How 15 Million Backers Have Supported Creative Ideas on Kickstarter

At the end of July, Michelle Vance backed her first Kickstarter project. When she did, she became the 15 millionth member of a community that’s brought nearly 150,000 projects to life.

“It was just a couple of years ago that I saw the lead singer of Moda Spira, Latifah Alattas, perform live. I found myself drawn to her music and storytelling,” Vance told us. “I heard about her new album project in an email update from her friends at Humble Beast Records. There were only three days left in the campaign, so once I read the description of her project and saw how close it was from the goal, I wanted to support it. I wanted to hear more storytelling from Latifah. She is a rare gem in the world of musical artists, and I hope to hear her creative works for years, even decades, to come.”

Like the 14,999,999 backers before her, Vance is helping to bring new creative work—work that might not fit into traditional commercial models—into the world. Just this year, Kickstarter’s backer community has supported a soaring mechanical sculpture in France, a book about autism from the Sesame Street Yellow Feather Fund, a slew of local journalism initiatives around the U.S., and much more.

Small Communities, Big Impact 

Viral successes like Exploding Kittens attract crowds (219,382 backers, to be exact, the most for a single project so far), but most projects are brought to life by small groups of people who care—typically fewer than 75. Many people, like Vance, first visit Kickstarter to fund a single project they care about. But many find themselves returning: 32 percent of backers have supported more than one project.

The Superbackers 

We call anyone who’s pledged at least $ 10 to 25 or more projects in the past year a “superbacker”—and we give them a nifty profile badge to prove it. Over 45,000 people have become superbackers, including Kickstarter software engineer Tieg Zaharia, who has backed nearly 5,000 projects. (He falls just a little short of our most-super superbacker, who’s supported 5,686.)

“I’m a Kickstarter multiverse believer,” Zaharia says. “There are several reasons I back projects: showing support for a friend or a creative person I look up to; the early adopter appeal; helping to bring something you want to exist into the world; rooting for the underdog (by supporting creative residencies, new and experimental product ideas, authors who are self-publishing, etc.); and getting a glimpse into the process of making something.”

Backers Are Creators 

Many backers are also creators. Artist Hank Willis Thomas has been supporting projects on Kickstarter since we launched in 2009. (The first project he backed was a multidisciplinary art project disguised as an employment agency.) He’s supported 64 more since then, including a massive art installation in Marfa, Texas, a collection of pioneering films from African-American filmmakers, and an art institute in Cuba. This year, he launched his own ambitious campaign, aiming to put an artist-designed political billboard in every U.S. state and territory. The For Freedoms 50 State Initiative raised $ 172,264 from 2,221 backers; artworks will start going up around the country in September.

“Innovators all need help, and [they] love to help one another,” Willis Thomas told us. “It is astounding to consider the magnitude of the impact of our collective work manifested through this platform.”

To all of the creators, backers, and superbackers who have collectively helped to bring that creative work to life—thank you!

All stats as of August 21.

The Kickstarter Blog