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The Kickstarter Blog

Support Creative Work for Its Own Sake. Back It Because You Believe in It.

Nov 29 2019

This Black Friday and beyond, back a project for no reward, just because it speaks to you.

Today is Black Friday in the United States, and next week, online stores around the world will be flooded with shoppers for Cyber Monday. Here at Kickstarter, we’re marking the start of the holiday season with a campaign of our own, encouraging our community to support a creator’s project and process. This holiday season, you’re invited to back it because you believe in it.

There are a million and one reasons to back a project on Kickstarter, and getting a great reward is only one of them. Sometimes you just want to show a creator you believe in their work, without getting something in return. Last year alone, over 200,000 people backed projects on Kickstarter for no reward, pledging over $15 million to help creators bring their projects to life. That’s what we want to celebrate this season.

Going “rewardless” is rewarding 

If you haven’t pledged to a project for no reward before, here are a few reasons why you might want to start:

  • Be a champion of culture. When you support a project on Kickstarter, you’re helping bold, inventive new work get made—work that may have an impact on culture for years to come. (Fleabag, anyone?) 
  • Send out good vibes. Your support will make a creator’s day, without increasing their shipping budget. 
  • Watch the creative process unfold. Creators use project updates to share a behind-the-scenes look at the process of bringing their project to life—and to celebrate with backers when their work is out in the world. When you back a project, you’re signed up to receive these updates via email. 
  • Go minimal. Consider this an opportunity to KonMari your Kickstarter rewards. 
  • Get a social shout-out. Use the hashtag #backeditbecause to let people know why you supported a particular project. We just might retweet you!

Your support makes independent creative work possible 

You’ve probably seen our message that Kickstarter is not a store; it’s a way to help bring creative projects to life. When you back a project on Kickstarter, you're helping to bring new creative work into the world—work that might never exist without your support.

Many creators use Kickstarter because they want complete independence, free from creative interference, or because industry gatekeepers have overlooked their work. Your support lets creators make the work they want to make, exactly the way they want to make it. 

Join us in supporting creative work for its own sake this holiday season. Use the hashtag #backeditbecause on social media to let everyone know what projects you’re supporting and why they’re important to you.

Product Upgrade: Create and Share a Project Budget

Nov 19 2019

Creators can now make and share a budget for their project directly from the Kickstarter project editor.

Back in August we introduced a simple Funding Calculator that gives creators more insight into project costs that are sometimes forgotten, like taxes and fees. Today we’re rolling out a much more robust tool to help with project planning. And we’ve given it a no-nonsense name: Project Budget.

Project Budget is essentially a budgeting spreadsheet that’s available from the Funding tab in the project editor. Creators can use it to map out the cost of their entire project, from prototyping and R&D to packaging and shipping. Once they’ve done this, they have the option of sharing a custom graph of their budget data in a new section of the project page.

We want to make sure that creators have the resources they need to work out how much funding it will take to bring their creative ideas to life. Project Budget provides some structure for this, and reminds creators of important expenses they may not have considered, such as the cost of paying themselves and team members.

We also want creators to be able to provide their backers with more clarity and insight into how they plan to spend the funds they raise on Kickstarter. We hope that this feature will give backers a sense of where their pledges are going, and how much it actually costs to bring an idea to life.

Since Kickstarter’s launch we’ve seen many creators independently create and share budget information and charts with their backers. This new feature will make it easier for more creators to follow those examples and give their campaigns greater transparency. We’re making the feature available for projects in the Design and Technology categories to start, but we plan to offer budget templates tailored for other categories in the near future.

Project Budget is part of what we’re calling The Cost to Create, a suite of tools and content focused on the funding needed to make an idea a reality. Looking ahead, we’d like to give creators the ability to share how they’re actually spending their funds in the “making” phase of their campaign, as compared to the initial budget they set.

We’ll have access to the budget information for all projects that use this feature, and we think there are really exciting resources we can build by aggregating this data. This is one way we can use the real-world experiences of creators to help to take some of the guesswork out of planning projects.

