Indiegogo Review

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Phone Number
866-641-4646
Date Established
2008
Location
San Francisco, CA

Pros

  • Crowdfunding for both creative & charitable projects
  • Both rewards & equity crowdfunding available
  • Can choose all-or-nothing or keep-it-all funding
  • No platform fee for charitable campaigns
  • Good customer support
  • Does not pre-screen campaigns like Kickstarter does

Cons

  • Limited communication bet. campaigns & backers
  • Backers don’t always get promised rewards
  • Indiegogo gets less site traffic than Kickstarter

Overview

If there’s one characteristic that defines Indiegogo, it is flexibility. Launched in 2008 at the Sundance Film Festival as a crowdfunding platform for independent films — hence the name — Indiegogo has since broadened its reach and is now one of the leading crowdfunding platforms for both creative projects and charitable causes. In addition to offering “traditional” crowdfunding, Indiegogo also offers equity crowdfunding through a partnership with MicroVentures called First Democracy VC.

Indiegogo’s flexibility gives the whole enterprise a bit more of a “wild west” cast than such platforms as Kickstarter (see our review). Indiegogo is available to creators and backers from just about every nation on Earth. Another unique feature of Indiegogo is that upon launching a funding campaign, you have the option of setting up either an all-or-nothing campaign (where your fundraising goal must be met before any funds are transferred) or a flexible campaign where you keep whatever funds you raise. Furthermore, while you can offer rewards (referred to by Indiegogo as “perks”) to your backers, you aren’t required to do so. Combine that with a comparatively broad array of project categories that qualify for Indiegogo approval, and you’ve got a crowdfunding platform with wide reach and appeal. Of course, the flip side of this flexibility is that shadier campaigns have a better chance of slipping through the cracks on Indiegogo than they would on more restrictive crowdfunding platforms.

Read on to get a full picture of Indiegogo.

Services Offered

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform in which users can raise funds from individual backers for both personal and creative projects, as well as launch equity crowdfunding ventures for their business projects. When launching a non-charitable fundraising campaign, they can choose from between the following categories:

  • Tech & Innovation
    • Audio
    • Camera Gear
    • Energy & Green Tech
    • Fashion & Wearables
    • Food & Beverages
    • Health & Fitness
    • Home
    • Phones & Accessories
    • Productivity
    • Transportation
    • Travel & Outdoors
    • Other Innovative Products
  • Creative Works
    • Art
    • Comics
    • Dance & Theater
    • Film
    • Music
    • Photography
    • Podcasts, Blogs & Vlogs
    • Tabletop Games
    • Video Games
    • Web Series & TV Shows
    • Writing & Publishing
    • Other Creations
  • Community Projects
    • Animal Rights
    • Culture
    • Education
    • Environment
    • Human Rights
    • Local Businesses
    • Spirituality
    • Wellness
    • Other Community Projects

When launching a fundraising campaign for personal or charitable purposes, you are directed to Indiegogo’s spinoff project, Generosity. Indiegogo’s Generosity platform waives the 5% platform fees of the main site. A Generosity fundraising campaign can be launched in the following categories:

  • Animals
  • Celebrations
  • Community
  • Education
  • Emergencies
  • Faith
  • Medical
  • Memorials
  • Sports
  • Volunteer
  • Other

Finally, with Indiegogo’s First Democracy VC, your backers are actual investors purchasing a stake in your venture. You can raise up to $1,000,000, but unlike with Indiegogo’s other funding options, only companies incorporated in the U.S. can use First Democracy VC. And though you will be cutting your investors in on the action, you get to maintain company control. First Democracy VC defines its “main areas of investment” as the following:

  • Internet Technology
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Software
  • Green Technology
  • Mobile
  • Social
  • Gaming

Project Qualifications

Indiegogo doesn’t really have a set list of qualifications a project must meet to be eligible to use the platform. You do have to either be 18+ or between the ages of 13 and 17 with an 18+ guardian responsible for following the terms of use. Beyond that, you can’t raise money for a project that is illegal, harmful to others, or a scam. You also can’t offer prohibited perks, such as alcohol/drug paraphernalia, weapons, or any form of financial investment (this obviously doesn’t apply to equity crowdfunding campaigns). Pretty basic stuff. Indiegogo’s qualifications are intended to be non-exclusionary.

