Is Kickstarter Safe?

Is it safe to back a Kickstarter project?

It's mostly safe to back a Kickstarter project, as Kickstarter does not pay the creator unless their fundraiser is successful.  However, there is always a risk that a creator may not follow through on their project.  You can minimize this risk by researching the creator and their project before backing them.

See our Kickstarter Refunds article for more information.

Kickstarter's accountability policy

There are three key points to remember about accountability and trust on Kickstarter.

1. When you use Kickstarter, you're not buying a finished product.

Kickstarter is about investing money in a creator to help them make something new.  If the project has a tangible end product, you may be entitled to a copy of it, or you may not.  It depends on what rewards the creator offers for pledges, whether or not you are willing to pledge the money required to be entitled to those rewards, and whether or not the project is ultimately successful in reaching its fundraising goal.

2. Kickstarter is by-and-large not responsible for the content or results of the projects that it hosts.

It is the creator's sole responsibility to deliver on the claims of their project, and to resolve any disputes with project observers and backers.  The rare exception is in the case of projects that are intentionally meant to scam people or otherwise abuse Kickstarter's system.  Kickstarter will investigate these projects, and if they break Kickstarter's rules, they will be shut down, and their creators will likely face account suspensions.

3. Remember that creators are still only human.

Regardless of what deadlines they set or what promises they make, there is always a chance that a creator's work will experience unexpected delays or not turn out exactly how they (or you) hoped.  After all, "life" sometimes happens to them, too.

How to stay safe on Kickstarter: 4 important safety tips

1. Read a project's information page thoroughly.

A project's information page will tell you who is behind the project, how much money they want to raise, and when they wish to raise it by.  It will also give you a general overview of the project, including a "Risks and Challenges" section where the creator outlines what difficulties they foresee themselves potentially encountering.  Also be sure to check out the "Updates" section to see if the creator has posted any news about where their project is at, as well as the "Comments" section to see what other backers and observers are saying about the project.

2. Check the creator's track record outside of Kickstarter.

Use a search engine like Google Search or DuckDuckGo to look up a creator's presence on the rest of the Internet (you may even be able to find some links on their project page).  Do they have a website?  Is there a place where you can find samples of their work?  Are they part of any other groups or communities, and if so, what is their reputation like in those places? 

You may also want to look up the project itself.  See if it (or something like it) has been done before, and how successful other people were at it.  All of this information should give you clues as to whether the creator can be counted on to get the job done right.

3. If you're unsure about a project, ask someone.

At the bottom of a project's information page, you can click Ask a Question to send an email to a project's creator and ask them about a specific element of their project.  Hopefully, they will be open and honest enough to send you a reply.

If you feel that something is suspicious about a particular project, you can click Report This Project to Kickstarter at the bottom of the project's information page, and then follow the instructions to tell Kickstarter why you feel that particular project is not legitimate.

4. Be careful about how much personal information you reveal.

Remember that, by and large, Kickstarter is a public forum where only certain forms of information are hidden (such as your account password, billing details, your computer's Internet address, your phone number, and any communication that you send directly to Kickstarter).  So whether you're asking a creator a question about their project or leaving a comment on their project page, be careful not to reveal private information about your identity or finances.

By the same token, avoid (and, better yet, report) any creators or projects that ask for your Kickstarter account password, social security number, credit card details, or any other sensitive information.  Kickstarter itself will only ever ask for this kind of information at secure points on the website (and NEVER over email or phone), and does not allow its users to ask for this information at all.


That's our advice on how to use Kickstarter safely!  Now, let's start using it. Follow our next tutorial to learn everything you need to know to get started!

Kickstarter Review

Okay, so we've told you a bit about what Kickstarter is.  But before we let you take a kick at the Kickstarter can (so to speak), let's go over what its strong and weak points are.


  • Who's worthy of your money? — Project creators are encouraged (and sometimes required) to give as much information about their project as possible, including specifications and proofs-of-concept, end goals, potential obstacles, and progress updates.  You can also ask questions of a creator if there's something specific about their project that you'd like to know about.  Creators are accountable to you, so you can use this information (or lack thereof) to decide who gets your pledges and who doesn't!

  • Only pay for successful projects — When you make a pledge towards a project on Kickstarter, you only have to pay for it at the end of the fundraising period, and only if the project reached its funding goal.  Until then, your credit card won't be charged at all!

  • Get what you give — For most projects on Kickstarter, you can get some sort of reward if you donate enough money to them.  For example, if you make a pledge towards someone writing a book or recording a music album, you might score a copy if your pledge is high enough and their project is successful.


