Crowdfunding campaigns may seem like a recent concept, but believe it or not, they’ve been around for quite some time.
It was the spring of 1920 when Marie Maloney, an editor of The Delineator magazine, traveled from New York to Paris to meet Marie Curie for an interview. That’s when Maloney learned that Marie Curie – who discovered radium in 1898 – couldn’t afford a new radium supply to continue her research.
Maloney was determined to help Curie obtain this element, even though a gram of radium at that time cost $100,000 — the equivalent to around $1.3 million today. That didn’t prevent Maloney from organizing a group of women in the United States and forming the Marie Curie Radium Fund.
The Fund was so successful that it managed to raise this sum in less than a year – and it even exceeded the goal with an additional $56,413 – thanks mostly to small donations from many women across the US.
This was the first known crowdfunding campaign, although it wasn’t called that at the time.
Today, there are dozens of crowdfunding sites across the internet. In 2019, $34 billion was raised through more than 6.4 million crowdfunding campaigns hosted globally.
In this article, we’ll walk you through our curated list of the best crowdfunding sites for various industries to help you choose the right platform for your cause.
Table of Contents
How Do Crowdfunding Sites Work?
Crowdfunding sites have a single purpose – to raise funds for a cause, project, event, product or any other situation through online campaigns backed by donations from a large number of people or from organizations.
The majority of crowdfunding sites work on these principles:
- Every campaign has a pre-set amount as a desired goal
- Every campaign has a deadline or a specific timeframe
- If a campaign reaches its goal, the host can collect the funds (minus platform fees)
Statistics show that 22.4% of all campaigns are successful. And of those that succeed in reaching the desired amount, 78% exceed their fundraising goal.
According to the same source, the most popular types of campaigns are:
- Peer-to-peer crowdfunding as a way for individuals to lend and borrow money without the interference of financial institutions (80% of the global amount raised)
- Reward and donations crowdfunding as a way to raise funds for causes, events, charities, projects, products and more, using incentives as a reward for campaign backers (15%)
- Equity crowdfunding as a way for start-ups, SaaS companies and small businesses to fund a business while promising an equity share to investors (5%)
The right type of campaigns and platforms for your projects will vastly depend on your personal or professional preferences, your campaign purpose and your business industry.
That’s why we divided our list of the best crowdfunding sites into three categories – non-profit campaigns, creative projects and new products – to help you make a better-informed decision.
Let's check them out.
Best Crowdfunding Sites For Non-Profit Campaigns
Classy is a crowdfunding platform that helps non-profits and charities organize digital fundraising events, start recurring donation programs, back up international giving days, create capital campaigns and even design their own microsites to let supporters get involved in different ways.
With Classy, you can create customized mobile-friendly campaigns, issue branded receipts and send emails or personally thank donors in real-time through the activity feed. Campaigns can include suggested giving amounts, sponsor matching contributions and branded eCards.
There’s also a rich library of worksheets, webinars, guides and articles to help you learn more about making successful campaigns and accomplishing goals.
DonorDrive offers powerful digital tools to help you make a bigger impact with your non-profit campaigns for small, medium and enterprise-size organizations.
For example, you can use Active Impact™ to activate your participants to exercise for your cause and move your fundraising bar up, while Live Fundraising™ can bring your supporters together on a live streaming fundraising platform.
DonorDrive is a user-friendly platform for peer-to-peer fundraising, donation crowdfunding and virtual fundraising events with simple configurations, personalized pages, social integrations and supporter badges for the recognition of accomplishments.
CharityVillage is a multi-purpose platform for non-profits and charities. It offers reward campaigns, peer-to-peer events, DIY campaigns, walk and run fundraisers, microprojects and sponsorship campaigns.
The campaign setup has a few simple steps to help you add a campaign overview as well as your organization story, images, videos, banking details and even issue tax receipts. It also includes social media sharing to help you promote your campaign via different channels and attract more donors.
Every campaign you launch through CharityVillage includes a customizable landing page, distinctive CTA buttons for donations, secure payment options, automatic tax receipts and advanced social sharing to help you capture the interest of a larger audience and engage your community.
Best Crowdfunding Sites For Creative Projects
For over a decade, Kickstarter has been one of the most popular crowdfunding sites, with more than 13 million campaign backers and over $3 million raised so far. Currently, there are almost 500,000 campaigns on the platform.
On Kickstarter, you can launch projects within arts, comics, illustration, design, music, film, technology, crafts, games and publishing industries as well as any other creative project hosted by an individual or an organization.
This platform is based on a reward crowdfunding principle and it runs on an all-or-nothing model – if your campaign hits 100% (or more) of your goal, you can collect all the funds, but if not, you won’t get anything.
