Choosing the right crowdfunding platform for your business or project can be an overwhelming process. At face value, many of the popular sites can look identical, and the numerous factors involved can turn this into a complicated decision. The first step in choosing a crowdfunding platform is to ensure that you have a solid idea that will appeal to the crowdfunding model.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that people tend to pledge money for three different reasons:
1. They relate to the message or cause behind your project
2. They connect to the creative presentation of your materials
3. They are interested in a physical aspect of your project, i.e. the rewards
Before you create your campaign, its important to ask yourself these questions:
Are you trying to raise funds for a specific purpose?
Do you have a clear idea of what you will do with those funds, once received?
What genre does your project fall under?
Why should someone unfamiliar with your brand support your campaign?
Are you willing to put yourself out there and fundraise your heart out?
Once you are confident in the message of your pitch, and have gone through your project checklist, you are ready to choose a platform. The first thing to consider is the possibility of partial funding. While this may seem like a no-brainer at first, this is actually one of easiest ways that small businesses can fail. If your product requires $10,000 for production costs, and you only raise $2,000, you might not have enough capital to fund the orders you committed to. Since you committed to those orders, you’ll be obligated to fill them, even if it means paying out of your own pocket. It’s also important to think of the people you are asking for money. Consumers may be hesitant to give money to a company that is not guaranteed to meet its required funds, since they are incurring more risk with their pledge. This could mean a huge loss in pledges for your campaign, just from a security standpoint.
On the flip side, if your goal is $10,000 and you only raise $8,000, it can be disappointing to be so close and not receive any funds.
If your business or idea can be sustainable without reaching its full goal, then partial funding might be a good option for you.
Then you need to consider the brand value of the platform you will eventually choose. While many platforms accept different types of projects and differentiate themselves by genre, certain crowdfunding sites have emerged as experts in their specific field.RockThePost, the company I co-founded, focuses on entrepreneurs and small businesses while shying away from community projects and fund my life campaigns. If you want a broad, non-focused platform, Indiegogo is a good option. Causes.com hosts a fundraising section on their site that allows people to donate to a cause they connect to. GreenUnite hosts eco friendly and sustainable projects in any genre, connecting earth conscious individuals and corporations. The great thing about a platform’s differentiation is the built in consumer base. If your project has a clear message and supports a good cause, you will probably be targeting the consumer base that Causes.com already has, whereas a general site might not garner as much attention to your specific project. If your project fits into the arts and creative space, Kickstarter is your go to.
The final aspect to consider is the amount of assistance given for your project creation. Do you want someone walking you through the entire process, or are you more of an autonomous worker, preferring a simple tutorial and complete control?
This is more of a personal decision than a business related one. If you are a professional videographer, with a clear vision of the why, what, and how of your project, then you might not need much assistance creating your campaign. However, working with a platform that walks you through every step of the crowdfunding process has an obvious benefit. Your project won’t be launched until it has been completely revamped by the review team.
From video editing assistance, to notes on your copy and rewards, its nice to have that extra attention to help ensure your project is visually the best it can be. It’s also good to keep in mind that certain sites retain the rights to approve or deny your project, depending on its theme and contents. If your project doesn’t fit in with the theme of a site, it runs the risk of being rejected due to a lack of certain criteria.
Once you have identified the characteristics, genre, and fiscal situation of your campaign, you can then properly determine which crowdfunding site will provide you with the highest chance of success. Remember, the key to crowdfunding is understanding why you do what you do and how that will draw in consumers. So be clear about your message and your campaign goals, and you’ll be able to find the perfect platform to crowdfund your project on.