Kickstarter VS GoFundMe: Which Platform Is Best For Your Crowdfunding Campaign?
You can raise business funds on either platform. A few key differences (rewards, fees, types of campaigns) will help you decide which one works better.
Crowdfunding is a funding solution shaped to fit our precarious era. As our world careens from crisis to crisis, reducing us to neurotic spectators watching our phones and waiting for the next shoe to drop, one thing has become abundantly clear: The cavalry isn’t coming. There are no angels in the outfield, no kings across the water to save us. In this environment, Do It Yourself isn’t just a lifestyle branding trend but also a necessity for survival.
Enter Kickstarter vs. GoFundMe.
If you’re familiar with modern crowdfunding, you probably know that Kickstarter is for crowdfunding campaigns that support people who make things such as tech gizmos and fantasy board games, while GoFundMe is for personal causes. This is basically accurate, though it’s worth drawing some finer distinctions between the two.
In this GoFundMe vs. Kickstarter post, we’re going to compare and contrast these two platforms in greater detail.
Table of Contents
Kickstarter VS GoFundMe: Key Differences
Both Kickstarter and GoFundMe let you leverage the viral power of social media to raise funds. With both platforms, money donated to a campaign will have a portion of that money taken out in fees. That’s where the similarities end, though. Let’s run through the main differences:
- Kickstarter only allows crowdfunding for creative projects. Unlike GoFundMe, all Kickstarter campaigns are screened before they can go live. To be approved, your project must create something that can ultimately be shared with your backers upon the successful completion of your campaign.
- GoFundMe is a platform for charitable crowdfunding. While GoFundMe doesn’t prohibit business fundraising, most of its campaigns are about raising money to help people pay their medical bills and/or cope with personal tragedies and disasters.
- While both platforms let campaigners give rewards to their backers, with Kickstarter, rewards-giving is mandatory. With GoFundMe, rewards-giving is optional.
Which Platform Is Best For Your Crowdfunding Needs?
If you’re looking to launch a crowdfunding campaign, should you go with GoFundMe or Kickstarter?
Choose GoFundMe If…
- You want to raise money for a personal cause/emergency/tragedy, whether it be yours or that of a friend or family member
- You want to raise money for a business/entrepreneurial venture but want to avoid paying a 5% platform fee
- You want to raise money for a business/entrepreneurial venture but want to keep whatever you raise, regardless of whether you reach your funding goal
Choose Kickstarter If…
- You want to raise money for a business/entrepreneurial venture using the crowdfunding platform that’s most optimized for such ventures
- Your project involves producing something that can be offered to your backers in exchange for their support
- Your project is creative in nature (art, tech, film, board games, etc.)
Kickstarter VS GoFundMe: In-Depth Comparison
In this section, we’ll discuss the main differences between GoFundMe and Kickstarter in the following areas:
- Services and project requirements
- Pricing and fees
- The campaign process
- Customer service and technical support
- User reviews, complaints, and criticisms
Services & Project Requirements
Kickstarter and GoFundMe are both leaders in the crowdfunding industry, with each platform facilitating the raising of over 6 billion and 9 billion USD, respectively. This amount exceeds the crowdfunding total of any other platform. However, Kickstarter only allows crowdfunding for creative/business projects, while GoFundMe is primarily for personal and charitable causes.
Let’s get specific about the requirements each platform has for your crowdfunding campaign. Kickstarter has five iron-clad campaign rules:
- Projects must create something to share with others
- Projects and backer statistics must be honest and clearly presented
- Projects can’t fundraise for charity
- Projects can’t offer equity
- Projects can’t involve prohibited items
Additionally, all projects must be cleared by Kickstarter before they can go live. This process can take up to three days.
GoFundMe lacks a similar set of concrete rules for what constitutes a proper campaign on its site and likewise does not require campaigners to get pre-clearance before launching. Note, however, that like Kickstarter, GoFundMe forbids campaigns that involve illegal activities, weapons, porn, hate speech, fraud, drugs, and the like.
Pricing & Fees
Here’s how Kickstarter’s terms and fees compare with those of GoFundMe:
Up To 60 Days
Max Campaign Duration
All Or Nothing
Keep What You Raise
3% + $0.20 Per Pledge
Payment Processing Fee
2.9% + $0.30 Per Pledge
5% + $0.05 Per Pledge
Payment Processing Fee For Donations Under $10
Same As Above
As you can see, there’s one significant difference between Kickstarter and GoFundMe in terms of the fees assessed. Kickstarter takes 5% off the top, while GoFundMe has no platform fee. That doesn’t mean no fees are assessed to GoFundMe pledges, however — the payment processor will take 2.9% + $0.30 from each GoFundMe donation. Kickstarter pledges have nearly identical payment processing fees taken out, meaning that the funds a Kickstarter campaign raises will, in the end, have about 8% taken out in fees.
