Crowdfunding isn’t necessarily a new idea, but sites like GoFundMe and Kickstarter brought crowdfunding to another level. Everything under the sun can get crowdfunded now, from home electronics to medical procedures to books from your favorite authors.
And while most successful Kickstarter campaigns raise less than $10,000, some of them go on to make an astounding amount of cash.
And with that in mind, let’s check out the 25 Most Successful Kickstarter Campaigns.
The Everyday Backpack: $6.5 Million
We all know what a backpack looks like and what it does. And even though it seems like there’s not a lot of difference between the world’s worst backpack and the world’s best backpack, something about the Everyday Backpack from Peak Design really spoke to people.
The campaign dates back to 2016, and it turned out to be phenomenal. Over 26,000 backers were seduced by this deceptively simple bag to the tune of $6,565,782. Not bad for a campaign that was only trying to make $500,000.
The bags are considered some of the best in the world, having evolved from camera bags to some of the best all purpose bags around with dozens of cool features that clearly a lot of people really dug.
The Binding of Isaac Requiem: $6.7 Million
Based on the video game of the same name, the Binding of Isaac is a card game that racked up an impressive $2.6 million in a campaign that just wanted $50,000. It was released in 2018 and they broke their initial funding goal of $50,000 in under two hours.
Fast forward to 2021 and the expansion game “Requiem” hit Kickstarter even harder. This time they managed $6,720,471 on an initial campaign that sought to earn just $100,000.
This time the game made its initial goal in three minutes. Within 90 minutes they were at $1 million. Backers were looking to have the game shipped sometime in 2023.
The Way of Kings: $6.7 Million
Fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson is behind the Way of Kings, a leather bound anniversary edition of his first published novel that was, essentially, just a really fancy reprinting for fans of the 10-year-old book or new readers who wanted to experience it in a pretty exciting way. And man did people ever want to experience it in a pretty exciting way.
Though not every pledge was for a leather bound copy, at the lowest tier you’d get an electronic copy of the novel plus a digital art package for $10. High rollers could pledge $500 and get a signed and numbered edition plus some other swag.
Nearly 30,000 Sanderson fans hopped on board and helped bring the total to $6,788,517.
Bambu Lab 3D Printer: $7 Million US
While most of the big Kickstarter campaigns seem to come from the United States, it’s not true of all of them. Bambu Labs made some waves with the X1 3D Printer. Started in May 2022 it exploded and managed to rake in about HK$ 54,970,803, which are Hong Kong dollars. In US dollars, that’s around $7 million.
The printer was designed to overcome all the shortcomings of previous 3D printers with one of the most notable features being the ability to print things in multiple colors.
As cool as 3D printing is, if everything comes out one color it gets a little old. But the promo videos promised the ability to make your own high quality action figures and other cool things that took full advantage of the ability to mix up colors and print whatever you want. Over 5,500 backers liked what they saw and made the project a success.
The 7th Continent: $7 Million
The hook for The 7th Continent was that it was the first board game in which you’re the hero. This is assuming you never believed you were the hero of Monopoly when you chose the thimble.
The game promised 1000+ minutes of adventure fun for 1 to 4 players that involved survival and exploration. The game was a success, so the makers released an expansion called “What Goes Up Must Come Down.” Nearly 44,000 backers thought it sounded cool so they pledged $7,072,757. The goal was just $40,000.
Snapmaker 2 3D Printer: $7.8 million
Another 3D printer, this time from Snapmaker, nearly 7,400 people saw laser engraving and CNC carving and said “heck yes!” The campaign pulled in $7,850,866 off of pledges that started at the low end of $599 each.
The Witcher: Old World: $7.2 million
Thanks to Henry Cavill’s Netflix series, the Witcher has exploded well beyond the original books and games. The Witcher: Old World was a board game based in the same universe but years before Geralt existed.
It was launched in 2021 and was backed by over 45,000 fans. The original campaign was European, so they made €6,840,648 initially, which comes out to around $7.2 million US.
OUYA Console: $8.5 Million
Sales beyond Kickstarter were very limited and game designers were not interested in getting involved. The company had trouble fulfilling orders.
The company sold its assets and the entire system stopped being supported in 2019, making it nothing but a paperweight for most people.
Exploding Kittens: $8.7 Million
A card game like few others, Exploding Kittens was created by The Oatmeal’s Matthew Inman and a couple of other intrepid kitten lovers who wanted to make a fun and absurd game.
The concept, combining kittens and tacos and lasers and explosions was enough to get $8,782,571 in backing.
Wyrmwood Modular Gaming Table: $8.8 Million
Games have proven to be successful on Kickstarter but the Wyrmwood modular gaming table took things to the next level, or maybe down a level, to give backers a table on which they could game.
It could easily become a coffee table or even a dining table with seating for 10. Over 7,700 backers pledged $8,808,136.
AnkerMake 3D Printer: $8.8 Million
The third and final 3D printer on the list, the AnkerMake M5 was the most successful at $8,881,095.
This one promised a print time cut by 70%, multi-color printing and 0.1 mm precision for almost flawless design. Reviews seem to indicate it mostly lived up to the hype,too.
Marvel Zombies: $9 million
Baubax Travel Jacket: $9.1 Million
You can never have a jacket that’s too nice or too functional, just ask Baubax, makers of the incredibly successful Travel Jacket.
It had a built-in neck pillow, gloves, an eye mask, tech pockets, a drink pocket and plenty more. Nearly 45,000 people fell in love with the idea of it and backed it for $9,192,055.
