Kickstarter Alternatives: 9 Sites Like Kickstarter For Business Funding
Anyone who has considered crowdfunding in the pursuit of business funding has almost certainly looked into Kickstarter. And why not? Kickstarter has come to dominate the conversation when it comes to tapping the internet to fund creative projects, and it’s not hard to see why. At last count, Kickstarter has seen over $4.5 billion pledged to projects on its site, nearly 17 million total backers, and over 171,000 successfully funded projects. (Don’t be surprised if these numbers have grown by the time you read this.)
There have been some pretty outlandish projects that have succeeded on Kickstarter (and subsequently ridiculed on social media). The Pause Pod, a personal indoor tent, and the RompHim come to mind. So you may be tempted to think that just about any goofy project can get funded with Kickstarter.
I hate to have to break this to you, but that just isn’t the case.
First of all, Kickstarter is a selective platform. You can’t just sign up for an account and start fundraising. Unlike most of the competition, Kickstarter pre-screens all potential projects before giving them the go-ahead (or not). Another thing to consider: Kickstarter mandates that all projects raising money on its site “must create something to share with others.” If your business venture isn’t involved in producing a tangible item, you’ll need to choose another crowdfunding platform.
Another Kickstarter trend to bear in mind is it’s becoming a platform where projects backed by investors and crowdfunding agencies have a distinct advantage in vying for the public’s money. A HuffPost article by Nathan Resnick titled “Why Kickstarter Is Corrupted” details some of the concerns long-time users have had with the platform, including the rise of paid advertising and investor-backed campaigns. The article was written a few years ago, but in the time since, it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier for the average person to succeed on the platform.
One last limiting factor with Kickstarter that I’ll mention is that one can launch a campaign only from the US, Canada, Mexico, most of Western Europe, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. That leaves out some rather large portions of the world.
This isn’t to steer you away from Kickstarter — our Kickstarter review is mainly positive — but rather to warn you that Kickstarter, for all its pluses, isn’t a great fit for everybody.
As it turns out, startups, entrepreneurs, and businessfolk have many alternatives to Kickstarter when it comes to dragging the cyber-lake for dead presidents, so to speak. In the interest of giving you a fuller picture of the crowdfunding industry, I’m highlighting nine sites like Kickstarter for all you budding innovators out there.
Other Featured Options:
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Table of Contents
Our Top 9 Picks For Kickstarter Alternatives
- Equity crowdfunding for accredited AND non-accredited investors
- All-or-nothing funding
- Best for unique startups with exponential growth potential
Wefunder is an equity crowdfunding platform like Crowdfunder. What sets Wefunder apart from Crowdfunder and many other equity crowdfunding sites, however, is that Wefunder lets businesses raise money from anybody who wants to invest, not just accredited investors. And when it comes to equity crowdfunding for non-accredited investors — sometimes referred to as Regulation Crowdfunding — Wefunder is the market leader. It currently holds 44% of the market share in Regulation Crowdfunding. In a young industry that’s still finding its sea legs, Wefunder has a track record of success.
You can set up a Wefunder profile for your company for free. However, if you meet your funding goal by the end of your campaign (Wefunder’s funding model is all-or-nothing), Wefunder will take “up to 7.5%” of what you raise. You won’t have to pay payment processing fees on top of that — the investor bears those fees.
Wefunder doesn’t curate the companies on its platform the way many equity crowdfunders do. You’ll be allowed onto the platform so long as you don’t violate the rules. You can raise anywhere from $20,000 to $1,070,000, and individual investors can invest as little as $100 in your company.
- Rewards and equity crowdfunding
- Keep-what-you-raise AND all-or-nothing funding available
- Best for filmmakers, techies, and game makers
- Continue raising money after your initial campaign succeeds with InDemand
Launched in 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival, Indiegogo was initially conceived as a way to crowdfund independent film projects. Soon thereafter, Indiegogo changed its mission to encompass a broad array of both business and charitable campaigns. And while Indiegogo subsequently spun-off its charitable crowdfunding into the Generosity platform — which was acquired by YouCaring, which in turn was acquired by GoFundMe — the platform’s commitment to supporting creative projects remains.