The terms of the two platforms’ campaigns also differ significantly. Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing when it comes to collecting the funds you raise from donors. What does this mean?
It means that with Kickstarter, your funding campaign can last anywhere from one to 60 days (Kickstarter recommends setting a funding period of 30 days, as data indicates that shorter campaigns are more likely to reach their target). If you don’t reach your fundraising goal by the end of your campaign, you won’t get any of the money raised. It will instead go back to the donors who sent it.
Since only about 39% of Kickstarter projects reach their funding goal, roughly 61% of Kickstarter campaigns result in the project taking in $0. While this sounds bad, Kickstarter makes a case for all-or-nothing funding with three points:
- It takes the pressure off of creators who fall short of their fundraising goal — otherwise, backers might expect campaigners to deliver results without the funds necessary to do so.
- Motivation. As Kickstarter puts it, “Adding a sense of urgency motivates your community to spread the word and rally behind your project.”
- Pointing to the data that shows that the projects that reach 60% of their funding goal end up meeting their funding goals 98% of the time, Kickstarter simply states that “it works.”
Do these arguments truly justify Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing funding policy? I’ll leave you to be the judge of that.
GoFundMe, by contrast, operates under the keep-what-you-raise crowdfunding model. You can set your campaign duration to whatever you want it to be. At the end of the funding period, you will receive whatever you’ve raised, regardless of whether or not you’ve hit your target.
As GoFundMe is primarily for personal and charitable causes, the justifications for having an all-or-nothing funding policy don’t apply. For the most part, these campaigns are launched by people who need every cent they can get and who aren’t trying to “deliver results” to backers.
The Campaign Process
The application process is relatively straightforward for both Kickstarter and GoFundMe. Essentially, you fill out details about yourself and your proposed crowdfunding campaign, hit send, and that’s it. There are some differences, though.
With Kickstarter, most (though not all) campaigns are flagged for further review based on the application details. Ultimately, Kickstarter estimates that about 80% of the campaign submissions it receives are approved. This number sounds pretty good, but given the volume of campaigns applying to use the platform, the unfortunate 20% constitutes a lot of campaigns!
GoFundMe, by contrast, lets you launch your campaign immediately, though it can always take down your campaign later on if you violate the rules.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Kickstarter’s customer service doesn’t have the best reputation. There is a support ticket system, but many campaigners have found that they can’t get in touch with Kickstarter quickly enough when time is of the essence.
GoFundMe gets higher marks from users when it comes to customer service. A check of GoFundMe’s Trustpilot page reveals a lot of praise from GoFundMe users regarding the speed and quality of customer support.
User Reviews, Complaints & Criticisms
Both Kickstarter and GoFundMe get a lot of criticism from users. This is perhaps unsurprising, given that the crowdfunding industry is barely out of its infancy. Kickstarter, in particular, gets criticized online by both backers and campaigners. Backers complain of shady companies that bail on their obligations by either failing to send them the promised rewards or sending broken/defective rewards. Campaigners complain of a lack of timely support from the company.
GoFundMe has seen a number of complaints as well, particularly from people who found it difficult to collect the money they raised due to GoFundMe not trusting them for one reason or another. However, GoFundMe’s user reviews have improved over the past few years, indicating that the company has taken into account past criticism and has improved the experience of the average campaigner. In this category, GoFundMe has a clear edge.
As the two leading crowdfunding companies, Kickstarter and GoFundMe target different audiences, so it wouldn’t make much sense to name a winner and a loser in this comparison. However, by highlighting the similarities and differences between the two outfits, we hope to give you a better sense of which platform you should use, depending on your funding needs.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. While crowdfunding may not be a comprehensive solution for startup undercapitalization or medical hardship, it’s the only option available in many cases. To that end, Kickstarter and GoFundMe have each raised billions of dollars for business projects and charitable causes that would have otherwise struggled for funding. Even when you consider that a certain portion of this money has gone to scammers, that’s still a significant sum of money that has been redistributed from willing donors to deserving projects and individuals.
Crowdfunding lets us harness the internet to solicit money for our small businesses and our own needs. It’s a tool available for all to use, so by all means, use it!
For more information about different crowdfunding options, check out the following resources.
- Skip The Banks & Get The Funding Your Small Business Needs From One Of These Crowdfunding Platforms profiles several different business crowdfunding options
- 7 Platforms That Support Crowdfunding For Nonprofits contains some helpful details about several platforms that facilitate nonprofit fundraising