Moor Mother, Lightning Bolt, Stroom, and Príncipe Know That When It Comes to Creative Disciplines, More Is More

Nov 13 2019

On November 8, at 1 am, Icelandic pop icon Björk donned a spectacular mask and cocooned herself in an artificial jungle for a surprise DJ set on the smallest stage of Le Guess Who?, an art and music festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands.

This kind of multisensory experience is typical of the festival, which has grown into a premier destination for music and art discovery in Europe. Every year, the organizers pair their music lineup with exhibitions, film screenings, installations, and more to showcase performers’ creative interests beyond sound.

This urge to expand beyond one creative discipline was also the topic of conversation over the weekend at Kapitaal, a beloved DIY print shop and cultural hub, where Kickstarter and Le Guess Who? invited a series of multidisciplinary artists to transform the space into the official festival hangout and talk about working at the intersection of music and visual art: What skills apply to turning a visual idea into sound? How does music inform prose, poetry, and design? And how does one create collaborative spaces and lasting partnerships?

Here, Moor Mother, Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale, and the founders of Stroom and Príncipe Discos share insights from their creative journeys and advice for others who might be starting to stretch into a new creative medium.

Moor Mother’s approach to juggling—and triaging—creative ambitions 

Moor Mother at Le Guess Who?
Moor Mother at Le Guess Who?

Camae Ayewa, the noise poet and activist who goes by Moor Mother, is a true Renaissance woman: She’s just as comfortable collaborating with experimental electronic artists, free jazz ensembles, or the London Contemporary Orchestra as she is staging plays, publishing poetry zines, or scoring an installation for the Guggenheim. There seems to be no limit to Moor Mother’s curiosity and improvisational talents.

True to form, Ayewa juggled creating her latest album, Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes, with publishing a book of poetry and writing, directing, and performing in an avant-garde jazz musical called Circuit City. “It was hard, and I’m a crybaby anyways,” she says.

In order to even finish all three projects, she first had to embrace a certain pragmatism about stepping out of her comfort zone. “At first you have these really large ideas, and then you have to sculpt it down to reality. Like, how much money do you have? What can you actually do, who can you really involve? I continued to pull pieces away from this. An album, on the other hand, is [more] cut and dried. But things like a theater piece you can constantly morph and shape. Of course, working on it put me in an uncomfortable situation: I’ve never done this before, so it’s very uncomfortable to throw yourself in the unknown. But I knew I would grow and see things from a new perspective.”

Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale questions traditional art-world routes—and paves his own 

Chippendale shares off-the-cuff work at the Le Guess Who? Hangout
Chippendale shares off-the-cuff work at the Le Guess Who? Hangout

Brian Chippendale is the drummer and vocalist in the iconic (and violently loud) duo Lightning Bolt—a band he started while at the Rhode Island School of Design in the ’90s. Chippendale never graduated from RISD, and he threw a bag of roadkill from the roof of the main building for his last art performance there. “I think I was going for the controversial exit,” he says.

He hasn’t been afraid to insult or ignore art-world norms throughout his career. Instead of waiting to be granted spots in musical lineups or gallery shows, Chippendale and fellow artist Mat Brinkman created their own space, Fort Thunder, which served as a concert venue, rehearsal space, and permanent place of residence for many locals between 1995 and 2001.

“When we started, galleries and museums were shitty things we didn't want to deal with,” says Chippendale, “so turning a space into my own used to be even too much of a priority for me. Fort Thunder itself was the art form. A couple evictions later, it became harder to invest in these rental spaces. So over the years I got a little more conservative, like, ‘Why don't I paint on a canvas and hang it up instead of painting directly on the wall and saw it out of the cement?’”

He also questions the conventional wisdom that artists need to move to New York and schmooze their way to the top. He still resides in Providence, Rhode Island, now with his wife, fellow artist and RISD alumna Jungil Hong, and young son, and says being removed from the art scene’s epicenter grants him the space he needs to work in peace—and drum as loud as he wants.

