Kickstarter VS Indiegogo
The age of crowdfunding is upon us. From small-time inventors to famous actors to angry conspiracy theorists, everybody seems to be leveraging the internet to raise funds from the crowd. This makes perfect sense, given the wider context. At a time when the world’s disorienting currents have left us anxiously grasping for even the barest semblance of control, what better way to raise money than to enlist our tired, bedraggled souls in projects that make us feel as though we’re in on the construction of something unique and special?
Kickstarter and Indiegogo have emerged from the primordial crowdfunder soup of the late oughts as two of the most popular and recognizable crowdfunding platforms. Their target audiences don’t entirely overlap, so it would be difficult to name a winner and a loser when comparing the two, but we can lay out the facts and let you judge which one of these funding vehicles makes sense for your particular needs. If you have a cool product idea you want to take to market or a small business you want to expand, crowdfunding holds a lot of promise for you, provided you choose the right platform.
Crowdfunding gives creators, business owners, and activists the ability to tap into the public’s collective thirst for meaning and funnel these unrequited desires into projects that elicit a sense of vicarious accomplishment. Crowdfunding also gives us male rompers. So, be the hero we all deserve. Launch a crowdfunded project. But first, read on to see how the platforms of Kickstarter and Indiegogo compare with each other.
Table of Contents
Kickstarter and Indiegogo have a lot in common but also differ in key respects. Each provides a platform for users to solicit and raise funds from individual backers. But Kickstarter is solely for the funding of creative projects, while Indiegogo’s platform is open to a wider variety of business, creative, and cause-oriented ventures.
Both services involve giving rewards, or perks, to backers who chip in to support a project. With Kickstarter, creators are required to give rewards to backers, while Indiegogo makes it voluntary (though they recommend it).
Another factor to consider is the amount of traffic these two services get. Run Kickstarter and Indiegogo through Alexa and you’ll see that Kickstarter gets more traffic than Indiegogo, which plays a role in how much support you’re likely to attract.
Kickstarter lays out five clear rules for projects to qualify for crowdfunding:
- Projects must create something to share with others
- Projects must be honest and clearly presented
- Projects can’t fundraise for charity
- Projects can’t offer equity
- Projects can’t involve prohibited items
Indiegogo’s rules, by design, are more flexible. Your project can’t be illegal, harmful, or deceptive. You can’t offer prohibited rewards, either. However, Indiegogo does not require you to create something to share with others. It merely permits you to do so.
At one point, Kickstarter and Indiegogo were differentiated by the fact that one could launch an Indiegogo project from almost anywhere in the world, while Kickstarter was only available to campaigners in certain countries. This was due to the fact that Indiegogo campaigns could accept PayPal payments while Kickstarter campaigns could not. However, you can no longer accept PayPal pledges with Indiegogo.
Now that both Kickstarter and Indiegogo use Stripe as their sole payment processing option, the two companies’ lists of supported countries are largely the same. Both platforms allow crowdfunding campaigns from the US, UK, Canada, Austraila, most of western Europe, Singapore, and Hong Kong. The differences are thus: Only Kickstarter allows campaigns from New Zealand, Mexico, and Japan, while only Indiegogo allows campaigns from China (provided the campaigner has a business entity and bank account in Hong Kong and runs a Hong Kong Dollar-based campaign), Finland, and Portugal.
Neither platform places any formal restrictions on where a pledge of support can come from.
Terms & Fees
These are the terms and fees for using the respective platforms of Kickstarter and Indiegogo:
|Funding duration:||Up to 60 days||Up to 60 days|
|Payment processing fee:||3% + $0.20 per pledge||2.9% + $0.30 per pledge|
|Payment processing fee for pledges under $10:||5% + $0.05 per pledge||Same as above|
The differences here aren’t huge, but let’s examine them. Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo set their maximum funding duration at 60 days (though Kickstarter, citing internal data, recommends a funding period of 30 days or less for the best chance of success). Remember, though, that with Kickstarter, funding is fixed, meaning you meet your crowdfunding goal or you get nothing.
With Indiegogo, you can choose fixed funding or flexible funding (where you keep whatever you raise), putting the funding period limitation in a slightly less imposing context.
Note that the fees listed here are for US Dollar-based campaigns. For campaigns collecting funds in other currencies, the fees may vary. What’s more, as per Stripe’s policies, additional fees may be taken from contributions coming from outside the campaign owner’s country.
The Campaign Process
Kickstarter styles itself as a discerning crowdfunding platform with a more rigorous quality control protocol than other crowdfunders (so as to better ensure that backers of projects get the benefits they are promised). Indiegogo, on the other hand, is committed to a more relaxed platform on which people have an easier time establishing fundraising campaigns, ensuring the broadest possible access to crowdfunding. These differing philosophies are in evidence when comparing the application processes of the two platforms.
