What Happens if a Kickstarter Fails? Understanding the Risks

kickstarter failure and consequences

Coincidentally, just as you were considering launching your own Kickstarter, you stumbled upon the harsh realities of what happens if it fails. When a campaign doesn't meet its funding goal, you're left without the pledged funds, forcing you to cover expenses out of pocket. This financial strain is just the beginning; your credibility with backers takes a hit, and your brand reputation could suffer. The emotional impact shouldn't be underestimated either. So, how do you navigate these challenges and turn a failed Kickstarter into a learning experience for future success?

Main Points

  • Creators do not receive any pledged funds if the campaign fails.
  • Backers are automatically refunded, and their pledges are not charged.
  • Creators may face financial strain due to unrecovered project expenses.
  • A failed campaign can damage the creator's credibility and brand reputation.
  • Failure should be viewed as a learning opportunity to improve future campaigns.

How Kickstarter Works

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that lets you support projects by pledging money to help creators achieve their financial goals. When you back a project on Kickstarter, you help bring an idea to life. Creators set a funding goal, the amount they need to realize their project. Your pledge, along with those from other backers, helps reach this goal.

If the project doesn't meet its funding goal, you won't be charged. Creators only receive funds if they hit their target, safeguarding your money from being wasted on projects that can't proceed. Kickstarter takes a 5% fee from successful campaigns, and third-party payment processors take another 3-5%.

Research campaigns before pledging. Understand the inherent risks. Creators must maintain good communication with backers throughout the campaign. If a project fails, they might adjust the scope and try again.

This system empowers you to support innovative ideas while protecting your financial contribution, ensuring freedom in how you choose to spend your money.

Immediate Aftermath of Failure

When a Kickstarter campaign fails, creators immediately face the reality of not receiving any pledged funds. This means the effort put into reaching the funding goal falls short, and no money changes hands. For backers, this is a relief as their pledges aren't charged. For creators, it can be a tough pill to swallow.

You might feel disappointment and frustration. The financial loss isn't just about the missing funds but also the money and time already invested in preparing the campaign. Yet, don't let this setback define your future endeavors. View it as a learning opportunity.

Communication remains key. Inform your backers why the project didn't meet its goal and outline your next steps. This transparency maintains their trust and support for any future campaigns. Reflect on what worked and what didn't. Adjust your strategies, refine your pitch, and consider backer feedback.

Failure isn't the end; it's a step toward improvement. By understanding where things went wrong, you can better position yourself for success in your next venture.

Financial Implications

When a Kickstarter project fails to reach its funding goal, creators face financial strain due to disrupted budgets and lost investments. Backers, on the other hand, are automatically refunded, which means they won't lose any money.

Understanding these financial implications is crucial for both creators and backers to manage their expectations and plan for potential setbacks.

Creator's Financial Strain

Creatives face immense financial strain when a Kickstarter campaign fails to meet its funding goals. In such cases, they don't receive any pledged money, compelling them to cover project expenses from their own pockets. This financial pressure is especially severe if they've already invested in prototypes, marketing, or other preliminary expenses.

Here's a snapshot of how a failed campaign impacts creators:

Aspect Impact
Unmet Funding Goals No funds received for expenses
Unresolved Costs Out-of-pocket for initial investments
Personal Finances Strain on savings and resources

A lack of funding dampens creative ambitions, making future projects or ventures harder to pursue. Sunk costs, such as money already spent, become burdens, and the time invested feels wasted. Creators might also miss other opportunities while tied up in a failed campaign.

Understanding these financial implications helps mitigate risks and plan for future endeavors. Having a backup plan, like setting aside savings or seeking alternative funding sources, will cushion the blow if a Kickstarter doesn't succeed.

Backer Refund Process

Kickstarter's all-or-nothing model offers a straightforward refund process that protects backers financially when a project fails to meet its funding goals. You're only charged if the project reaches its target. If it doesn't, the funds you pledged are returned automatically.

This automatic refund mechanism ensures transparency and trust between you and the project creators. You don't need to initiate a refund yourself; Kickstarter's system handles everything. This setup minimizes any financial risk while supporting innovative ideas.

Emotional Impact

A Kickstarter failure can deeply affect creators, disrupting their confidence and motivation. The emotional toll can be significant, impacting overall well-being. Feelings of failure and frustration often arise, leading to doubts about future projects. These emotions are normal and part of the journey.

Resilience and a positive mindset are key to coping with this setback. Acknowledging your feelings and viewing failure as a learning opportunity rather than a dead end is essential. Self-reflection aids in processing these emotions and discovering ways to recover stronger. The focus should be on your response to the failure, not the failure itself.

Support from peers, mentors, and the Kickstarter community offers valuable perspectives and encouragement. Sharing your experience with others who've faced similar challenges can be reassuring. They can provide insights and coping strategies that help you navigate this difficult period.

