Designer Max Temkin '10, whose game Cards Against Humanity is a bestseller on Amazon.com, is featured in the spring issue of the Goucher Quarterly. He successfully funded and produced the game through Kickstarter, a website that allows entrepreneurs and others to fund projects through crowdsourcing. (Temkin has funded two other projects through Kickstarter: Humans vs. Zombies Source software and an online store through which he sells original philosophy posters. He also recently launched a fourth Kickstarter campaign to pay for the production of a new edition of the folk game Werewolf.)

To fund a project through Kickstarter, anyone who wishes may post a proposal—usually including a video—for a project and ask for funding. Projects may range from producing music albums and theatrical performances to making kitchen gadgets and apparel. As an incentive, the creators offer rewards (frequently the finished product itself) in return for donations. Typically, the larger the donation, the more valuable the reward.

Cards Against Humanity, which was created in 2008 by Temkin and seven childhood friends, was funded at 389 percent—more than three times the creators' goal. "In a lot of ways, Max helped define some of the best practices of using Kickstarter," says Cindy Au, who is head of community for the online funding platform.

Temkin's proposal includes examples of the cards and game reviews from The Onion's AV Club and The Daily Beast. In a homemade video, the eight creators introduce themselves and film themselves playing and talking about the game—and encouraging would-be donors to be the first to own and play it.

"When you go to Kickstarter, it's not a solo experience," says Au. "You're going to be immersed in a large community; everyone is going to be asking lots of questions and will want to know more about what you're doing. It really is about engagement, inviting people to participate.

"You want people to think, 'I want to be a part of this.'"

Here are some tips offered by Temkin and Au about how to fund a project using Kickstarter:

  • Research your project, define your end goal, and think through every detail.
  • Offer potential funders a prototype (in as polished a form as possible).
  •  Sell yourself: Include your experience and biography.
  • Explain why you believe in your project.
  • Don't offer dozens of rewards; they can divert attention from the product. (Remember, you will also need to create and deliver the rewards.)
  • Present things as openly, honestly, and transparently as possible.

Remember, Temkin says, "You need to give people a story. They want to be there for the creation of the thing you're making."

Temkin's Projects on Kickstarter

What: Humans vs. Zombies Source software
Funded: March 22, 2010
Goal: $2,000
Backers: 90
Outcome: $2,275/113%
Pledge range: $10-$50+

What: Cards Against Humanity
Funded: January 30, 2011
Goal: $4,000
Backers: 758
Outcome: $15,570/389%
Pledge range: $5-$30+

What: Philosophy posters
Funded: May 4, 2012
Goal: $2,000
Backers: 1,393
Outcome: $41,167/2,058%
Pledge range: $20-$30+

For the full interview with Max Temkin, click here.