When our clients are planning a crowdfunding campaign, we’re often asked which platform we think is best for their project, Kickstarter or Indiegogo? Kickstarter has the name recognition (it’s the Kleenex or Xerox of the crowdfunding world), but is it the better platform? What are the benefits and drawbacks to using each site? To answer their question (and satisfy my own curiosity) I dug deep into the differences between each platform – from the kind of projects you can fund to the fees to their support after a campaign is funded.
What Can Be Funded
Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter pride themselves on the creative community they foster. Both sites have hosted successful campaigns to fund card games, innovative technology, and movies that wouldn’t have make it to the big screen otherwise. So what can’t you fund online? Well, a few things. Kickstarter specifically says that the project has to be a creative, one-time thing. The goal of your campaign has to be something tangible with a realistic completion date – no multiple rounds of funding, no ongoing projects. At the end of it you have to produce a CD, build that 3D printer, complete that coffee table book. Kickstarter also has a long list of prohibited items, including energy drinks, political fundraising, and “any item claiming to cure, treat, or prevent an illness or condition…” Indiegogo is less specific; saying only that you cannot create a campaign to “raise funds for illegal activities, to cause harm to people or property, or to scam others.”
Limits on Perks
Here’s where Kickstarter and Indiegogo have more in common: both of them lay out specific rules on what can and cannot be offered to backers. You cannot offer financial incentives as a reward, which means no offering equity to backers. If that’s something you want to do, head over to AngelList, Fundable, or one of the other Top 10 Equity Crowdfunding Websites for Startups. Just don’t try it on Indiegogo or Kickstarter! You’re also forbidden from offering alcoholic beverages as a perk, as well as airfare, weapons, or drugs. Pretty common sense stuff, right?
Costs and Fees
Both Indiegogo and Kickstarter take a portion of the money you raise. That’s how they can run these platforms after all! But the fees for each vary. Kickstarter, which requires campaigns to be all-or-nothing, takes a 5% fee as payment, and then takes a payment-processing fee of 3% plus $0.20 per pledge. Indiegogo allows two types of campaigns: all-or-nothing, and flexible funding. Both types take a 5% fee if you reach your goal, and have third party fees: 3% plus $0.30 per pledge for credit card processing, 3-5% for PayPal transactions, and a $25 wire fee. However, for fixed funding (all or nothing) if you don’t make your goal you don’t owe Indiegogo anything. For flexible funding, where you get to keep whatever money you raise, you owe Indiegogo 5% regardless. So you make $1000 of your $5000 goal? Still gotta give Indiegogo fifty bucks!
Marketing Your Campaign
Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer “Share Tools”: buttons that allow you to post your campaign to Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, as well as embed your campaign video or email it to a friend. The Campaign Owner (you!) and page visitors can both access these tools, which means you and your backers can easily share your campaign far and wide. Kickstarter and Indiegogo both allow you to post updates throughout your campaign. Indiegogo notes that campaigns that send out 3 or more updates earn 239% more money than those that just send out two. Kickstarter offers one marketing perk that Indiegogo doesn’t: the “Projects We Love” category. Projects We Love has its own section on the site, which already sets it apart and garners attention. Sometimes a project will also be featured on the front page of the site, which can be a HUGE boost for a campaign. And finally, Projects We Love can get featured in Kickstarter’s newsletters, providing a direct link to your campaign from a potential backer’s inbox.
Kickstarter and Indiegogo are fundraising platforms, but the actual fulfillment of backer rewards is up to the campaign owner. But that doesn’t mean that they’ll leave you hanging; both Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer assistance with campaign fulfillment. Kickstarter does so with their Fulfillment from A to Z guide, which has resources for manufacturing, merchandise, pledge management, publishing, and shipping. Indiegogo offers its own dashboard to help campaign owners manage orders, update contributor information, and stay organized while fulfilling. Plus, Indiegogo has partnerships with Amazon, Brookstone, and other major retailers that can partner with campaign owners to help them with manufacturing and distribution.
It can happen – you get enough backers, you get funded, but you are unable to complete your project. Maybe you miscalculated needed funds versus cost of perks, maybe the technology you wanted to create turned out to be impossible – whatever the reason, you are unable to fulfill your commitment to your backers. So what’s next? Well, both Kickstarter and Indiegogo indemnify themselves from Campaign/Backer conflicts. But both platforms TOS state that the Campaign is legally bound to “perform on any promise and/or commitment” to their Contributors, including Perks and Rewards. If you’re unable to, they require that you come to a “mutually satisfying” resolution. Both suggest that a refund can achieve that resolution, but Kickstarter takes it a step farther: Kickstarter says that the situation has only been remedied if the creator explains what work has been done, how funds were used, and what prevents them from finishing the project, and the creator must be able to demonstrate that they’ve “used funds appropriately”. Finally, neither Kickstarter nor Indiegogo guarantee legal protection. They are facilitating a contract between the campaign creator and the backers; if that contract is broken, your backers can (and sometimes do) sue.
So, in the end, which is the best platform? I actually don’t have an answer for you. Kickstarter is more structured, Indiegogo offers more integrated support, but they both have passionate communities of creators and backers. Whichever platform you choose, remember that a campaign’s success lies in the strength of its presentation and marketing. Create a great video, tell a compelling story, and share it with the world. That’s the best way to make sure your campaign, no matter which platform you use, succeeds.
Want to learn more about how MLP can help with your crowdfunding campaign? Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.