"It's a great small city,” he says. “There have always been affordable, large spaces. I have an amazing studio that is fairly cheap. I can play music 24 hours a day there. I thought for a long time that I could live in Providence and work all the time and then [become] this famous art star in New York, like it's a little more challenging [to make it as an artist there]. But I think I could be a shittier artist and live in New York—and if you're charismatic enough you can go off.”

Stroom art director Nana Esi’s human storytelling gives forgotten albums fresh art 

Stroom, from Ostend, Belgium, is much more than a reissue label. The brainchild of label founder and A&R rep Ziggy Devriendt, aka Nosedrip, it focuses on unearthing obscure music, old and new, and telling those albums’ stories. In the process, Stroom is bridging the gap between local music histories and the future it’s actively helping to shape. 

Nosedrip joined us at Kapitaal to play a set of forthcoming releases and discuss how art director Nana Esi has made archival music a real strength for the label by telling forgotten creators’ stories with social and artistic tact. "She takes a lot of time to listen to the music and talk to the creators in advance,” Devriendt says. “She always gets elements for her designs that way. It would be way too obvious to just look at the visual identity the act already had when they first came out. Nana never does that. I think finding new angles is one of the biggest strengths of what we're doing."

A perfect example of this close and personal approach to collaboration is the cover art for Spring Break by Belgian band Pablo’s Eye. The sleeve shows overlapping scans of an unidentified biracial couple.

Nana Esi's album art for Pablo's Eye
Nana Esi's album art for Pablo's Eye

"These are Nana’s parents on the cover,” Devriendt says. “Her father had just passed away while we were finishing this project, so she was going through her parents’ old photos and scanned a lot of old pictures. It just felt right to use it. Their relationship also reflects the history of Pablo’s Eye’s core members, and the band was very happy with it. We’ve actually become close friends. The best projects I did could be measured by the social appreciation you get from the people whose music you are putting out."

Príncipe Discos creates an artistic movement based on friendships 

While the sounds of Príncipe cohorts like Nidia, Marfox, Niggafox, Firmeza, and many more explore the fringes of kuduro, techno, and all types of bass-heavy, unorthodox rhythms, the label’s visual language tackles themes of identity and historical violence in almost playful ways. 

During their three-day stint at Kapitaal, Nelson Gomes and Márcio Matos—the creative director and designer behind the record label’s artworks—turned the print shop into a dynamic exhibition and performance space that changed daily. 

Some of the visuals Príncipe Discos developed for the Le Guess Who? Hangout
Some of the visuals Príncipe Discos developed for the Le Guess Who? Hangout

For them, the visual agenda of a record label can only succeed if it is a direct aesthetic reflection of its roster. “Everything we have done is created for our artists,” said Gomes, “so the whole exhibition all of a sudden made sense when Nidia, Marfox, and Firmeza played here. All you see on the walls is an extension of them.”

For Márcio Matos, a trained painter who also runs the Flur record store in Lisbon, it took a while to accept that his politically charged paintings had to be intrinsically interwoven with his artworks for the label. “In the beginning I saw my visuals for the label as a very specific design project, so I separated my own work and the visual identity of Príncipe. Since then it’s been seven years, and at some point it upset me to keep up this divide. So I started to no longer give a fuck, and I let the iconography I use in my own works bleed into the label as well. I wouldn’t use the Príncipe logo face in my paintings, but you can you can absolutely see it’s the same artist.”

Aside from immediately recognizable imagery, the main reason why Príncipe has always felt like a movement rather than a label lies in the team’s crew mentality. It mirrors what Stroom says about measuring a release’s success by the value of the social interaction with your artist: A close bond is essential for venturing into new creative territories.

“We are all friends on this project: Nelson, André, Ze, and me. But also, we’re close friends with all of the artists we sign,” says Matos. “The Lisbon scene consists of a lot of different people with very different opinions. But our own ‘scene,’ if you will, happens one night per month at [the club] Music Box. There you will see what Príncipe is all about. You only get the real feel for it through the music and the visuals in combination with the DJs. They are who we do all of this for.”

