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Top 15 crowdfunding sites for small businesses
With crowdfunding, just about anybody can pitch in to back your business.
Without the experience and proof of success, it’s often difficult to get the capital you need. Today, many young business owners are turning to crowdfunding to get on their feet.
Crowdfunding makes it easier than ever for your friends, family and even strangers to back your business. This list helps you quickly evaluate the leaders in the market to find the one that could work best for your needs.
You’ve no doubt heard of this Brooklyn-based platform — in some circles, “Kickstarter” is to crowdfunding what “Kleenex” is to tissue.
Kickstarter is designed to fund creative projects. But don’t worry if don’t claim “artist” or “musician” on your tax forms. Remember that guy who accidentally raised more than $50,000 to make a potato salad? That was on Kickstarter.
It’s an all-or-nothing platform — which means if you don’t reach your fundraising goal, you won’t get any of the money you raised. It also means that your backers won’t have to pay for your project, which could make donating more attractive.
How Kickstarter works
With Kickstarter, you raise donations toward a specific goal and specific project. You’ll pay an overall fee and then additional fees that vary by donation amount.
- 5% platform fee
- 3% plus $0.20 payment fee for pledges over $10
- 5% plus $0.05 for pledges under $10
- Name recognition means you’ll have more visibility.
- You get a bit of a fee break on smaller donations.
- Project must fit Kickstarter’s categories and requirements.
- The platform limits the types of projects you can fund.
- Projects are limited to 30 and 60 days.
More people have raised money on GoFundMe than on any other platform. It has a community of more than 25 million donors worldwide and supports just about any cause, including animal welfare, education, medical emergencies, charity, business and travel.
GoFundMe is all about flexibility. Sign up for either a personal or charity campaign and continue collecting funds well after you’ve reached your goal.
How GoFundMe works
Like Kickstarter, GoFundMe is a platform to raise donations toward a project. You’ll pay an overall platform fee and a fee on each donation.
- 5% platform fee
- 2.9% plus $0.30 processing fee for each donation
- Widely recognized brand, which helps with fundraising.
- GoFundMe waives processing fees for charities.
- You don’t have to establish a minimum fundraising goal.
- You won’t get many donations from strangers.
Indiegogo is the biggest crowdfunding name that specializes in entrepreneurs. It’s raised more than $1 billion for design, technology and innovation projects since it began operations in 2008. It also provides assistance every step of the way, from concept to marketing.
How Indiegogo works
This platform allows for two types of crowdfunding: equity, which allows startups to search for investors, and rewards-based, like that of Kickstarter. Similar to other platforms, you’ll pay a general platform fee and then a fee on each donation. You’ll also pay a transfer fee for payments outside of bank deposits.
- 5% platform fee
- 3% plus $0.30 processing fee per donation
- $25 transfer fee for nonbank payouts
- Focused on creative services, marketing and communications, prototyping, production, retail, licensing and distribution.
- Lower fees for charitable campaigns.
- Campaigns are limited to 60 days.
- You must provide rewards, even if you don’t receive full funding.
Industry-specific crowdfunding sites
Chances are there’s a platform for people in your specific industry. If so, these platforms typically tailor services to your needs and can attract backers looking to fund a project kist like yours.
Here are just a few examples of crowdfunding sites to check out:
- Appbacker and AppsFunder are designed to help app developers get their apps off the ground.
- If you’re a musician, PledgeMusic and Sellaband can help you get that album made.
- Fundanna and Cannafundr could help you grow your cannabis business.
- Experiment and Microryza offer scientists a nontraditional way of funding research.
- Barnraiser helps you raise money for projects related to sustainable farming or health.
This New York–based crowdfunding platform has been helping a diverse group of entrepreneurs get financed since 2010. It’s a go-to for philanthropists like Bill Clinton and Bill Gates — not to mention the US State Department.
Unlike Kickstarter, RocketHub allows you to keep all of the funds raised regardless of whether you meet your goals — although you’ll pay more in fees if you don’t succeed. It’s a popular way for businesses with a focus on arts and sciences to raise money for projects.