With both Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you fill out an online application about yourself and the details of your crowdfunding campaign. The difference comes in the approval process. With Kickstarter, a certain number of projects are approved automatically, but many campaigns, based on the details given in the application, are flagged for further review by the company, which can take up to three days. Kickstarter estimates that 80% of the projects submitted for approval on Kickstarter are approved. Given the volume of applications, however, a 20% rejection rate is not insignificant.
By contrast, a project submitted for approval to Indiegogo is automatically accepted – there’s no wait time involved. Projects are only disqualified from Indiegogo if a subsequent audit deems that they’ve run afoul of the rules. However, as I said, Indiegogo’s rules are less strict than those of Kickstarter, and in fact, there are many cases of projects launching on Indiegogo after having been rejected by Kickstarter. It can be argued that Indiegogo’s ethos is more in keeping with the inclusive, small-d democratic spirit of crowdfunding, while Kickstarter’s model is better at keeping flim-flam artists and other bad-faith campaigns off the platform.
Essentially, Kickstarter’s model offers more protections to the backer, while Indiegogo’s model is more lenient for campaigners.
There’s another difference in the campaign process I should mention. When you launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, you have the option of opting-in to InDemand, which is a feature that lets you continue to raise money after your initial campaign reaches its funding goal. InDemand lets you keep raising funds indefinitely without setting any specific funding goal. In fact, your crowdfunding campaign doesn’t need to have been with Indiegogo in order to use InDemand. You can run a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding platform, and if you reach your funding goal, you can move your campaign to InDemand to continue raising money.
Kickstarter does not have any equivalent to InDemnad.
For more information on starting a crowdfunding campaign, check out these links:
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Neither Kickstarter nor Indiegogo are known for deceptive sales practices. Both lay out their terms and practices in a rather straightforward manner. In particular, Kickstarter only earns fees from successful fundraising campaigns, so they have no incentive to try to entice marginal campaigns to their platform. The same is true for fixed funding campaigns on Indiegogo, but Indiegogo campaigns aren’t required to have fixed funding.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Both Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer extensive FAQs and an email ticket system for responding to user issues. Neither provides a phone number for general concerns. Though the level of support offered appears almost identical on the surface, a dive into customer reviews of the two platforms indicates that Indiegogo offers a more responsive customer service experience than does Kickstarter.
Reviews, Criticisms & Complaints
Given the inherently risky nature of crowdfunding, it is perhaps understandable that both platforms receive a great deal of criticism from users. Direct comparisons are difficult here, but there’s one way we can quantify public assessment of these dueling crowdfunders: Kickstarter currently receives an average user rating of 0.5 out of 10 on Trustpilot, while Indiegogo gets a 0.8 out of 10. Basically, Kickstarter and Indiegogo both get a lot of stick for featuring campaigns that don’t deliver the goods, as well as inadequate support for backers in general — though Indiegogo seems to draw particular ire for poor backer support. Kickstarter gets a few more complaints than does Indiegogo about poor support for creators.
This isn’t to say these services are loathed by everybody – many users, both campaigners and backers, report positive experiences with both companies. Professional reviewers are largely positive towards both companies as well. Kickstarter has been praised for being more discerning regarding who is allowed on the platform, providing more reassurance for backers. On the flip side, Indiegogo is appreciated for being open to a wider variety of projects and causes than the competition.
Kickstarter VS Indiegogo: Which Is Better?
So, who would win in a crowdfunding fight between Kickstarter and Indiegogo? I can’t really declare a winner with any authority. It depends on the sort of project you’ve got going. If yours is a creative project with detailed plans and you have the ability to provide extensive rewards, you’re probably better off going with Kickstarter. If your project is a little less meticulously-conceived, you’re more likely to be approved by Indiegogo than Kickstarter. And if your campaign is not dedicated to producing creative goods, Indiegogo is the way to go.
Keep in mind the communities each platform caters to as well. The tech community is better established on Kickstarter, as is the board game community (Kickstarter is the epicenter of the new golden era in tabletop games). Indiegogo is a more welcoming home for charities and NGOs, and is more willing to host politically controversial campaigns. Additionally, Indiegogo’s audience skews more female than most competitors.
Whichever way you go, we can all be grateful that there now exists a way to raise money without going hat-in-hand to a bank. The internet has demonstrated its power to pit people against each other, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the potential it holds in bringing people together to build things and help people. Remember: no risk, no reward!
Let’s conclude with a final summary of what these two platforms are best suited for.
Choose Kickstarter If…
- Your plans are well-developed and you can provide extensive rewards to backers
- You are very confident in your ability to meet your funding goal in 60 days or less
- You are creating a tabletop game
Choose Indiegogo If…
- You’re raising money for a business project that does not involve “creating something to share with others”
- You’re raising money for a cause
- You want to launch a crowdfunding campaign in which you can keep whatever you raise, whether or not you reach your funding goal