GoFundMe is a crowdfunding site mostly used for personal campaigns, life events and personal causes like paying for education, medical treatments, a family trip or creative projects.
The latest addition to the platform is the Team Fundraising option designed for teams and groups of all sizes to raise money together through leader boards and collaborative tools.
After the fast and simple setup, you can personalize your page, share it on social media and manage the campaign through the GoFundMe mobile app. If you meet your goal, you can withdraw the funds immediately.
Patreon is more of a membership-based platform, compared to a typical crowdfunding site.
It provides creators from all walks of life with the possibility of promoting their projects, podcasts, publications, artistic practice or any other kind of creative work and have it backed by monthly subscribers.
More than 200,000 creators actively use Patreon to offer exclusive content and build a community of fans, grow their impact and gain a recurring monthly income.
If you start a project on Patreon, you can use the platform to interact directly with your followers, reward them with various incentives for their support and add value to your offer through integrations with Vimeo, Discord, Mailchimp, Crowdcast and other platforms.
Best Crowdfunding Platforms For New Products
Indiegogo is an ideal crowdfunding site for entrepreneurs, start-ups, SaaS businesses, emerging tech companies and innovative consumer goods producers. It’s where early adopters and investors go to find (and back) new products and innovative solutions before they hit the mainstream.
To put this into perspective, at the InDemand section only, where Indiegogo features successful projects that continue to raise money after the campaign, there are currently 27 projects backed by 190,000 supporters with more than $79 million raised so far.
Thousands of live crowdfunding campaigns launch every week on Indiegogo and they often provide limited-time perks or special pricing options for the earliest backers, especially for products in the concept and prototype stages of production.
2. Crowd Supply
Crowd Supply is a crowdfunding platform dedicated to promoting original, useful and feasible hardware and helping producers deliver on their promises.
It operates like a business incubator of sorts, offering strategy, management, funding and even dedicated PR teams to creators, as well as storing, packing and shipping the products directly from the Crowd Supply’s warehouse.
Such a meticulous approach has helped the creators organize campaigns with a success rate of 80%, which is twice the success rate of comparable Kickstarter projects.
This platform puts end users first and operates under its own Proclamation of User Rights which all campaign organizers agree to uphold.
Fundable is an ideal crowdfunding solution for selling new products and taking pre-orders, as well as raising funds from accredited investors.
If you own a B2C company and want to fund a product through Fundable with a goal under $50,000, then the reward-based crowdfunding campaign might be the best fit for you.
If you run a promising start-up, a B2B business or you offer professional services and you want to raise up to $10 million directly from investors, then equity-based crowdfunding would be a better solution for your campaign.
You can create a profile on Fundable for free, but if you want to start a campaign, there’s a monthly fee of $179, which makes this platform a bit expensive. It’s also one of the most successful crowdfunding sites, with more than $615 million raised so far.
The Most Popular Crowdfunding Sites: Kickstarter vs. GoFundMe vs. Indiegogo
Kickstarter, GoFundMe and Indiegogo have been the most popular crowdfunding sites for several years.
Let's compare them to see what they have in common and what makes them stand out from one another.
Key points for Kickstarter:
- Best for creative projects in the arts and culture industry
- Fundraise for art, music, film, dance, books, illustration, design, etc.
- Reward-based crowdfunding with all-or-nothing principle
- 5% platform fee for all campaigns that hit the goal
Key points for GoFundMe:
- Best for personal projects and life events
- Fundraise for education, medical, emergency, travel, sports, etc.
- Donation-based crowdfunding with all-or-nothing principle
- 0% platform fee in almost all countries now (used to be 5%)
- A sister platform of Indiegogo
Key points for Indiegogo:
- Best for innovative tech products, social impact and environmental innovation
- Fundraise for tech, product design, audio, accessories, fitness, environment, etc.
- Fixed and flexible campaigns with a 5% platform fee
- Collection of funds possible even if you don’t hit the goal
- No fee if you don’t meet the goal for a fixed campaign
- 9% fee if you don’t meet the goal for a flexible campaign
Note: There’s an additional 3-5% payment processing fee on all platforms.
The Bottom Line
As the crowdfunding industry continues to grow, more and more individuals, businesses and organizations use crowdfunding platforms to support a wide range of causes, projects and products.
To create a successful campaign, you should:
- Carefully prepare your project before the launch
- Promote your campaign on social media and other channels
- Be personally involved throughout the campaign
- Work hard on engaging your network to help you hit your goal
Use our list of the best crowdfunding sites to evaluate each of them and choose the right one for your next project. Choosing the best fit for your needs will increase your chances of meeting (and exceeding!) your aspirational crowdfunding goals.