Cloverleaf falls short of crowdfunding target

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The Kickstarter fundraising page set up by RISC OS Cloverleaf came to a close today, with the funds falling short of their target – the goal was to raise €50,000 (£44,447 at time of writing), but the amount pledged was just €26,870 (£23,886), which is €23,130 (£20,561) short.

The shortfall seems large, and this isn’t entirely surprising – for a RISC OS-related project, a target of €50,000 was very ambitious. However, consider the amount it did reach – €26,886. In the same way that €50,000 was ambitious for a RISC OS fundraising target, the total amount pledged was actually quite an impressive achievement for one.

The crucial point, though, is that the funding model employed on Kickstarter means that because the full target wasn’t reached, no funds are handed over – anyone who pledged gets to keep their money, and Cloverleaf gets none of the funding they were looking for.

Cloverleaf’s Stefan Fröhling published an update on the Kickstarter page, which reads:

Thank you for your support!

We’ve fallen a bit short of our goal, but we’re determined to plow ahead and make RISC OS Cloverleaf a reality! As you should know you will not be charged your pledges when we don’t reach the goal.

We’ve gotten tons of great questions, insights, and thoughts that we’ve used to improve our project. Thank you so much for being a backer.

More than ever before, we think it’s important to provide alternative choices from the main operating systems available. We want to revitalize and upgrade RISC OS for you.

We’re going to transition our Kickstarter campaign to Indiegogo and after that re-launch with a lower goal here at Kickstarter.

You can expect our Indiegogo to go live in less 2 weeks.

You will hear from me via email, a Kickstarter update, and our Facebook group (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/riscos-cloverleaf/cloverleaf-built-on-the-powerful-open-source-risc-os).

I hope you choose to continue to participate, and if you have any questions, you can shoot me a direct message here or post in our group on Facebook.

Thank you,

Stefan

So the plan now is to switch from Kickstarter to Indiegogo for a second attempt at raising funds, and with a smaller target amount. An important point to note here is that while on Kickstarter the fundraising model is all or nothing – if the total pledged falls short of the amount you are aiming for, you get nothing – Indiegogo offers a flexible funding model, whereby funds are collected from backers at the end of the campaign and paid to the fundraiser even if the target is not met.

In other words, if you backed Cloverleaf on Kickstarter, because they didn’t reach their target you don’t have to pay out – but if this had been an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, your payment card would indeed be charged.

There is a cynical way of looking at this change, which I won’t spell out here. However, I will counter what I’ve chosen not to say:

If you look at the various ‘Rewards’ on the Kickstarter, many of these are in effect the pitch price of specific RISC OS systems – all of the desktop models are based on single-board computers, for example, while the laptop and All-in-One systems are based on off-the-shelf products. So, subject to the state of the RISC OS port to them, Cloverleaf could simply put together their RISC OS distribution and start selling those models. In which case, why set such a high goal before trying to do so?

The answer lies in what that would achieve: selling RISC OS computers that way is likely to result only in small numbers being sold into the existing RISC OS community, while many (and I would wager most) of the funds pledged via the Kickstarter campaign came from outside the existing community. And if you’ve followed Cloverleaf from the outset, you’ll know that they want to do more than just sell a few computers: The goal, ostensibly, is to raise enough money to put something back into the RISC OS community by using the money raised to fund further development certain aspects of the operating system or applications for it.

So keep your eye out for Cloverleaf crowdfunding version 2.0, and let’s see what comes of it.