How RocketHub works
RocketHub works alongside up-and-coming entrepreneurs to raise venture capital. Its Elequity Funding considers your basic pitch and gets back to you within 72 hours to either request more information, deny your request for funding or draw open the floodgates for investors.
- 4% when a goal is met
- 8% if you don’t meet a goal
- 4% processing fee per donation
- Excellent customer service.
- Access to funds throughout the campaign.
- Discounted fees for successful campaigns.
- Less traffic than bigger-name sites.
- Projects have a shelf life of 30 to 75 days.
- Slightly higher fees than the competition.
Crowdfunder is an equity crowdfunding platform with a focus on connecting entrepreneurs and investors. With more than 12,000 angel investors and venture capitalists in its network, it’s funded more than 100 unique projects at an average deal size of $1.8 million. It contributes to startups at all stages and has fundraising coaches on hand to share industry knowledge and help optimize your pitch.
How Crowdfunder works
Crowdfunder is an equity-based platform that shies away from reward-based crowdfunding. Instead, investors claim a small stake in your company and sees a return in future profits.
- $449–$499 monthly membership fee
- Can benefit fundraising at all stages.
- Easy for investors to browse niche ventures.
- High monthly fee could deter new businesses.
- No access to smaller investors.
Nonprofits might want to consider Crowdrise, which specializes in charitable fundraising. Organizations like the American Red Cross, UNICEF and the Clinton Global Initiative regularly turn to Crowdrise to raise money. It offers starter, premium and enterprise options that come with tiered levels of customer support and customization.
How Crowdrise works
Crowdrise is a flexible fundraising option for people or events based on charitable giving. You have no goal requirements or deadlines to meet, and its customer service team lends a hand with marketing your campaign.
- 6% transaction fee
- 2.9% plus $0.30 payment processing fee
- Intuitive website is easy to navigate.
- Reward points are an incentive raise or donate money.
- You’ll pay extra to customize your platform.
- Starter package may not attract high traffic.
Crowd Supply launched in 2012 with product designers in mind. Though it shares some of Kickstarter elements, this Portland-based platform is essentially a preorder store. Instead of donating to a campaign for a reward, supporters preorder a product that needs funding as a way of supporting its manufacturing.
How Crowd Supply works
Crowd Supply is a little more exclusive with crowdfunding ventures. You’ll need to first pitch an idea to a team of experts and prove that if you raise the funds you’re looking for, you’ll be able to handle and carry out production. If you fail to meet a campaign funding goal, donations are refunded to your supporters.
- Platform fee of 5% to 15% of your goal
- 2.9% plus $0.30 fee per donation
- Expert guidance with campaign review and management.
- After your campaign ends, you can sell your product on the platform.
- Potential for high fees.
- Smaller backing community.
Launched in 2012, Experiment is an online crowdfunding platform that aims to discover, fund and share scientific research around biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering, earth science, computer science and medicine.
How Experiment works
This all-or-nothing platform allows backers to donate to fresh or ongoing research and experiments. People who back campaigns have access to lab notes and research results as the project unfolds.
- 8% platform fee
- 2.9% plus $0.30 fee per donation
- Provides additional grants to projects under specific categories.
- You maintain complete ownership and intellectual property rights.
- No funding if your campaign doesn’t reach its goals.
- Platform comes with high fees.
Razoo has done more fundraising for charitable causes than the biggest crowdfunding names combined. It’s because they offer special discount rates for registered nonprofits and charitable organizations. (But don’t worry, you can use Razoo to also raise money for personal needs.)
Razoo encourages charitable donations through events like Giving Day, a daylong community-based competition where nonprofits sign up and try to get the most donations.
How Razoo works
Razoo’s fundraising campaigns revolve around donations for general do-goodery, and its fees are set up to give charities a bit of discount over personal campaigns. There’s also a social media aspect that allows you to share and see what friends are supporting.
- 7.9% plus $0.30 fee per donation for personal campaigns
- 6.9% and $0.30 fee per donation charitable campaigns
- Expert guidance from a fundraising coach.
- Donors can choose to cover processing and platform fees.
- Less visibility than bigger-name platforms.
- Users complain about a glitchy website.
You can use Fundly to raise money for pretty much any project, but schools, nonprofits, charities and similar organizations are its cornerstone. It’s endorsed by Habitat for Humanity and Teach for America, and it’s willing to lend a hand to first-timers.