While the emotional impact of a Kickstarter failure can be challenging, maintaining passion and perseverance is crucial. By addressing your emotions directly and seeking support, you can move forward with renewed strength and determination.

Learning From Failure

When your Kickstarter campaign fails, it's a chance to understand what went wrong and make improvements.

You can analyze the project's shortcomings to identify weaknesses and adjust your future strategies.

Analyzing Project Shortcomings

Identifying why your Kickstarter campaign failed is key to improving future efforts. Kickstarter failures often stem from setting unrealistic goals or lacking an effective marketing strategy. Assess whether your project's funding goals were realistic. Were you asking for too much without a clear plan? Realistic goals build backers' trust.

Evaluate your marketing efforts. Did you effectively reach your target audience? Did your content clearly communicate your project's value? If your marketing was weak, pinpoint specific areas for improvement.

Backer feedback offers insights. Were there common complaints or suggestions? This feedback highlights weaknesses in your project or presentation. Low engagement might indicate that your project didn't resonate with potential backers.

Reflect on your communication strategies, project presentation, and reward structures. Were they clear and appealing? Learning from these shortcomings will help you avoid similar mistakes in future campaigns.

Adjusting Future Strategies

Adjusting Future Strategies

Adjusting future strategies starts with insights from a failed Kickstarter campaign. Analyzing feedback and data helps pinpoint why the campaign didn't meet its goal. Was the project presentation unclear? Was the funding goal too high? Or did you fail to engage your target audience? Identifying these issues is the first step in learning from failure.

Successful Kickstarter campaigns result from refining your approach. Use insights from the failed campaign to boost project visibility and set achievable goals. This might involve reevaluating marketing tactics, improving communication with backers, or refining the project's value proposition.

Understanding why a Kickstarter failed allows you to make informed decisions and pivot effectively. A different marketing strategy or clearer communication plan might resonate better with potential backers. Adapting future strategies increases your chances of success in future crowdfunding endeavors.

Strategies for Future Success

Boosting the success of future Kickstarter campaigns involves adjusting funding goals, enhancing project presentation, and targeting specific audiences. Setting realistic funding goals that match your project's needs will make the target more achievable for backers, thereby improving campaign outcomes.

Enhancing project presentation is key. Use high-quality images, engaging videos, and clear descriptions to attract backers. Showcase your passion and the benefits of your project to create a compelling narrative.

Targeting specific audiences ensures your campaign reaches genuinely interested people. Utilize social media, PR strategies, and regular updates to engage with your audience. Interacting with backers keeps them invested in your project's success.

Consult experts or leverage technology and AI tools to optimize your campaign's performance. Learn from past failures and implement improvements to boost future success. Stay updated on tech trends and explore success stories for additional insights.

Following these strategies will increase your chances of a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens if Kickstarter Project Fails?

If your Kickstarter project fails, you won't access the pledged funds, and backers' money is returned. You might need to adjust your plans or relaunch. Keep communication open with backers to maintain their trust and interest.

What Happens if a Kickstarter Goal Is Not Reached?

If a Kickstarter goal isn't reached, you won't get charged for your pledge, and the project creators won't receive any funds. They might need to adjust their plans or relaunch. Open communication is essential.

What Happens if a Kickstarter Payment Fails?

If a Kickstarter payment fails, you won't be charged, and the creator won't get any funds. Backers' pledges aren't debited, and the money stays safe in an escrow account. Legal recourse is limited, so choose projects wisely.

How to Get Money Back From Failed Kickstarter?

You don't need to do anything to get your money back from a failed Kickstarter. Kickstarter's all-or-nothing policy ensures your funds are automatically refunded. You're free to support other projects without worry.


If your Kickstarter campaign fails, it's crucial to understand the risks and learn from the experience.

For instance, Jane Doe's failed board game project taught her valuable lessons in market research and budgeting. By analyzing her mistakes, she successfully relaunched and funded her project on a second attempt.

Remember, failure isn't the end; it's an opportunity to grow. Use these insights to refine your strategy, build stronger campaigns, and increase your chances of future success.


CrowdLift is a go-to author for anyone looking to learn about crowdfunding on the web. He breaks down the big idea of raising money online into easy steps. Crowdlift loves the industry and wants to help creators, entrepreneurs, and dreamers. Crowdlift is nspired by the big names in crowdfunding, such as: Sheridan Bartlett: He knows a lot about the best ways to run a crowdfunding campaign, and his advice has helped lots of projects succeed. Anna Makes Money: She focuses on teaching women about money and how to use crowdfunding. She's helped many women start their own businesses. Keep up with the newest trends to bring you helpful articles, detailed analyses of campaigns, and opinions from pros. Whether you've run a crowdfunding campaign before or are just thinking about starting one, Crowdlift is here to help you understand and succeed in the exciting world of crowdfunding.