Indiegogo shares a lot in common with Kickstarter. Both platforms have become a haven for fundraising campaigns relating to tech/gadgets and creative works, such as board games, art, music, and cinema. Both platforms facilitate gift-giving between campaigners and backers to motivate potential backers to get involved. Lastly, both platforms take roughly the same cut of what the entrepreneur/creator raises. For a US-based creator, both platforms take 5% off the top, while the payment processor takes an additional 2.9% + $0.30 per pledge with Indiegogo. With a Kickstarter campaign, the payment processor takes 3% + $0.20 per pledge, which isn’t much of a difference.
However, the two platforms differ in some significant respects as well. For example, Kickstarter only lets you keep the money you raise if you meet your funding goal. Indiegogo enables you to choose between launching an all-or-nothing campaign a la Kickstarter or a keep-whatever-you-raise campaign. While there are merits to either crowdfunding approach, it’s nice that Indiegogo gives you the flexibility to decide which method is right for your project.
A second difference between the two platforms is that while Kickstarter requires that you offer physical rewards to your backers in exchange for their support, Indiegogo does not. Now, Indiegogo permits you to offer rewards in exchange for backers’ support. In fact, it recommends it, noting that campaigns offering “perks” raise 143% more money than those that don’t — but it leaves that decision up to you.
Another point of departure from Kickstarter is that Indiegogo does not pre-screen projects before letting them onto the platform the way Kickstarter does. Indiegogo presents itself as a more freewheeling platform than Kickstarter with fewer choke points and barriers to entry, and the policy of not pre-screening is in keeping with this ethos. As crowdfunding was initially intended to benefit the little guy/gal (not outfits supported by outside investors and agencies), I tip my cap to Indiegogo for this.
Unfortunately, the flip side is that backers of Indiegogo projects run a higher risk of not getting their promised rewards from campaigns that fail to deliver on their promises.
Another cool feature of Indiegogo is its InDemand program. InDemand allows you to continue raising funds indefinitely on an ongoing basis after you’ve met your funding goal with your initial crowdfunding campaign. Your initial campaign doesn’t even need to have been with Indiegogo. However, your campaign must have reached its funding goal to use InDemand — it’s an absolute requirement.
Indiegogo is a fine alternative to Kickstarter if you’re looking to get your business venture funded. I found numerous comments online from people who had been rejected by Kickstarter and subsequently took their campaign to Indiegogo and found fundraising success. Indiegogo’s customer service is generally regarded as being superior to that of Kickstarter as well.
- Continuous rewards crowdfunding
- Collect funds monthly
- Best for podcasters, YouTubers, musicians, and other artists
Launched in 2013, Patreon has become the leader in continuous crowdfunding. Creators and entertainers of all varieties have found Patreon’s particular model of ongoing rewards crowdfunding to be a good fit. As of October 2019, Patreon campaigns are cumulatively collecting over $11 million per month via the platform, according to Graphtreon.
Patreon is a better choice than Kickstarter if you’re in the business of creating things regularly. In 2013, shortly after Patreon’s launch, founder Jack Conte described the platform like so:
I’m releasing new things on a monthly basis. I have friends releasing material weekly, Conte said. They’d have to almost invent an excuse to raise money after going on Kickstarter once. We’re saying, No, no. Don’t make up a new endeavor. Keep doing what you do best and let people pay you each time you do that.
With Patreon, backers don’t just support you with a one-time payment. They sign up to support you on a recurring basis, either per month or per creation, with the expectation that you will release content continuously. That makes Patreon an ideal platform for artists, musicians, and podcasters who seek to monetize their audience. What better way to make money off what you do than to get support from the very people who seek out your content?
