There’s a certain moment that hits right after you’ve come up with a fantastic idea for your own business. While crafting a business website is more accessible than ever before thanks to sophisticated website builders, finding the capital to make your dream business actually happen is a whole different story.
The good news is, we live in an innovative world and the bank isn’t your only option anymore. In the last few years, the term ‘crowdfunding’ has become a part of every day lingo. As opposed to a one-time loan (see our guide on how to get a startup business loan) or waiting for a giant angel investment to come through, crowdfunding is the practice of raising money in small amounts from a large number of people (usually via the Internet).
Considering how successful this method has become, there are a couple of crowdfunding platforms you can choose from when starting your business. When selecting the correct one for you and raising money for your business, it’s important to consider all the fees, terms and conditions that come with it. Recently, some niche platforms have also popped up to serve specific audiences, like filmmakers.
To help you select the one that’s right for you, here are 15 crowdfunding sites you should know about in order to turn your dreams into reality.
Our first site is possibly the most popular name that comes to mind in the world of crowdfunding platforms: Kickstarter. Their mission is to help bring creative projects to life. As of 2019, Kickstarter has funded 445,000 projects in the music, art and tech field.
To get started, all you have to do is set up a goal and a time period. After it’s approved by Kickstarter, you can start promoting your campaign to friends, family members and donors.
Best suited for: A wide variety of innovators.
Costs involved: First, it’s important to note that Kickstarter has an ‘all or nothing’ approach. Which means, unless you raise 100% of your project, you don’t get any of the cash. If you do reach your intended goal, there’s a 5% fee and the payment processor will charge an additional 3-5%.
Indigogo was founded in 2008 when owners, Danae Ringelmann, Slava Rubin and Eric Schell faced a similar issue of trying to raise funds to make their own ideas come to life. This crowdfunding site enables millions of people to launch groundbreaking products as well as help surface innovations in tech and design.
Here, users can choose from two options: fixed or flexible funding. Fixed is most appealing to those looking to reach a predetermined figure. Flexible is ideal for those looking for any help they can possibly get. If you decide on the flexible option you will receive any money that is raised. However, with the fixed option you will only get your funds if you reach your target.
Best suited for: Entrepreneurs of all fields looking to get their projects out there in the early stages of development.
Costs involved: For both the fixed and flexible route you’ll encounter a 5% to release your funds. Plus an added 3% processing fee as well as $0.30 per transaction. (If you’re a nonprofit or your campaign is socially minded there are no fees involved.)
While GoFundMe is more geared towards social fundraising, personal causes or emergencies, businesses can use it as well. Majority of the campaigns on this platform are for people in need after illness or to help victims of natural disasters. Therefore, the donors of this platform tend to give to causes that come from within their personal network or social circles.
Due to the nature of this platform, there are no sign up fees, no deadlines or goal requirements and campaign owners get to keep everything that is raised.
Best suited for: Personal and social fundraising.
Costs involved: While GoFundMe doesn't take any fees, there are still the industry standard transaction fees (about 3%).
Here’s a platform that works a little differently. Patreon allows donors to submit monthly contributions. Making this platform an excellent choice for any creatives who produce and release continuous content (think of podcasts or YouTube channels).
Creators who use Patreon are able to build meaningful and long term relationships with their fans, generate predictable revenue and they can give their members exclusive access or benefits.
Best suited for: Digital creators such as YouTubers, podcasters and bloggers.
Costs involved: Patreon offers three types of memberships with different pricing plans: Lite (5% of the monthly income you earn), Pro (8% of the monthly income you earn) and Premium (12% of the monthly income you earn). Plus payment processing fees starting at 3%.
‘Raise money for anything’ is Fundly’s motto. You can use this crowdfunding platform to raise money for anything from personal health to special events. To get started, create your campaign page (and update it throughout), manage it through the Fundly app and harness the power of Fundly’s Facebook OpenGraph integration to spread your campaign far and wide.
As it’s not so business focused, there is no time limit or goal that needs to be met in order to receive the funds.
Best suited for: Nonprofits, charities, churches, schools, teams and any other cause for family and friends.
Costs involved: All users have to pay a 4.9% platform fee plus credit card processing fees.
LendingClub is on a mission to transform the banking system in order to make credit more affordable (and investing more rewarding). Since 2007, they have helped three million people achieve financial wellness.
This platform is what’s known as ‘peer-to-peer’ lending. You can apply for a loan for personal, medical and business needs. All you have to do is sign up, choose a loan offer that includes customized rates, terms and payment options (your loan options are based on what you intend to use the money for).
Best suited for: Personal or business loans.
Costs involved: Costs are dependent on amounts and loan options.
If you’re past the developmental stage and looking to scale up your flourishing business, then CircleUp is your solution. This crowdfunding site aims to create a transparent and efficient market to drive the innovation of consumer brands. What makes CicleUp unique amongst a list of competitors is that they offer both credit funding and equity. Plus, they boast an industry wide network and partnerships with brands like Amazon.
