Whether you aspire to be an entrepreneur, dream of creating a revolutionary tech gadget, or anything else, financial backing is always required to turn those ideas into reality. However, securing funding for “just” ideas is always difficult. And this is especially true for startups, which often find it tough to entice investors and venture capitalists.
But not anymore. Thanks to crowdfunding websites, securing funding for that next big creative idea of yours, has never been easier. In the most basic words, they provide a platform where you can pitch your upcoming project, idea, startup etc., to people around the world, and if they’re interested, they donate towards it, generally in return for certain rewards. But with the seemingly endless number of crowdfunding websites out there, deciding which one(s) to rely on for your dream project, can be a little confounding.
Fret not, as that’s what we’re here to help with. Excited? Here’s a listing of the 15 best crowdfunding websites.
Without a doubt the most popular crowdfunding website out there, Kickstarter has helped become well-known products like Pebble Time smartwatch and OUYA game console become a reality. It features thousands of live projects, spanning a diverse range of categories such as Art, Journalism, Food, and Technology. Since its inception, Kickstarter has secured over $2 billion in funding, from over 10 million people, to realize close to 100,000 projects. Starting a project is fairly straightforward, provided you satisfy the creator requirements. Anyone around the world can back the projects on Kickstarter, and based on the pledged funding amount, the backers (can) also receive awards, set forth by the project creators.
Pros: Basically synonymous with crowdfunding, Maximum project visibility/traffic, All or nothing scheme means that backers aren’t charged if the designated funding goal isn’t completely met.
Limitations: Strict project approval process, Project creation restricted to only certain countries (See note below), Can’t be used for charity based funding.
Commission/Charges: 5% of total funding secured. In addition, (3% + $0.20) are charged per transaction, as payment processing fees.
Note: Project creation is restricted to – US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.
Easy to get started with and an extremely well known name among crowdfunding sites, Indiegogo has been used to raise funding for projects such as the Ubuntu Edge smartphone (although the funding goal wasn’t met). The website hosts innumerable funding campaigns, including everything from Community and Education, to Film and Writing. So far, more than $800 million have been raised via Indiegogo, and over 9 million people have backed up numerous projects hosted on it. It allows the campaign creators to choose from different flexible funding plans for easier fund collection. Indiegogo even has a sister site, Generosity, geared specifically towards securing funding for social and charitable causes.
Pros: Project creation available anywhere around the world, Less strict for accepting projects, Both Keep it all and All or nothing funding schemes available, Analytics support.
Limitations: Lesser project visibility as compared to Kickstarter, Reduced project success rates.
Commission/Charges: 5% of (total or partial) funding secured. In addition, 3-5% are charged per transaction, as payment processing fees.
If you want to secure funding for a charitable or community oriented cause, or wish to pledge financial support for such initiatives, there’s no better place to get started than GoFundMe. And although the website is primarily focused towards raising funds for social causes, it can also be used to collect financial support for personal life-events such as family gatherings. Getting started with a fundraising campaign is pretty simple. And if you’re stuck somewhere, GoFundMe has a 5-minute email support to help you out.
Pros: Easy to use, All secured funding can be kept.
Limitations: Campaign creation restricted to a few countries, No PayPal support.
Commission/Charges: 5% of each donation. In addition, (1.4%-4.25%) are charged as payment processing fees.
Although primarily intended to be a platform for easy collection and processing of donations made to registered charities, JustGiving can be used to secure funds social causes supported by individuals as well. Pledging financial support is easy, and can be done directly via credit/debit cards. If the charity and donor are based in the UK (JustGiving’s home country), the donations can be sent via SMS too. Apart from that, the donations can also be directly sent to the charities after adding references to JustGiving, thus reflecting the amounts on the fundraising page set up for the charity. JustGiving operates on the Keep it All model, so funds can be kept even if goal isn’t met.
Pros: Multiple currency support, Additional tax exemption via Gift Aid (for UK based donors only), Transfer of donations on a weekly basis.
Limitations: Charities have to be registered with JustGiving, Restricted to (charities in) a handful of countries, with primary focus on UK.
Commission/Charges: 5% of each donation made. In addition, 2.95% are charged per transaction, as payment processing fees.