How Fundly works
Fundly is a donation-based, keep-what’s-raised platform that offers no rewards for backers. Campaigns thrive on social media and gain recognition through Facebook integration, photo slideshows and a comment wall.
- 4.9% platform fee
- 2.9% plus $0.30 per donation
- Withdraw your funds whenever you need them.
- It’s optimized for mobile users.
- Easy for first-time fundraisers.
- Pages are customizable.
- Platform comes with high fees.
- You aren’t able to offer rewards for donors.
Peerbackers is for the straight-up entrepreneurs out there. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are great for creative projects, but Peerbackers is one of the few sites specifically designed to get new businesses up and running. It offers campaign consulting services and can help you with marketing and multimedia — for a fee, of course.
How Peerbackers works
Peerbackers helps users raise funds for campaigns through donations in exchange for rewards. Any money you raise is yours to keep as long as you meet at least 80% of your goal.
- 5% platform fee
- 2.9% processing fee
- User-friendly site that’s more customizable than bigger names.
- Customer service is quick and reliable.
- Doesn’t rank high in search engine results.
Designed to help small businesses meet a variety of fundraising goals, Fundable offers backers rewards or equity for each donation. Rewards help campaigns reach a wider audience of backers, but you’ll generally raise a smaller amount than you could otherwise get with equity fundraising. Equity allows you to raise a larger amount of money in exchange for a percentage of your company’s shares.
How Fundable works
Fundable’s all-or-nothing model trades equity or rewards for financial backing and collects no additional fees for meeting your goal.
- $179 monthly user fee
- 3.5% plus $0.30 per credit card transaction for rewards-based campaigns
- Supports donors of all sizes.
- Equity donations come without fees.
- Doesn’t support nonprofits and a handful of industries.
- Higher monthly fee than you’ll find with other platforms.
Have an idea for a product or technology that could make you rich — if only you had the funding? And the designer, the marketing team and … well, everything else. Quirky was built with you in mind: It’s a site that crowdsources ideas.
How Quirky works
You submit your idea, and the Quirky community decides if it’s worth funding. If greenlighted, you receive a small percentage of royalties from your produced idea. Since you’re not doing the heavy lifting, you don’t end up with a large percentage of profit from your royalties.
- 95%–98.5% of revenue from your product idea
- Minimum effort in developing a product.
- No fees — so you don’t stand to lose much.
- Limits your control over product design.
- You only get 5% to 1.5% of your revenues.
This Canadian crowdfunding platform has something for every fundraising campaign. FundRazr can work with you to access your funds right away or wait until you’ve reached your goal. It’s especially great for nonprofits, offering a service that connects you with people who are interested in getting involved in your fundraising efforts.
How FundRazr works
Donation campaigns are free to create, and you can choose from keep-it-all or all-or-nothing. Campaigns are subject to varying fees, though contributors are allowed the option to cover fees.
- 5%–7% platform fee
- 2.9% plus $0.30 payment fee per donation
- Versatile design platform allows you to personalize your compaign.
- Intuitive website is easy to use.
- Backers are typically limited to your personal network.
- Takes some time for your campaign to go live.
CrowdHut is a self-proclaimed “full service” crowdfunding platform that can guide those entrepreneurs who need an extra push to get their business rolling — both before and after your fundraise. Offering a hands-on approach, CrowdHut’s specialists consult with you. And once you’ve reached your goal, it sells your product on its site.
How CrowdHut works
Marching to its own beat, CrowdHut doesn’t do campaigns. That’s because it assists you in making your campaign a success. Crowdhut paves the road from the start of an idea to its final destination: the marketplace.
- 5% of raised funds
- 30% of sales from its online store
- Guidance every step of the way, even after you reach your goal.
- Use it alongside other crowdfunding platforms.
- Website is difficult to navigate.
- Platform has low name recognition.
With the emergence of more and more online crowdfunding platforms, there can be a lot to sift through to find the one that’s right for your business. The 15 websites listed here should give you a good overview of your top options. Be sure to consider the fees the website charges before setting up a campaign in order to avoid surprises once the money starts coming in.
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