With a staggering estimated 2000 crowdfunding platforms to choose from, how do you narrow them down to a shortlist of just a manageable handful?
Firstly, just because you have the ‘quantity’ to choose from, does not mean you a guaranteed to have the quality, meaning many can be dismissed very early on. Does the site look professional? Are there plenty of campaigns? Have the campaigns had recent donations? These are just a few of the things you should look for.
What about the type of platform? Do you want a site that specialises in equity funding? No? Great – move on. What about where you live – do they even service your country? Nope? OK, now we’re getting somewhere.
By a process of elimination, you should very quickly reduce the number of platforms that fit your general needs. So, to reduce this number further we need to focus on specifics and this is where knowing and prioritising your needs, reading the small print and researching the platform really pays off.
In no particular order, these are the most common priorities most crowdfunders have:
- How quickly can I set up a campaign? Some sites will not allow you to start collecting donations until they have approved your campaign. Others allow you to start accepting donations straight away.
- How quickly can I access my donations? Some sites will wait for 30 days after your campaign has ended, before issuing you with a cheque. Others will allow you to access your donations as and when needed – even when your campaign is still active.
- Do I want an ‘All or Nothing’ campaign? This means if you don’t reach your target donations are returned to your donors and you walk away with nothing.
- Do I want a ‘Keep All’ campaign? This means even if you don’t reach your target (or don’t set a target) you still keep your donations (minus any site or transaction fees)
- What are the fees? Fees can vary enormously so this is where reading the small print, or contacting their customer support team for absolute clarity really pays off. Some sites claim it is free to start a campaign on their site (but you will still be paying transaction fees, and your donors may be paying fees instead of you) Others will have low fees, but have penalties and charges if you want to keep funds raised but didn’t reach your target. Some even have registration or monthly fees.
- How easy will it be for donors to donate? Some sites may use payment options that require some considerable details from the donor or may expect them to register on their site to donate. Try making a test donation to a campaign on their site, but stop before committing the payment, just to see what your donors would need to do.
Once you have worked through these main questions, you are likely to have a few ‘favourites’ remaining. From here you should look at the functionality and support, tools and the little ‘extra mile’ features which best suit your specific needs.
- Are you campaign confident? If not, is their customer support responsive and helpful? Does the site offer plenty of hints and ideas to get you started? Does it have a blog or tutorials? It’s a great idea to test drive a site before committing to a particular platform
- How interactive is the site for you and your donors? Can you embed your campaign into your web pages? can it be shared effortlessly via social media and email?
- Does it offer automated features (such as thank you emails) to make your job easier? Or have the ability to have team members who can help with your campaign?
- Does it offer complete flexibility with how you manage your campaign? For example if you wish to change your target amount, edit your appeal, change your donation option, or even change the type of campaign entirely, does it allow this? Is it mandatory to add a video or a minimum number of photos?
- Does it have the look and feel that you want for your campaign? Can you tailor colour schemes, add as many photos and videos as you want? What about adding rewards, updates and comments?
- Does it suit your needs for your specific campaign?
So, is there anything else you could do? You could consider checking independent review sites, where users have added their thoughts and experiences using that particular platform. Another option is to contact someone who is fundraising on the site and ask what their experience has been.
‘Shopping’ for your crowdfunding platform will always be influenced by visual appeal and a gut instinct or preference – but with the information we, at GoGetFunding.com have provided, you may save a lot of money, frustration and wasted time in the process.