Unlike Kickstarter, Patreon doesn’t require you to provide exclusive content to your backers (or “patrons,” as Patreon refers to them), though Patreon highly recommends it. It’s hard enough to get people to commit to you on a recurring basis financially — it’s all the more difficult if you’re not offering anything in return! (Also note that unlike InDemand, Patreon does not require that campaigners have any history of success with crowdfunding.)
Patreon requires that you sign up for one of three different tiers of service. Under the Patreon Lite plan, Patreon takes 5% of what you earn as a platform fee (plus payment processing fees). However, to get access to advanced crowdfunding features, such as membership tiers for your patrons, advanced analytics, and unlimited app integrations, you’ll need a Pro plan (Patreon takes 8% in fees) or a Premium plan (12% fee).
- Rewards and equity crowdfunding
- All-or-nothing funding
- Best for makers of consumer products with high growth potential
Fundable is a more button-down crowdfunding platform than Patreon, and its funding model is more akin to that of Kickstarter. However, Fundable differs from Kickstarter in a few key ways, as I’ll explain.
Founded by Wil Schroter and Eric Corl in 2012 and launched in Ohio, Fundable is strictly for businesses looking to raise capital. As of this writing, Fundable has facilitated $571 million in funding for its campaigners. That’s a bit more than a tenth of the amount raised on Kickstarter. Indeed, Fundable isn’t as popular a service as Kickstarter is, but let’s explore whether the platform may nonetheless work for you.
Unlike Kickstarter, Fundable doesn’t take a 5% cut of what you raise. Instead, it charges campaigners a flat fee of $179 per month. That can be a daunting prospect considering that many crowdfunding campaigns fail. However, if you have a successful campaign that sees you raise tens of thousands of dollars (or more), you may end up saving a lot of money this way compared to Kickstarter. To illustrate this: 5% of $100,000 is $5,000 — math was never my subject, but that’s a lot more than a few monthly payments of $179!
Before you get too excited, keep in mind that the payment processor will still take 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction in a Fundable rewards campaign. (Equity campaigns operate under different rules.)
Like Kickstarter, Fundable requires pre-approval before your business can launch a campaign. Fundable also follows the Kickstarter all-or-nothing funding model. If your campaign doesn’t meet its funding goal, you get nothing, and you still have to pay the monthly fees to use the platform. Ouch!
However, there’s one major point of departure vis-à-vis Kickstarter. Along with rewards-based funding campaigns, Fundable lets you launch equity-based campaigns in which investors send you funds in exchange for an ownership stake in your company. Equity crowdfunding is a more difficult prospect than rewards crowdfunding, and only accredited investors can contribute. But for entrepreneurs and businessfolk prepared to deal with the complexities of equity crowdfunding, it’s an option that Fundable provides. In fact, for around $2,500, Fundable offers a premium service in which it puts you in touch with accredited investors.
I should mention that unlike the crowdfunding sites I’ve mentioned thus far, Fundable is strictly for US-registered businesses.
Podcasters and YouTube stars won’t find Fundable to their liking. For the right kind of business, though, Fundable can help raise some serious moolah.
- Rewards and charitable crowdfunding
- Keep-what-you-raise funding
- Mainly for personal causes; can be used to fund socially-conscious business projects
GoFundMe was founded in 2010 in San Diego. It has since grown to become a crowdfunding behemoth, and it’s the only crowdfunding platform that has raised more money than Kickstarter (over 5 billion and counting).
You might be wondering why I’m including GoFundMe on my list, considering that GoFundMe’s brand is associated with charitable crowdfunding campaigns, not business fundraising. It’s true that if you’re launching a business-related project that doesn’t have a larger purpose or social message, it’s probably not going to gain traction on GoFundMe. However, if your project concerns a business venture but can be framed in an uplifting way, or if it has some kind of social justice message to emphasize, you could indeed conduct a successful business crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. Here are a few examples:
- Fifty3 Motorcycles: Crowdfunding startup costs for a veteran-owned and operated business.