YouCaring is one of the better online places for running fundraising campaigns related to social causes. In the past, it has even been named the second most popular crowdfunding website related to philanthropic causes. There are numerous welfare causes, such as Adoption, Volunteer Projects, Veterans etc., for which you can either start a fundraising campaign yourself, or pledge your financial support. You can specify target goals as well as deadlines for the campaign, which can be easily extended. By its own stats, YouCaring has secured over $335 million, from a community of 4.5 million supporters. Donations can be made directly via credit/debit cards, and no account or anything of that sort is required.
Pros: No commission charged by YouCaring for the donations, Multiple social causes supported.
Limitations: Nothing major that we could find.
Commission/Charges: YouCaring doesn’t charge anything. Only, (2.9% + $0.30) is deducted as payment processing fees.
Following the usual approach of securing financial support via online fundraising campaigns, Razoo is catered towards everyone from individuals to non-profit organizations. Setting up a fundraising campaign is a trivial affair, and you can specify details such as target funding, deadline, and even set the impact level for specific donation amounts. Razoo also supports “Giving Days”, which are 24-hour long online fundraising events. The features of Giving days include scheduled donations, immediate fund transfer, and more.
Pros: Can be used for both personal and team-based charitable fundraisers.
Limitations: Relatively high platform fees, Information on the website a bit ambiguous.
Commission/Charges: 4.9% charged as platform fees. In addition, (2% +$0.30) are charged per transaction as payment processing fees.
It may not be as established as some of the other names on this list, but Ulule (or more specifically, its impact) has been growing steadily. So far, it has secured close to $50 million in funding, having successfully backed over 11,000 projects (Want more numbers? Check out Ulule’s live stats page). The European crowdfunding website hosts projects spread across a diverse spectrum of categories such as Music, Technology, Heritage, and Games. Ulule follows the All or Nothing funding scheme, which means that if the funding goal isn’t met, the backers aren’t charged.
Pros: Moderated project approval reduces chances of fraudulent campaigns.
Limitations: Project creation limited to countries in the European Union, Pricing structure slightly confusing.
Commission/Charges: Varies according to the funds collected; starting from 6.67% for credit/debit card payments, and 4.17% for check/PayPal payments (For detailed breakdown, Visit here)
Just like the previously discussed Ulule, Patreon has also acquired quite a bit of popularity in a relatively short amount of time. It can be considered as a specialized crowdfunding platform that’s geared more towards Comic artists, YouTube content makers, Podcasters etc., as compared to budding entrepreneurs. Patreon allows artists to secure funding on a recurring basis. So if you’re an indie artist churning out artworks on a regular schedule, Patreon might be just what you need to get going. That being said, Patreon has been a target of a massive hacking attack in the past, so be a little careful while proceeding.
Pros: Recurring or per-creation funding options for patrons for easier continued support, No geographical restrictions.
Limitations: None in particular, except for the questionable account security measures (in view of the past hacking attack).
Commission/Charges: 5% platform fees. In addition, 4-6% are charged per transaction as credit card fees.
What’s (probably) most interesting about CrowdRise is that one of its co-founders is actor Edward Norton (Yep, The Incredible Hulk!). That out of the way, CrowdRise is a platform designed to raise funds for individual causes, registered charities, as well as popular events such as marathons. Once a fundraiser profile has been set up, it can be shared on social networks for better visibility. It even comes with services like custom branding and emails, redeemable reward points, and instant access to funds.
Pros: Fairly easy to use, Backed by big names and trusted by well-known charities and events.
Limitations: None that we could find, except for the weird (although funny) questions sprinkled in the usual FAQ section.
Commission/Charges: (5% or 3%) out of every $100 secured in donation. This includes credit card fees as well.
Designed to be an easy way of securing donations for both individual and community focused social causes, GiveForward works pretty well for what it is. In addition to financial support, the website provides numerous ways of pledging assistance to the causes, like sending household items to those in need, and even organizing meals. Per its own stats, GiveForward has raised over $180 million for various causes. It operates on the Keep it All scheme, so donation amount can be kept even if the target isn’t met.
Pros: Robust community support for numerous social causes, No (mandatory) goal or deadline requirements, Personal fundraising coaches.
