Guest author Nick Baugh is the founder of Teelaunch, which helps crowdfunding campaigners fulfill their perks.

After a crowdfunding campaign has ended, one of the most common problems for campaigners is fulfillment. Fulfillment of rewards like shirts, hats, DVD’s, posters, remote vehicles, and games takes money, time, and patience.

Without proper planning before you launch your campaign, fulfillment can become unnecessarily arduous. Even our team at Teelaunch made several mistakes in understanding the fulfillment process when we first built the roots of our service back in 2008. Given those initial mistakes and how much we’ve learned since then through working with crowdfunding campaigners, we thought it’d be nice share the following quick tips to save you time and money — so you can focus more on your project and spend less time at the Post Office.

1. Step Back & Simplify Everything

We’ve had customers approach us with paragraphs of requests, such as, ‘Five different t-shirt designs on six colors of shirts with three different print locations.’ While this is possible, it’s also expensive, time consuming, and at the end of the day, unnecessary. The less complicated you make things, the easier it is for contributors to quickly decide on their perk level and checkout — you can pursue more complicated perk details with surveys later on. It also simplifies production for suppliers, resulting in quicker turnaround and happy contributors. You reach critical path faster this way.

Instead of having five different designs for your rewards (e.g. t-shirts), pick one or two, limit the number of colors and ink, and describe them in a few words. (As an aside, it helps to have a simple message too: Did you know one campaign that Teelaunch helped was able to raise $74K with a 19-second video?)

2. Calculate the P’s in Shipping

The two P’s of shipping stand for package and postage, and you can accurately determine the cost of both in advance. In order to calculate postage, you must first determine the packaging that you’ll use.

We like to use these ULINE polymailers here at Teelaunch for fulfillment of t-shirts, hats, and hoodies. ULINE also has a great selection of packaging materials, and you can request samples through their chat tool or by email. We also love Yazoo Mills for their poster tubes. When you’re ready to calculate postage, just use USPS, UPS, or Fedex online calculators. Be sure to calculate postage for various zip codes and countries to get an average price.

Unless you’re extremely confident in your estimations, always calculate using the upper range of costs. If packaging supplies could cost 25¢ to $1, factor in $1. Similarly if postage could cost $3-$5, budget for $5. This ensures that you won’t have to tap into your project-execution-funds for fulfillment — and providing this reasoning transparently to your contributors will build trust.

3. Add Safety Nets and Buffers

Continuing with a point made above, it’s important to leave safety nets for yourself at every endpoint of your campaign. Don’t be too ambitious with goals — be realistic and feasible — this will yield stronger funding for your project and satisfied contributors who love receiving their perks.

When adding a buffer for packaging, give yourself a minimum of 1-2 inches of “wiggle room” for height/width/length (relative to the size of your perk). It helps to add in bubbles, popcorns, or tissue wrap in this buffer space (less damage on the bumpy road to delivery).

Don’t forget to leave a safety net for postage too — we tell campaigners to add a minimum of $5 for international postage with t-shirt rewards (based on the average 7 oz. Mens Large T-Shirt). Postage typically costs $3 for t-shirts when shipped domestically in the US.

Do your research though! If you forget this careful step, you could make a mistake like having poster rewards that you thought would cost $7 to ship internationally, actually end up costing $30… ouch!

4. Determine Customs & VAT

Rates change from time to time, but currently t-shirts have an import duty rate of 12% and a VAT rate of 20% in the UK. HOWEVER, no import taxes typically apply to packages with a value of less than £15.00 (~$20 USD) — so typically t-shirts never incur any import duty or VAT taxes… woo hoo!

However, more expensive products might, and you should to take a look into this ahead of time. Other types of products have varying rates, and you can calculate them using online tools, such as DutyCalculator.

It is the contributor’s responsibility to ensure items can be legally imported to their country and how much import taxes might cost. Basically, campaigners (you) have little to no control over this. If contributors incur a customs/VAT tax, they will receive a notice and simply go to their carrier or post office to pay the tax before the perk is released. It will probably help you and your contributors sleep better if you give them a head’s up before this happens — again to build the trust and loyalty of your crowdfunding audience.

In conclusion…

Hopefully this clears fulfillment up for you, so when time comes around to ship rewards to your awesome contributors, it’ll be a breeze for everyone. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to email us for a $25 discount on stickers and 10% discount on t-shirts. We’d love to also help with any specific questions you might have about fulfillment and swag.

And one last bonus tip! Download our free field guide to crowdfunding:


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Have fulfillment tips of your own? Let us know in the comments! And be the first to know about awesome Indiegogo campaigns and news by subscribing to the newsletter!

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