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With Homicide Watch‘s do-or-die Kickstarter bid less than halfway to its $40,000 goal with only 16 days remaining, it’s time to ask: Do the lackluster donor rewards have something to do with it?

You might say that the “prizes” are beside the point when it comes to funding worthwhile murder coverage, but they’re about the only thing that makes a Kickstarter drive different from a PayPal tip jar. Kickstarter projects depend on great rewards.

In contrast, Homicide Watch’s are unappealing and pricey—-$500 to travel to Massachussetts to have lunch with site editor Laura Amico? $5,000 for a guest lecture? With those options, it’s no wonder the site has only received one donation of $500 or more.

Man-about-Twitter Dave Stroup thinks Kickstarter, with its focus on funding one-shot projects instead of paying a site’s day-to-day bills, was a bad fit for Homicide Watch (emphasis his):

Travelling to Boston to have lunch with Ms. Amico is also not a result of the project being funded. The reason these rewards seem awkward or forced is because they are. It is a result of trying to shoehorn something into Kickstarter that the funding platform was not designed to accommodate.

Amico didn’t respond to a request for comment about the Kickstarter project, but she and husband and site co-founder Chris Amico did recently sweeten the deal by offering the site’s data in a spreadsheet for $350. That should interest some, but it’s not exactly the stuff of viral magic.

Murder picture by Shutterstock