Document This! 14 Kickstarted Films to Watch at DOC NYC This Month

Nov 6 2019
Pier Kids by Elegance Bratton
Pier Kids by Elegance Bratton

This year, DOC NYC—New York’s documentary film festival—celebrates its 10th anniversary. The festival, which includes more than 300 films, shows, and events, takes place at three Manhattan theaters, with dozens of special guests attending in person.

We’re proud to celebrate the accomplishments of the Kickstarter Film community, especially the 14 Kickstarter-funded works (14! Count ‘em!) that will be screened at the festival, which takes place November 6–15.

Blessed Child by Cara Jones
Blessed Child by Cara Jones

BLESSED CHILD
Director Cara Jones was brought up in the Unification Church of Reverend Sun Myung Moon—commonly known as the Moonies—where her parents are high-ranking members. After Jones separates from the church, she must come to terms with the shift in her relationship with her parents and with the impact of this unusual background on her family.
Sat Nov 9, 2019, 7:40 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea
Wed Nov 13, 2019, 10:15 AM | Cinepolis Chelsea

BOY HOWDY! THE STORY OF CREEM MAGAZINE
CREEM launched in 1969 Detroit as an irreverent upstart to rival the pre-eminent rock publication of the day, Rolling Stone. Boy Howdy! offers a riotous look back at CREEM‘s history, the dysfunctional family of outsiders behind its pages and its lasting impact on music and culture.
Wed Nov 13, 2019, 9:45 PM | SVA Theatre

BUSTER WILLIAMS BASS TO INFINITY
Jazz bassist Buster Williams played with Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Sarah Vaughan, Dexter Gordon, Chet Baker and Nancy Wilson, amongst others. Bass to Infinity spends some time with Williams and his present-day collaborators—Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Rufus Reid, Christian McBride, Carmen Lundy, Kenny Barron and more—in a toe-tapping celebration of the soul and magic of jazz.
Tue Nov 12, 2019, 7:25 PM | IFC Center
Thu Nov 14, 2019, 12:45 PM | IFC Center

BUSY INSIDE
Karen Marshall, a respected therapist who specializes in the treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder, has a unique perspective, as she juggles 17 personalities of her own. Director Olga Lvoff sensitively explores the intricacies of DID and the methods surrounding its treatment.
Fri Nov 8, 2019, 10:15 AM | Cinepolis Chelsea
Mon Nov 11, 2019, 5:00 PM | IFC Center

THE GREAT AMERICAN LIE
A timely look at the deep roots of systemic inequalities that have made possible the ever-widening income gap that threatens the fabric of our democracy. Cultural critics, academics and other notables explore the gendered nature of core American values and how this has contributed to making the American Dream an impossible goal for most.
Sat Nov 9, 2019, 12:25 PM | IFC Center

Hurdle by Michael Rowley
Hurdle by Michael Rowley

HURDLE
Two Palestinian youths strive for freedom and self-worth in a community consumed with violence. Sami, a parkour coach, leads leaping young men across the stunning cityscape of Jerusalem. Using creative outlets, Sami and Mohammad self-actualize a different way of living and inspire the next generation to dream beyond the politics of their conflicted land.
Wed Nov 13, 2019, 9:30 PM | IFC Center

Knock Down the House by Rachel Lears | Netflix
Knock Down the House by Rachel Lears | Netflix

KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
This film captures Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as she conducts a long-shot campaign for Congress while still working as a bartender. It also follows three other first-time female candidates, revealing that AOC’s effort wasn’t a fluke but part of a fervent grassroots movement.
Thu Nov 7, 2019, 2:45 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea
Mon Nov 11, 2019, 8:50 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea

LYDIA LUNCH - THE WAR IS NEVER OVER
American singer, writer and actress Lydia Lunch helped birth the No Wave music scene in the late 1970s and early ’80s—and she’s still killing it today. Fellow No Wave pioneer Beth B constructs a lively portrait of this innovative performer, whose confrontational artistry resonates loudly in today’s feminist landscape.
 Sat Nov 9, 2019, 7:05 PM | IFC Center