Limitations: Restricted only to the United States.
Commission/Charges: 5% platform fees. In addition, (2.9%+$0.30) per donation are charged as payment processing fee.
Whether it’s musicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, film-makers, or just about anyone else, RocketHub is meant to serve as a crowdfunding platform for everyone. It operates on the Keep it All model, the funds can be kept even if the target isn’t met. The popularity of RocketHub can be judged from the fact that in the past, it has been endorsed by organizations as big as the US Department of State.
Pros: Popular and associated with big names and organizations, Wide variety of creative causes can be crowdfunded.
Limitations: Comparatively higher costs, especially if funding goal isn’t met.
Commission/Charges: 4% of donation (if goal is reached). 8% of donation (if goal isn’t reached). In addition, 4% are charged as credit card handling fees.
If you live in India and are a looking forward to securing funding for your next big idea, WishBerry is definitely something worth checking out. It can be used to gather financial support for a diverse array of creative projects. It follows a pretty strict approval process for projects, and only accepts them if they are somewhat complete (and not merely ideas). Other than that, WishBerry makes it pretty much mandatory for creators to offer rewards to (potential) backers, as this increases chances of successful funding. It follows the All or Nothing model, so if the target goal isn’t met, the funds are returned to the backers (minus processing charges).
Pros: Specifically geared towards India, but anyone around the world can contribute (credit cards supported only), Consulting available for making rewards, pitch videos etc., Analytics support.
Limitations: Mandatory duration deadline requirement (max. 60 days), No PayPal support.
Commission/Charges: INR 2,500 (~$36) to be paid on project approval. In addition, 10% commission is charged on funds secured. Further, 14% service tax is charged on platform fees (not on the total amount raised).
Yet another crowdfunding platform for the folks living in India, Ketto lets you raise funds for both creative endeavors (e.g. Music, Fashion, Tech), as well as social causes (e.g. NGOs, charities). The platform has raised over $100 million for more than 4000 campaigns. As compared to WishBerry, Ketto’s approval process is a lot more relaxed. Project creators are provided with a personal account manager before a project goes live. In addition, Ketto also offers some unique services, such as a Cash on Delivery option for delivering gathered funds.
Pros: Keep it All scheme ensures funds are delivered even if target isn’t met, No hard deadlines.
Limitations: None in particular, apart from the ambiguous information regarding usage charges.
Commission/Charges: 8% of funds raised. In addition, there will be payment gateway charges.
If you want to contribute towards the advancement of scientific research, Experiment is probably the best place to get started. From dinosaur fossil excavations to historical study of monasteries, Experiment lets you crowdfund numerous scientific endeavors. Before being accepted, projects submitted on Experiment undergo a stringent approval process. There aren’t any rewards involved for backing. All or Nothing model ensures that backers are only charged if funding goal is met.
Pros: Specific focus towards funding scientific research. Results of scientific findings are shared with backers.
Limitations: Only available in the United States.
Commission/Charges: 8% platform fee charged.
In its own words, Fig is a curated platform that lets people crowdfund and invest in games. Fig is only a few months old (having launched in August 2015), but even then it challenges the “standard” crowdfunding approach. In addition to the regular “rewards” system available with other crowdfunding websites, Fig also allows early investors/backers of a game project to receive some part of the profits, once it’s released. The website has been gaining traction real fast, and only recently, successfully met the funding goal for the platform game Psychonauts 2, marking the largest funding goal achieved in video game crowdfunding history. How cool is that?
Pros: One shot focus towards gaming industry, Unique approach to make early backers partners in profits, All or Nothing funding scheme.
Limitations: Only available in the United States, Restricted to only one or two active projects at a time.
Commission/Charges: 5% of the total amount. In addition, 5% of game sales may also be charged based on specific deal terms.
Get your creative idea(s) on the fast track with these crowdfunding sites
With the emergence (and subsequent popularity) of crowdfunding platforms, gathering financial backing for that next big, creative vision of your is easier than ever, whether it’s a creative idea, a social cause, a scientific research, or a game. Take ’em all for a spin, and let us know which one(s) you’d be choosing for backing your vision, in the comments below.