The crowdfunding site Kickstarter has gotten so much publicity lately that you might think it’s your only option. But there are literally hundreds of other sites from which to choose. Here are some of the best, along with their key differentiators:
Kickstarter: With more than $350 million raised for projects since 2009, Kickstarter is the best-known crowdfunding platform, but it also takes the largest cut: a 5% flat fee, plus 3% to 5% for payment processing via Amazon. That means you typically pocket just 90% of pledges. And Kickstarter’s rules dictate that if you don’t reach your goal—even if you raise $9,500 out of the $10,000 you’re seeking—you get nothing. Despite these issues, Kickstarter has a reputation for helping people raise more money than any other site because of such high-dollar success stories like the more than $10 million raised for the Pebble watch this past May.
Indiegogo: The main reason people choose Indiegogo is that, unlike Kickstarter, it lets you keep all the cash you raise even if you don’t meet your goal. Such largesse doesn’t come free: Indiegogo keeps 9% of funds raised under this “flexible” funding plan, plus a 2% to 3% payment-processing fee. Otherwise you pay a 4% flat fee for Kickstarter-style “fixed funding,” plus the 2% to 3% fee. Indiegogo isn’t just some lame also ran, either. Comic Matthew Inman just raised $1.37 million on it to build a Tesla museum. (See video, above, on Wardenclyffe Tower, Tesla’s last remaining lab in Shoreham, NY, which will also be the site of the new museum.) And unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo allows charity and cause-oriented projects.
Rock The Post: If your creative project is also a legitimate, revenue-generating business—say, a t-shirt shop or a dance studio—raising funds on Rock The Post can set you apart from the flood of hobbyists and wannabes elsewhere. Rock The Post screens each project and only accepts those it considers likely to get funded—more than 90% of submissions are rejected. Once you’re in, an advisor will give you tips on how to reach your goal both before and during your campaign. The site takes a 5% cut plus an additional 3.5% for payment processing.
Gambitious: Games are among the most popular projects on crowdfunding sites. Kickstarter-backed games alone have raised more than $50 million so far this year. So it was only a matter of time before a gaming-centric contender set up shop. Gambitious is unique in that it requires game makers to submit an actual business plan. Backers either pledge money in return for standard perks (like a free copy of the game) or receive equity in the company if both the company and backer are in the European Union. (The equity option will be available to American backers next year once the JOBS act goes into effect.) Launched in September, Gambitious has already signed up some big names, including 3D Realms (of the Duke Nukem franchise), to give it street cred.
Others: Mobcaster helps independent TV producers get funding for their pilots and series. Invitation-only Slated connects independent filmmakers with investors for no fee. Emphas.is specializes in photojournalism projects seeking less than $25,000. Crowdsourcing.org keeps an updated directory of hundreds of crowdfunding sites, if you want to search on your own.