MR. TOILET: THE WORLD'S #2 MAN
When charismatic Singaporean millionaire Jack Sim learned that nearly a third of the world doesn’t have access to proper sanitation, he set out to make a difference through his World Toilet Foundation. Using humor to get attention for his cause, Sim plunges into his biggest challenge—securing six million toilets as part of India’s sanitation initiative.
Thu Nov 14, 2019, 7:30 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea

NARROWSBURG
In 1999, small town Narrowsburg, NY, was poised to become the “Sundance of the East”—or so Jocelyne and Richard Castellano would have local residents believe. As the duo secures investment in a feature film production and convinces locals they can become stars, the stage is set for a stranger-than-fiction tale of Hollywood dreams, deceit and delusions.
Sun Nov 10, 2019, 4:20 PM | SVA Theatre

NOTHING FANCY: DIANA KENNEDY
Diana Kennedy fell in love with Mexican food over 60 years ago, and has made it her mission to document and celebrate the regional varieties of Mexico’s cuisine ever since, becoming the world’s leading authority. Now in her 90s, the celebrated British-born chef and cookbook author is still as feisty and no-nonsense as ever.
Thu Nov 7, 2019, 5:10 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea

PIER KIDS
Caught up in the precariousness of survival and self-preservation, homeless queer and trans youth of color hang out at Christopher Street Pier, forging their own chosen family. Pier Kids is as real as it gets, and with intimate, immersive access to the hazardous life of its vulnerable but fearless protagonists.
Fri Nov 8, 2019, 9:30 PM | IFC Center
Wed Nov 13, 2019, 2:50 PM | IFC Center

The Rabbi Goes West by Gerald Peary & Amy Geller
The Rabbi Goes West by Gerald Peary & Amy Geller

THE RABBI GOES WEST
A Hasidic rabbi relocates from Brooklyn, New York, to Bozeman, Montana, with the hopes of spreading Chabad—his brand of orthodox practice—throughout “Big Sky Country.” As his prominence grows in the state, he faces both neo-Nazi threats and resistance from members of the established Jewish community in Montana.
Sun Nov 10, 2019, 7:30 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea

RED DOG
The seedy Oklahoma City strip club the Red Dog Saloon was an emblem of the 1970s oil boom. It also served as the childhood home of award-winning musician Luke Dick and his infamous go-go dancing mother Kim. This quirky, high-spirited film reconstructs the culture and times of the strip club, and explores Kim and Luke’s unorthodox life there.
Sun Nov 10, 2019, 9:20 PM | Cinepolis Chelsea

Kickstarter Joins 50+ Companies Going ‘Climate Neutral’

Oct 24 2019

When we made the decision to reincorporate Kickstarter as a Public Benefit Corporation in 2015, we made limiting our environmental impact a part of our charter. Since then we’ve been working to live up to that commitment. Our office has switched to compostable kitchenware and energy-efficient lighting. And we’ve stepped up our support of creators who want to be sustainable in their creative work — launching our Environmental Resources Center, adding environmental commitments to project pages, and spotlighting creative projects made from recycled materials.

Today we’re taking another important step in our commitment to measure, reduce and offset our environmental impact. We’re joining Climate Neutral.

Climate Neutral is a nonprofit organization that will verify that a company has measured its carbon footprint, has taken active steps to reduce emissions, and will offset the entirety of its carbon footprint through verified offset programs. This is similar to the way that organic and fair trade certifications work. Companies that have been verified will be able to use a Climate Neutral label.

Climate Neutral was started by the leaders of two companies that were born on Kickstarter and remain some of our favorite creators: Peak Design and BioLite. We are excited to join with more than 50 other companies — 19 of which are Kickstarter creators themselves, including Allbirds, Moment, and Ministry of Supply — in this growing movement to change the way businesses approach their environmental responsibilities.