Best suited for: Entrepreneurs who are a little bit more established looking for additional funding and guidance to lead their business to the next stage.
Costs involved: The fee percentage is based on the total amount raised.
Your scientific discovery awaits with Experiment. From finding out how pigeons have evolved to pinpointing the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe—experiment gives scientists the backing they need in order to research and unlock new knowledge.
Unlike when scientists receive grants from universities, with Experiment, there is no overhead involved (which is usually 50-60%). However, the platform does operate on an ‘all or nothing’ basis. Meaning the project must meet the target or no one’s pledges are charged.
Best suited for: Scientific researchers.
Costs involved: It’s free to start a project but if you reach your goal, Experiment charges an 8% platform fee plus processing fees (between 3-5%).
Thanks to Chuffed, you can take action against the issues you care about most. In order to use this specific platform your campaign must be fundraising for a social, community or political cause that has a project with a defined outcome. Plus, all campaigns need to be approved by Chuffed before they are live. Chuffed has a detailed step-by-step guide on how to set up your campaign, how to write a catchy pitch, promote it and how to release your earnings.
Best suited for: Nonprofits and caused-based organizations.
Costs involved: Unlike the other crowdfunding platforms, Chuffed makes it so that donors pay the fees involved. On top of that, contributors are also encouraged to donate to Chuffed as well.
Causes is a social network of sorts combined with a crowdfunding platform. It’s the largest in the world and aims to bring impactful and important issues to light. As the name suggests, they focus on helping nonprofits who focus on social, political and cultural issues. While you raise funds for your cause, you can also find like-minded people by connecting with meaningful members who share the same passions as you and want to join in on your cause.
Best suited for: Nonprofits or anyone looking to raise awareness.
Costs involved: Zero.
SeedInvest started when two friends, Ryan Feit and James Hon, saw just how hard it was for their fellow classmates to raise capital for their startups. This crowdfunding site is best suited for those looking to make it big!
The process starts with creating an application which then needs to be approved by a screening committee. After that a team conducts in-depth due diligence on the your business, team and your product/service. After you’ve got the green light you can create a profile with all the information about your company and present it to investors.
Best suited for: Startups, high-growth and early-stage companies.
Costs involved: 7.5% placement fee that’s charged on the total amount raised. Additionally, there’s a 2% processing fee.
CrowdRise (now owned by GoFundMe) is all about giving back to causes, charities and personal fundraisers. It’s a great platform used by tens of thousands of charities in order to raise money for social initiatives. It’s easy to set up a fundraising website and there are no deadlines or penalties. An added bonus is that they offer personal customer support.
The platform is linked to many influential partners including, Red Cross, UNICEF, Ironman and many celebrities.
Best suited for: Personal funding, races, corporate philanthropy and charities.
Costs involved: It’s free to join and costs are covered by donors.
WeFunder knows the struggle and pain of fundraising first hand as they themselves have also raised cash to launch their platform. That’s what you call ‘eating your own dog food’.
Start a campaign, tell your family and friends about it (and of course the 245,360 investors on WeFunder). Most campaigns take anywhere from one to three months to reach their goals. WeFunder only charges you if your funding is successful so essentially you have nothing to lose on this crowdfunding site.
Best suited for: Various start-ups, business types and industries (Tech, food, hardware, software, retail and entertainment).
Costs involved: 7.5% of your investment (Which includes investment contracts, account manager, Escrow and more).
14. Seed & Spark
The film industry is a tough one to crack. Anything worth watching takes a good amount of cash to actualize. Enter: Seed & Spark. A funding platform specifically aimed at helping filmmakers. They boast an 80% success rate which could be due to their bank of helpful resources. Each project is given crowdfunding classes, personal feedback, crowdfund rallies and access to distribution options.
If you’re not a creator yourself but appreciate the art you can watch movies and shows directly on their site.
Best suited for: Filmmakers.
Costs involved: Seed & Spark takes a 5% platform fee but they encourage backers to cover the fee (up to two thirds of them opt to do so). Processing fees are $0.30 plus 2.9% of the actual pledge.
Whether you’re looking to fund an existing project or start up your own, GoGetFundraising is fast, easy and trusted my millions. Get going by creating your page, share it with your community and start accepting donations with credit/debit cards or PayPal. The platform operates on a ‘keep-it-all basis which means whatever you raise you get to keep. Also, you have access to the money at any time (unlike other platforms which only allow you to withdraw funds after the campaign has completed).
With GoGetFunding you also gives you access to a personal fundraising coach to help you raise more money.
Best suited for: Anything personal, from emergency medical treatments to travel adventures.
Costs involved: Transaction fees start at 2.9% and a $0.30 handling fee for every donation made.