  • Funding is all-or-nothing — While we mentioned this as a "pro" if you want to donate to a project on Kickstarter, it's a "con" if you're trying to fund a project.  You have to meet or exceed your project's funding goal by your fundraising deadline, or you don't get any money at all.

  • Strict project guidelines — Kickstarter has rather stringent guidelines for what projects it will allow, and what it expects creators to do to make the process of working on their project as transparent as possible.  Though this is meant to preserve accountability between creators and their backers, it does limit the type of available projects or rewards on Kickstarter.

  • Limited payment options — Kickstarter currently only accepts major credit and debit cards (including prepaid cards) to pay for pledges.  It does not currently accept cheques, money transfers, or electronic payment services such as PayPal.

The bottom line: 8.5 / 10

Out of the most popular crowdfunding websites out there today, Kickstarter is probably the simplest to use.  It's especially easy and safe for people looking to donate to projects.  Donations don't go through unless a project meets its fundraising goal, and there are easy ways to investigate a project to make sure that it's one that you really want to donate to.  Plus, you can often get tangible rewards for donating, instead of just financial incentives!

Kickstarter has some limitations, though.  It's only available in a handful of countries, and only accepts credit or debit cards as payment (as opposed to money transfers, or electronic services such as PayPal).  Also, projects hosted on it have to fit into one of 15 categories, and must have some sort of tangible end result (i.e. they can't just fundraise to give to a charity).  While these restrictions help to keep donors safe and project creators accountable, they may also add obstacles to donating or creating an acceptable project fundraiser.

Kickstarter is probably the website that you want to start with if you're just getting into the "crowdfunding" scene, whether you're looking to make your first donation or try your first project fundraiser.  Once you learn the ropes, you can move on to some Kickstarter alternatives that allow more types of projects, flexible funding (i.e. you keep whatever you raise, but at a higher cost), and offering of financial incentives (such as company stock) as rewards.


If you've never used a "crowdfunding" service like Kickstarter before, we have some tips on how to keep yourself safe while using it in our next article.  Or, if you'd like to jump right in and make your first donation, head over to our How to Use Kickstarter lesson!

What is Kickstarter? + How Kickstarter Works

Have you ever had an idea about creating something that improves on what something else already does, or even does something that has never been done before?  Lots of people do, but until recently, very few had the resources to make their visions into reality.  But the Internet, as it has evolved, has changed that.  Now, creators of all stripes — from musicians to graphic artists to designers to engineers — can get the funding that they need to bring their concepts to life.  And it comes from everyday people around the world, just like you.  One of the most popular places where this all happens is on the website Kickstarter.

Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform.  Creators post their projects, providing specifications for their finished product, potential risks and challenges, and progress updates.  Then, other people can donate money towards projects, usually earning a reward if the project meets its fundraising goal.

Kickstarter is often referred to as a "crowdfunding" platform, and you may see us refer to it (and other services like it) as such.  Basically, "crowdfunding" is a business model where creators of a project or business solicit donations from a large number of people at once, thereby reducing the amount of money that each donor has to pay.  The worldwide and interconnected nature of the Internet makes this model easy to implement through websites like Kickstarter.

How does Kickstarter work?

When a creator posts their project, they must set a monetary goal and a deadline to meet it by.  Then, supporters pledge money towards the project's completion.  If the project does not meet its funding goal by the deadline, then its creator receives no money, and their supporters are not charged for their pledges.

3 key features of how Kickstarter works

1. A wealth of ideas and creations

Kickstarter projects are spread across 15 diverse categories.  They may compose music, create gadgets, write books or comic books, or design the newest trendy fashions!

The 15 project categories of Kickstarter

2. Creators stay accountable to you

Creators of projects on Kickstarter are encouraged (and, in some ways, required) to be as open about the intentions and processes of their projects as possible.  This can include writing project specifications, submitting proofs-of-concept, identifying potential risks and challenges, providing progress updates, and responding to feedback and concerns from supporters.  This helps you to decide where your money should go!

Update on a Kickstarter project

3. Helping is more than its own reward

Many projects on Kickstarter have incentives for people who make large enough donations.  Pledge enough money to a project on Kickstarter, and you may get a free meal, a copy of an album or book, a product the company is creating or a one-of-a-kind look behind the scenes of how the project happened!

Choosing a reward for a Kickstarter pledge


Want to invest money in something that you really believe in?  Ready to play an active role in making people's dreams come true?  We'll review the pros and cons of Kickstarter in our next tutorial and then give you a few safety tips for using it before you start donating!