- Cassava: Raising funds to keep a community restaurant open.
- The Waffle Cookie: Raising startup costs for a business that supports a nonprofit.
A GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign does bear some similarities to a Kickstarter campaign. GoFundMe gives you the tools and the bandwidth to launch a crowdfunding campaign and take it viral with social media connectivity. You can also offer rewards to your contributors, though unlike Kickstarter, rewards are not mandatory.
The differences with Kickstarter, however, probably merit more attention than the similarities. GoFundMe does not charge a platform fee. For small-time campaigns especially, this lack of a 5% platform fee can make a big difference. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll still be paying 2.9% + $0.30 per pledge in payment processing fees.
One unfortunate aspect of GoFundMe is that you have to connect your campaign to your Facebook page for your campaign to be publicly listed on GoFundMe’s site. As it’s tough for a campaign to gain traction if it doesn’t appear in the directory, GoFundMe essentially forces you to use Facebook if you want your campaign to be successful. I steer clear of Facebook myself, so I have to give a big jeer to this policy.
- Donation-based crowdfunding for charities, nonprofits, and businesses
- Keep-what-you-raise funding
- Best for nonprofits and cause-oriented businesses
Mightycause doesn’t have the kind of name recognition Kickstarter has. Still, since its founding in 2006, the company (formerly known as Razoo) has helped raise $600 million. Not too shabby!
Mightycause hosts crowdfunding campaigns for both business and charitable purposes. Unlike Kickstarter, it doesn’t charge a platform fee to its personal campaigns. Mightycause states that a maximum of 2.2% + $0.29 per pledge will go to the payment processor, though because most donors choose to cover the cost of processing, the average donation has just 0.82% + $0.29 taken from it in processing fees. Also, unlike Kickstarter, Mightycause doesn’t set a time limit on the duration of your funding campaign.
Unusually for a crowdfunding site, Mightycause doesn’t allow you to offer rewards to the people who support you. For that reason, Mightycause wouldn’t be my first choice of a crowdfunding platform for a business project. However, Mightycause is still an option — one that has facilitated many successful crowdfunding campaigns.
One advantage Mightycause offers over Kickstarter is a more comprehensive customer support system. Mightycause provides both phone support and email support. (Kickstarter only provides email support.) Other features unique to Mightycause include a Facebook donation widget and the ability to donate to campaigns using PayPal. Furthermore, when you set up a Mightycause crowdfunding campaign, you can launch it immediately without waiting for approval.
- Equity crowdfunding for accredited investors
- Keep-what-you-raise funding
- Best for early-to-mid-stage startups with exponential growth potential
Compared to Kickstarter and the other crowdfunding sites I’ve discussed, Crowdfunder is a different breed. Crowdfunder is strictly an equity crowdfunding platform. In other words, instead of offering people rewards in exchange for their financial backing, you offer equity — an ownership stake in the company. Equity crowdfunding is more complex than rewards crowdfunding, as investing is much more heavily regulated than Kickstarter-style crowdfunding. Check out my article on equity crowdfunding to learn more.
Crowdfunder’s brand of crowdfunding is for a specific slice of the market. In its own words:
Crowdfunder is designed for early-stage startups and more mature businesses raising seed stage, Series-A & Series-B funding. Our offering does not cater to inception stage companies at this time.
Crowdfunder lists the following stats concerning the company on its About page:
- $160,000,000 investment commitments on the platform
- 12,000 individual and institutional investors
- 36,000 companies
- Funded 100+ deals at an average deal size of $1.8M
Crowdfunder doesn’t take a cut of what you raise. Instead, it charges you a monthly fee for the use of its platform. The platform has two subscription packages available — the cheapest of which costs $299 a month. Compare this with Fundable’s $179/month, and it becomes apparent that Crowdfunder isn’t concerned about barriers to entry.
On the other hand, Crowdfunder lets you keep whatever funds you raise regardless of whether you hit your funding goal or not.