At a time when our political systems are failing to put a price on carbon, companies can step in to show that such a price is not only necessary at this moment, but economically smart. Kickstarter is proud to be a part of this critical movement and provide a platform for Climate Neutral to get up and running through their Kickstarter campaign, which you can support right now.

The climate crisis is the most profound and important challenge we face today. We cannot sustain a world where businesses operate, and goods are produced and consumed, without regard for the environment. We hope you will join us in this effort.

Product Upgrades: A Batch of Improvements for Creators

Oct 21 2019

We’ve been listening to creator feedback on ways to make it easier to plan, build, and launch projects. Over the past few months, we’ve rolled out some changes to the project editor and dashboard that we hope will do just that. Here’s what’s new: 

Fresh look and easier navigation: We’ve freshened up the look of the project editor and made it easier to navigate between sections and find what you’re looking for. Use the bar at the top to switch to Rewards, Story, and so on. 

Promoting your project: We added a Promotion section under “Prepare for Launch” and in the navigation bar that you can access once your project is submitted for approval. In this section, you can generate your final project URL and activate a pre-launch page. Read on for details...

Project URL: After your project is submitted for approval, you can generate the final web address of your project. You can use this URL to plan and prepare project promotion. Note that this URL will not actually work until you activate your pre-launch page (see below) or your project goes live. 

Pre-launch page: Once your project is approved, you can activate a pre-launch page that includes your project title, subtitle, and image. There’s also a button that lets potential backers ask to be notified when the project goes live. This page has the same web address as your project, so you can start spreading the word before you launch. 

Follower count: Before your project launches, you can see a count of people who are following your project pre-launch and will receive an email or push notification when it goes live. 

Fulfillment dashboard with shipping costs: We’ve introduced new tools to help you plan and manage the fulfillment process. You can view a summary of what you raised, inventory counts for reward items, and detailed shipping insights, making it easier to visualize your overall progress with fulfillment. We recognize how hard it can be to plan for shipping costs, so we’ve added several new visualizations and breakdowns just for shipping. We’re still refining this feature and we’d appreciate your feedback through the survey on the dashboard. 

In previous Product Upgrades posts, we talked about improvements to comments and updates and a calculator for funding goals. Stay tuned for more.

Welcoming Casey Gerald to Our Board of Directors

Oct 9 2019

I am very pleased to announce that the author and entrepreneur Casey Gerald has been appointed to Kickstarter PBC’s board of directors.

Casey is the author of There Will Be No Miracles Here, a memoir and coming-of-age story that, as Casey puts it, “stands the American dream on its head.” It was named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR and The New York Times. Casey is a two-time TED speaker and was named by Fast Company as one of the “Most Creative People in Business.” He also recently wrote “The Black Art of Escape” for New York magazine, reflecting on the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans’ arrival in Virginia.

A native of Texas, Casey graduated from Yale College and Harvard Business School, where he co-founded MBAs Across America, a movement of MBAs and entrepreneurs working to reinvent business school and revitalize the country.

Casey’s breadth of experience across social impact, business operations, and nonprofit work — all while staying true to himself and his story — is a perfect fit for the mission-driven work we do here at Kickstarter. Casey’s career has been dedicated to finding unconventional approaches to the conventional ways of doing business, and his unique perspective will be a great benefit to our strategy and operations as a company.

Here’s how Casey explains his interest in accepting the board’s invitation: 

We’re living through a dark period right now — a period of runaway capitalism and rising authoritarianism — in America and around the world. So, I believe, as I have throughout my career, that we need more models of businesses and business leaders that are a force for good, that are committed not to corporate profits but to human flourishing. I think Kickstarter is the best hope of my generation to prove that this is possible.

As President John F. Kennedy said in 1963, the artist is “the last champion of the individual mind…against an intrusive society and an officious state.” If this is true — and as a writer, I believe it is — then Kickstarter’s mission is more important now than at any point in its ten-year history. I’m thrilled and grateful to be able to roll up my sleeves and support. 

