Kickstarter VS Indiegogo

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It is fair to say that the age of crowdfunding is upon us. Social media has burrowed into our brains and laid its glistening eggs, and it’s never been easier for individuals and small groups to attract attention. 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 (see our review) and Indiegogo (see our review) have emerged from the primordial crowdfunder soup of the late oughts as two of the most popular and recognizable crowdfunding platforms. Their target demographics 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.

Crowdfunding gives creators and activists the ability to tap into our 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, see how the platforms of Kickstarter and Indiegogo compare with each other.

Services Offered

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 ventures, as well as charitable projects. Indiegogo also offers equity crowdfunding services to qualified business endeavors through a partnership with MicroVentures.

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). And while Indiegogo has a limit of 20 reward levels (meaning different tiers of rewards based on how much you contribute), Kickstarter has no set limit on reward levels.

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.

Project Qualifications

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. Other than that, have at it. Note that Indiegogo’s equity crowdfunding has more stringent requirements.

Another point of comparison: One can launch a Kickstarter project from the U.S., along with much of Western Europe, Canada, Mexico, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. With Indiegogo, by contrast, you can launch a project from just about every country on Earth. Neither platform restricts where a pledge of support can come from.

Terms and Fees

These are the terms and fees for using the respective platforms of Kickstarter and Indiegogo:

Funding duration:Up to 60 daysUp to 60 days
Platform fee:5%5%
Platform fee for charitable campaigns:N/A0%
Payment processing fee:3% + $0.20 per pledge3% + $0.30 per pledge (credit card)

3%-5% per pledge (PayPal)

Payment processing fee for pledges under $10:5% + $0.05 per pledgeSame 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. You’ll also notice that Indiegogo waives the 5% platform fee for charitable campaigns. Very cool. And unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo accepts PayPal contributions.

Application 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.

Note that Indiegogo’s equity crowdfunding campaigns (a joint venture with MicroVentures called First Democracy VC) are different in that one must get specific approval for such a campaign. When actual investment is occurring, the laws, and therefore the company rules, are much stricter.

Sales and 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 and 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 and 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 3.3 out of 10 on Trustpilot, while Indiegogo gets a 3.4 out of 10. Pretty inconclusive, though keep in mind that these ratings change daily based on new reviews that come in. 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.

Final Verdict

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 charitable in nature and/or is not dedicated to producing creative goods, then 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 much more willing to host politically controversial campaigns. Additionally, Indiegogo’s audience skews more female than most competitors. Don’t forget that Indiegogo is the only one of the two offering equity crowdfunding as well.

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!

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers is a writer, cereal chef and Netflix aficionado from San Diego. A native Californian who enjoys the beach, Jason nonetheless prefers to do his surfing on the World Wide Web, the raddest wave of them all. Jason can't eat raisins.
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