If you don’t know the answer to the above question, you shouldn’t be backing things on Kickstarter. As Aarti Shahani points out:
As entrepreneurs come online, Kickstarter and hundreds of similar platforms will have to sort out if each transaction is a donation or a purchase.
It’s actually best to think of every Kickstarter “backing” as a donation and not a purchase, if that isn’t what you intended then you might be in for a surprise. As I, and many other backers have found out, the more ambitious the project, the more likely it is to be delayed indefinitely.
The example used in the article is Ouya, which always sounded neat, but equally dubious in the ability of it to be made through a Kickstarter campaign. It’s one thing to make a great one-off product, and another to try and crowdsource funding a device that should rival the Wii.
What I really hated in reading this article was the wishy-washy nature of the response from Kickstarter — they (unsurprisingly) want to stay out of the debate of whether funds should be refunded if a project fails. I think Kickstarter wants to stay out of the debate because typically the money will have been spent by the time a refund should have been given.
I think a happy middle ground would be Kickstarter, in no uncertain terms, stating that you are donating to the cause — not pre-ordering a product. I also think it would massively help by removing many rewards that don’t matter — such as t-shirts and stickers — forcing the project creators to actually focus on the bigger items and not the smaller rewards.
That’s just me though…