the campaign ends successfully, the creator can enable the option to back or continue to support the project after the crowdfunding stage. At this point, the shipping cost may not yet be defined, but a backer can contribute to a project that's already been funded, often with the same or similar rewards available.
The pledge manager is opened by the creator once the fulfillment costs are known. In the pledge manager, you can choose and manage the content of your pledge. You can also add more items. Apart from that, the pledge manager is where you provide shipping details, choose the shipping method, and pay for it.
Crowdfunding doesn't work like a store. You don't receive the product right after pledging. In crowdfunding, the process of creating a product takes time because the community influences its final form. Remember that the creator is responsible for the project, and we are here to facilitate the crowdfunding process. You can always contact the creator directly and ask any questions you have about the campaign. There is a possibility that the campaign may not reach its goal. If this is the case, you won't lose anything, as backers aren't charged if a campaign fails.