Avatar Legends: $9.5 Million
Avatar, not the James Cameron one, has been hugely popular for years. The Kickstarter campaign for the tabletop RPG Avatar Legends proves it with the incredible showing it had in 2021.
They made $9,535,317 from nearly 82,000 backers. Copies of the game began shipping at the end of 2022.
Pebble E-Paper watch: $10.2 Million
The watch was compatible with iPhone and Android and customizable with numerous apps as well as downloadable faces to shake up the look.
Vox Machina: $11.3 Million
This one is unique on the list for being an animated series. Not a lot of people fund those, and certainly not to this level. Critical Role, the company behind Vox Machina, raked in a respectable $11,385,449 from nearly 89,000 fans.
The show can currently be seen on Amazon Prime and consists of 12 episodes, though only the first ten were funded by the Kickstarter.
Travel Tripod: $12.1 Million
You can never predict what will hit the Kickstarter crowd, as witnessed by the $12,143,435 Travel Tripod. It’s a tripod.
ECOFlow Delta: $12.1 Million
Never underestimate the popularity of a home gadget. ECOFlow Delta is a portable home battery that made $12,179,651 from about 3,200 backers.
Keep in mind these were no ordinary batteries. A single unit had a power output up to 3600W, expandable to 4500W, and enough juice to run many home appliances. A bank of several could power a home during a blackout for days.
Kingdom Death: $12.3 million
As we’ve seen, board games are big on Kickstarter, and Kingdom Death was one of the biggest. This horror-themed game netted $12,393,139 from over 19,000 backers.
The game combined many of the favorite elements of tabletop fantasy games like cards, dice, miniatures, and the threat of constant destruction at the hands of weird monsters.
Pebble 2: $12.7 Million
Back to Pebble again, with a $12,779,843 campaign backed by nearly 67,000 people. Because everyone wants to know what time it is!
This time, backers got two watches that could monitor their heart rate, connect them with Alexa and was 3G enabled so they could talk on the phone or listen to music on the go.
The campaign delivered on its watches in 2017 and backers had a variety of styles and choices when it came to what they wanted. Even the base option was $79 for a Pebble Core. Big spenders could back for $339 and get two Pebble Time 2 watches.
Frosthaven: $12.9 Million
It’s considered one of the most popular campaign-based fantasy games ever, so a sequel/spinoff like Frosthaven was a no-brainer, and it’s not hard to imagine why Kickstarter managed to pull in $12,969,608.
So how’s the game compared to the original? Well, the campaign was run in 2020, and by the end of 2022, no one had a copy of the game to play it and find out. Word is it should be available in 2023.
Coolest Cooler: $13 Million
Let’s say you’re heading to the beach for a day with some friends. Maybe you’ll go swimming, maybe play some volleyball. What do you need to bring? Sunscreen, towel, sunglasses. And a cooler, right? The Coolest Cooler seemed to answer everyone’s outdoor fun-time prayers back in 2014. It was a cooler, but it also had a blender so you could make margaritas! And a Bluetooth speaker! A bottle opener, LED lights; other random stuff!
The campaign pulled 62, 642 excited backers and $13,285,226. Wow, right? Must have been an amazing cooler. But it wasn’t. Successful in terms of making a lot of money, this is also one of Kickstarter’s biggest failures. About a third of those backers never got a cooler, and the company went out of business in 2019 having failed for years to get all orders fulfilled. Those left with nothing had the option of a $20 refund despite paying $200 to back the campaign.
Pebble Time Watch: $20 million
Yeah, it’s Pebble again. People can’t get enough of these watches. This one dates back to 2015 with their color e-paper smartwatch.
It must have been that 7-day battery life that got people’s attention, not the interface that was meant to highlight things that you’d find important in your day.
Whatever it was, 78,471 backers pledged $20,338,986 to make it happen, so it was clearly a success. And, given how this is Pebble’s third appearance on the list, it’s safe to say the watches were getting the job done for many fans.
Brandon Sanderson’s Four Books: $41 Million
A handful of writers have long dominated the world of fantasy literature. That’s not to say there are hundreds or even thousands in the field, but not everyone gets to be J. R. R. Tolkien or George R. R. Martin. But one name that definitely stands out is Brandon Sanderson.
He may not be a household name outside of fantasy circles the way those others are, but the man has not only made a dent with a few dozen titles, he’s proven on Kickstarter that his fans are devoted. Rabidly devoted. $41,754,153 devoted.
Sanderson’s “Four Secret Novels” Kickstarter is the biggest campaign the site has ever hosted. At the lowest level, backers who ponied up $40 would get a quarterly e-book in 2023. For $60 it became an audiobook. For $500 a backer could get the e-books, the audiobooks, hardcover books and swag boxes. And, in total, 185,341 people were on board.
America’s Food Fund $45 million
Alright, so we’re cheating a little bit at number one. It’s not a Kickstarter exactly; it’s a GoFundMe. But it’s also the biggest crowdfunded campaign ever, and it was even a good cause, so it deserves the top spot.
America’s Food Fund started in April 2020 and ran for two years. In that time they raised $45,155,500 for a number of charities. They were raising money to battle food insecurity, in particular as it affected children during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you recall, that was an especially rough time in some parts of the country with store shelves being bare.
The campaign attracted some high-profile attention, with Oprah Winfrey donating $1 million, Leo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs donating $5 million, and their single largest donation coming in at a whopping $10 million.