The Art of Crowdfunding is actively seeking out, vetting, and adding to our list of crowdfunding sites, below. There are many different types of crowdfunding sites, each with a different focus, specialty, or funding model. Each crowdfunding site is grouped below to allow you to easily narrow your search to those sites that are relevant to you.
Is there a crowdfunding site that you’re a fan of that’s missing from our list? Please be sure to let me know, and I’ll check it out asap. It’s my goal that this becomes a comprehensive list, inclusive of rewards-based and equity-based funding models, personal fundraising, and real estate crowdfunding sites.
Rewards-based Crowdfunding Sites
A rewards-based crowdfunding site is one where crowdfunding campaign managers retain full ownership of the companies, and instead provide rewards (sometimes called perks) to those backers that contribute money. Usually there are several tiers of rewards available, depending on the amount contributed. The lowest tier rewards often consist of a simple thank you or T-shirt. Mid-tier rewards are usually the product being produced, typically at a discount to the expected retail price. The sky is the limit with the highest tier rewards, which may even include travel to the company’s HQ, an invitation to the launch party, or a spot in the movie, for example. Rewards-based crowdfunding sites are the most popular among the general public, and are responsible for the surge in popularity of crowdfunding overall.
Kickstarter is by far the most well-known and popular of all crowdfunding sites. For many, it is the only crowdfunding site they know. Kickstarter is known for high-quality, often highly publicized projects, is one of the earliest crowdfunding sites (launched in 2009), and has a clean, easy to use interface. Projects are limited to creative works only. Kickstarter is one of my favorite crowdfunding sites mostly because it focuses on games, film, and technology projects, which I am a huge fan of.
Indiegogo is arguably the 2nd most well-known crowdfunding site and is similar in many respects to Kickstarter. Where it differs is in its flexibility. Indiegogo is less restrictive on the geographical location that campaigns are based from and offers both all or nothing and flexible funding models. When first launched its focus was on Indie films (hence the name) but has since expanded to cover virtually any creative project you can think of. I find that Indiegogo has a more personal feel than Kickstarter, and this is reflected in the community as well.
The RocketHub crowdfunding site sets itself apart from its larger competitors by focusing on arts and science projects. I’m quite science-minded myself and enjoyed browsing the listings for various research projects in particular. RocketHub has far fewer projects listed than the likes of Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This may make it easy to reach the top of the search results but keep in mind that the site received far less traffic as well.
Patreon really sets itself apart from its competition by offering a unique take on crowdfunding. Instead of raising money for a single product launch or creation, Patreon campaigns seek out Patrons who agree to make ongoing monthly contributions. It’s really quite amazing — some campaigns are raking in tens of thousands of dollars per month on this platform. In return, patrons are provided with perks such as videos, works of art, behind the scenes access, or anything else in between.
Equity-based Crowdfunding Sites
An equity-based crowdfunding site offers opportunities for investors to actually buy ownership in the listed opportunities instead of simply receiving perks or benefits as with a rewards-based model. Ownership typically takes the form of shares in the company. As such, there are more legal implications and the transactions are much more complex with an equity-based campaign. There are therefore much more strict limitations both on what types of opportunities are offered. Investors must also be qualified and typically must have a minimum net worth and/or income to take part in the deals offered. The benefit can be great though if an innovative product really takes off.
CircleUp is an extremely high quality, but very selective equity crowdfunding site with a strict focus on consumer products and retail. They have an in-depth vetting process to gauge suitability for listing on the site, and only a relatively small percentage of companies are permitted to list. Typical campaign duration is 2-3 months, and on average about $1 million is raised. For smaller investors and those seeking more diversity, CircleUp also offers private equity funds known as Circles. All companies listed on CircleUp are required to have a tangible product or retail location, which provides a greater level of comfort as to the legitimacy of the investment being made.
Fundable is a bit of a hybrid crowdfunding site, as it offers both rewards-based and equity-based campaigns listed side by side. Interesting platform that I plan to spend a bit more time with. Fundable is the only crowdfunding site I know of to charge a flat monthly fee for hosting a campaign instead of a percentage of the funds raised.
Fundraising Crowdfunding Sites
The Fundraising genre of crowdfunding sites refer to those that primarily host campaigns run by an individual instead of a business. Instead of raising money to take a product into production, produce a film, or create a work of art as is typical with rewards-based crowdfunding sites, a fundraising campaign’s primary goal is usually to assist with a personal cause. Examples might be paying for tuition, assistance with medical bills, restoring a community landmark, or animal welfare. Due to the nature of these sorts of endeavors, rewards and equity don’t form part of the equation. Donations are based on the contributer’s generosity alone.
GoGetFunding is one of the largest and most well known of the personal fundraising crowdfunding sites. They offer a low-fee platform to host your cause and have various campaign options such as public/private, ongoing, and timed. All funds raised are collected by the campaign owner, regardless of whether the target is achieved.
GoFundMe has raised over $2 billion to date which ranks it right up there with Kickstarter. Its focus is squarely on personal fundraising efforts though, so don’t expect to find any drones or board games listed here. At least $500 must be raised through personal marketing efforts before each campaign will be listed publicly on the site. This serves to weed out the illigitimate listings.
FundRazr is yet another personal fundraising site, but claims to offer a streamlined process that can have your campaign up and running in under 5 minutes. This is likely true (although I haven’t tested it myself), but I question the quality of any campaign that would be launched in this sort of short timeframe. I suspect that it would be quite generic, which may not be an issue if soliciting donations from friends or relatives, but may be a problem for the general crowdfunding public.