8. Kiva U.S.
- Debt crowdfunding
- Interest-free loans
- Best for startups and small businesses seeking $10K or less
Kiva U.S. is a crowdfunding service that fundamentally differs from both Kickstarter-esque rewards crowdfunding sites and equity crowdfunding sites. Kiva U.S. is a debt crowdfunding site, which means you solicit a loan from a crowd of lenders. What makes Kiva U.S. distinct from other “crowdlending” sites, however, is the fact that Kiva’s loans are interest-free. Though you’ll still have to pay back the loan, it’s just about the closest thing to free money as you’re ever likely to encounter in the business world. Kiva’s goal is to extend lending to businesses that would otherwise struggle to qualify for traditional loans.
Crowdfunded loans from Kiva may be interest-free, but you’ll have to endure a waiting period of up to two months before you see any funds. The application process for a Kiva loan is as follows:
- Fill out an application online
- Enter the approval stage
- Enter a 15-day private funding period
- Enter a 30-day public funding period
- Get funds within five to seven days
Companies using Kiva U.S. can raise as little as $25 and as much as $10,000. However, the maximum amount you can borrow will depend on the age of your business, among other factors. If you need to raise more than $10,000, Kiva U.S. isn’t for you. Your term length can be anywhere from six to 36 months.
For the patient entrepreneur who needs a bit of cash to get his or her business up and running, there are few better options than Kiva’s interest-free crowdfunded loans.
- Nonprofit microlender
- Provides loans and financial education
- Best for startups and small businesses who can’t get loans elsewhere
Accion, like Kiva U.S., is a nonprofit microlender devoted to helping businesses get funding with relaxed borrower qualifications and credit score requirements. Unlike Kiva, Accion’s loans aren’t interest-free, but you can raise a lot more money than with Kiva (up to $50K), and the terms and fees are very competitive considering that Accion lends to the sort of businesses banks look down their noses at.
While Accion is similar to Kiva in some respects, it’s not actually a crowdfunding site. It’s more like a traditional lender. You won’t need to set up a campaign and solicit funds from interested backers. Nonetheless, I felt it was worthy of inclusion here because it’s such a helpful resource for the sort of companies and entrepreneurs who would struggle to get a loan from a for-profit lender.
Accion offers installment loans for a variety of purposes:
- Startup loans
- Business loans
- SBA community advantage loans
- Daycare business loans
- Food and beverage industry loans
- Commercial real estate loans
- Nonprofit loans
- Holiday loans
- Lines of credit
- Loans to build credit
Accion’s loan qualifications vary depending on the US state you reside in. An Accion loan can have a term length from between six and 60 months, and interest rates range between 8% and 22%. Accion also requires the following of its applicants:
- You aren’t more than 30 days late on any bills
- You have not made late rent or mortgage payments in the previous 12 months
- You have not declared bankruptcy in the previous 12 months
- You have not gone through foreclosure in the previous 24 months
- You will not have any mortgage rate adjustments due during the loan term
Kickstarter gets a lot of media attention for the innovative, wacky, and sometimes downright bizarre crowdfunding campaigns it has spawned. However, as we’ve established, Kickstarter is more exclusive than many of its competitors. Simply put, it’s not for everybody.
Fortunately, you have many options when looking for a crowdfunding platform. The nine crowdfunders I’ve listed are all solid alternatives if you’re building a business that could potentially inspire people to willingly part with their money, whether through tangible rewards or with a compelling case.
Crowdfunding may be an imperfect solution to the lack of capital available to would-be entrepreneurs. Still, the essential fact remains: The Crowd has money and can be convinced to part with it.
People want to feel as though they’re a part of something new, extraordinary, and significant. Crowdfunding is one of the dwindling means by which folks can derive meaning by being a part of something larger.
Give them that opportunity. Give the lonely masses the chance to experience how it feels to help steer the course of history.
Be the next RompHim.