In addition to Casey and myself, our board members are Perry Chen, Kickstarter founder and board chair; Jess Search, CEO of Doc Society; Michael Lynton, chairman of Snap Inc. and former CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Sunny Bates, CEO of Sunny Bates Associates; and Fred Wilson, managing partner at Union Square Ventures.

I look forward to working with Casey as we continue to seek unconventional paths in pursuit of our mission: helping to bring creative projects to life.

A Message to Our Community

Sep 27 2019

To our community of creators and backers:

The many questions and concerns we’ve heard from you lately are a testament to how much you care about Kickstarter, the people who work here, and the importance of creative work in the world. In response, I felt it was best to talk directly about recent events and issues.

It’s important for you to know, and to hear straight from me, that we haven’t fired anyone for union organizing. We respect our staff’s right to decide for themselves if they want a union at Kickstarter, and we are giving them the space they need to make that decision.

This month, we made the difficult decision to part ways with two members of our team. This is particularly tough at a small company like ours where most of us work closely and collaboratively at our Brooklyn headquarters. Both of these employees were members of the organizing committee, as are other current staff members. This had nothing to do with their terminations. We understood how these firings could be perceived, but it would be unfair to not hold these two employees to the same standards as the rest of our staff.

We know that we are asking you to take us at our word. Some have asked us to provide proof that these firings were not related to organizing. For privacy reasons, we don’t think it’s right for us to publicly share that information. We will, however, respond to the charges filed with the NLRB by providing clear documentation, which stretches back before March, when the organizing effort became public.

It is our responsibility to ensure that our staff can make their own decision on unionization in a fair, legal, and informed way, while we continue to run the business to the best of our ability. Every decision we have made has been with this key principle in mind.

Our staff has been divided on whether a union is right for them. And early on we had to step in when we learned that managers were involved in the organizing effort, in violation of labor rules. For those reasons, we’ve been clear that a secret-ballot election, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, is the only way forward that respects the rights of every member of our staff, and gives everyone a voice. We’ve said that if we are asked to voluntarily recognize the union, we’ll decline, and advocate for an election to protect the integrity of the process.

We have shared our perspective, in a staff meeting and follow-up Q&A session, that we don't think a union is the best tool to fix the issues we face at Kickstarter. We believe it’s important for employees to hear that perspective, so they can make an informed decision. We've limited our statements so we don't unduly influence or pressure the staff. Our perspective on this issue is born out of our work to build a new model for how a company can operate responsibly in society.

Kickstarter became a public benefit corporation in 2015. We took this unusual step to ensure that, for as long as it exists, Kickstarter will continue to serve its mission, not just its shareholders. When we make decisions, we are legally obligated to think about all of the other stakeholders involved, including our staff, the wider world of artists and creators, and society as a whole.

The PBC model is the best one we know of for breaking out of the profit-maximization mindset. We’re still actively building this new structure, and working to prove that it’s not only viable, but a new path forward. We want to do this all together, as one team.

The union framework is inherently adversarial. That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go. We believe that in many ways it would set us back, and that the us vs. them binary already has.

But again, the choice belongs to the staff. So where do things go from here? As the internal discussion continues, I want to make these commitments to you:

  • If an election is called, we will do everything we can to ensure that it is carried out in a fair and fully democratic way. 
  • In the runup to the vote, we will be transparent with staff and share our perspective on the issue, doing our part to create an atmosphere of respect and dialogue. 
  • Any meetings about this will be voluntary. If a majority of the staff in an appropriate bargaining unit votes in favor of a union in an NLRB election, we will fully respect that choice and negotiate in good faith toward a collective bargaining agreement.

I understand that some of you may not be satisfied with our approach to this issue. But I hope that by sharing our perspective, we can make clear that we are acting in good faith. Above all, we value the work you make and support as creators and backers. And we hope that we can continue to collaborate on bringing more creative work into the world.

Aziz Hasan
CEO
Kickstarter PBC

We’ve put together a FAQ to help clear up some questions about this complex situation and our response to it. We hope it addresses any questions you might have. And we welcome your feedback: thoughts@kickstarter.com.