In recent chats on improving our banners for conference and how-it-works etc. we had some various useful thoughts. I wanted to share some summaries here for discussion. The goal is just to discuss and spark ideas as we work toward improved illustrations and explanations.
Several different angles and issues on crowdmatching (click to expand)
Withholding donations: In some sense, crowdmatching allows (or rather requires even) people to be in but to not donate much unless they have matching from many others. You can’t donate $5 unless you get 5,000 patrons together; if you want to donate more, you need to get more people; we won’t accept your $5 otherwise; (put more positively) crowdmatching guarantees that if you are donating $5, it means there are 5,000 patrons all doing the same!
Comparison to threshold: Kickstarter has the same sort of guarantee, but it’s all-or-nothing, and you can’t really figure out in advance what is the “right” level (and people all donate at different levels). Kickstarter is risky because all efforts to get donations can be totally wasted if the campaign fails (and setting the threshold too low means no real guarantee of coordination beyond that).
We want to get this basic sense of “don’t go it alone!” and “Are you in?” — and while that is like Kickstarter, there’s much more immediate sense of “the instant you pledge, all the current patrons will together match you”.
We need it to be clear that crowdmatching isn’t about starting out with a substantial donation and then growing from there, it’s about starting at near-zero and making further donations contingent on others joining.
On wide patron base: We don’t want projects to rely on a few generous donors, we want a bigger crowd (as a goal in itself even) that brings both increased funding and increased connection, commitment from the public, the sense of buy-in and sustainability etc.
Intuitions vs analysis: We want to pump / spark people’s basic intuitions and give them the tools for more thoughtful analysis.
The intuition part: There’s all these potential patrons, and they aren’t donating! Everyone is waiting to see what everyone else will do (and whoever has already stepped up without crowdmatching just seem like the few self-sacrificing enthusiasts, and few in the crowd want to join that club). Crowdmatching is quick and easy (no working out how much to donate, just “I’m in” and either it will be low-cost or will be really great results or in-between), and the point is you’re just inviting the others to join you through matching.
The analytic part: The Snowdrift dilemma is a waiting game. If you go first, others may keep freeriding. If others go first, you can freeride (or not). Crowdmatching solves this because it doesn’t matter who pledges first, their donations are tied to whether or not the others pledge too (but without the sense of being stuck at zero and the potential failure that happens with threshold campaigns).
Issue with current-how-it-works: While we want the analytic part to be clear that each patron donates more with growing crowd, the emphasis on “more per patron” is a problem. People don’t intuitively feel good about “yay, I give more”. The emphasis we want might be the reverse. Instead of “when there’s more patrons, each gives more” we might flip it to “when each patron gives more, it’s because more patrons showed up”.
We could add further points with real numbers so people can see how the quadratic matching adds up for the projects, but people probably have adequate intuitions that raising donations from more people will be a lot of money for the projects. The main value of real numbers is to show that even at really high numbers for the project, the amount we’re proposing per patron is quite modest still (which is the opposite feeling of the “more per patron” emphasis currently).