Terms and Fees

These are the terms and fees for Indiegogo’s crowdfunding campaigns:

Funding duration:Up to 60 days
Indiegogo fee for creative projects:5%
Indiegogo fee for charitable campaigns:0%
Payment processing fee:3% + $0.30 per pledge for credit card transactions
3%-5% per pledge for PayPal transactions

Indiegogo uses Stripe as its credit card payment processor and also accepts PayPal transactions. Keep in mind that if you’ve launched a Fixed crowdfunding campaign that doesn’t meet its fundraising goals, all contributions are refunded and therefore no fees are taken.

You’ll also notice that when you launch a charitable fundraising campaign through Indiegogo’s Generosity brand, Indiegogo waives the 5% fee on funds raised, thus making Indiegogo an excellent option for, say, crowdfunding to help pay for somebody’s medical expenses. Not sure it speaks well of our society that such campaigns are ever necessary, but it certainly speaks well of Indiegogo that they help facilitate such campaigns by waiving the fees.

With Indiegogo, you have the option of offering perks to your contributors, but you’re not required to do so. Indiegogo recommends that you do offer perks, though, as it increases the likelihood of you meeting your funding goals. They estimate that campaigns offering perks raise 143% more money than those that don’t. You can offer up to 20 levels of perks to your contributors based on the amount they contribute to your campaign.

Application Process

As I said, Indiegogo places a greater emphasis on flexibility than other platforms — like Kickstarter — do. When you fill out the application and apply to start your campaign, approval is automatic — you won’t have to wait to be approved. In fact, there are cases of crowdfunding projects that were suspended from Kickstarter and which subsequently took their campaigns to Indiegogo, where their campaign was allowed to run to completion.

Note that this does not apply to Indiegogo’s equity crowdfunding campaigns — when actual investing is involved, the rules are necessarily more stringent.

Sales and Advertising Transparency

Crowdfunding platforms typically aren’t heavy on the sales-y deceptive crap, and Indiegogo is no exception. Everything is spelled out quite reasonably and there are no nasty surprises for project creators. For backers, it’s a different story, but that’s part of having a flexible crowdfunding platform.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Indiegogo’s customer service is well-regarded by crowdfunding standards. There’s an extensive help section, and if your question isn’t answered in the information given, there’s a contact form you can use to get in touch with Indiegogo. Surveying the opinion landscape, Indiegogo’s responsiveness to user concerns seems to be above average for the industry.

Negative Reviews and Complaints

Indiegogo is, by design, a loosely-regulated crowdfunding arena, intended to give the widest possible range of creative and charitable causes the ability to attract funding from a community of backers. However, this entails a great deal of caveat emptor for backers. Indiegogo currently earns a 3.9 out of 10 average user rating on Trustpilot, and most of the complaints come from miffed backers. People find themselves backing lots of projects that never come to fruition, that do not distribute the promised perks, or that distribute defective/deficient perks. Users also fault the limited communication Indiegogo facilitates between campaigners and backers.

If you’re backing a project on Indiegogo, you have to go into it with a certain mindset. You’re not necessarily making a purchase or an investment, but rather are contributing to a project or cause you’d like to see succeed, with no guarantee that you’ll see anything in return. A more controlled crowdfunding platform might provide better value to the backer, but it could also cut against Indiegogo’s ethos of providing the broadest possible opportunity to the widest range of campaigners.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials

Professional reviewers are largely positive about Indiegogo, praising the ease with which one can set up a crowdfunding campaign and the wide variety of projects and causes that qualify for funding. The fact that you can set up a campaign as either fixed (all-or-nothing) or flexible (keep-whatever-you-raise) also comes in for plaudits.

Users have found plenty to applaud about Indiegogo as well, citing good customer service, a good interface, and the option to use flexible funding. Others noted that they were able to use Indiegogo after their projects were rejected by Kickstarter.

Final Verdict

Indiegogo may not be the elite of the incipient crowdfunding industry, but it makes a strong play for being the crowdfunder for the rest of us, so to speak. Certain kinds of expertly-conceived projects may be better off going with another crowdfunding platform, but for projects and causes that might have a hard time qualifying for funding on other sites, Indiegogo is a solid choice. It provides the opportunity to solicit funding from the widest possible range of folks from all over the globe. Given that the raison d’etre of crowdfunding sites is supposed to be their democratizing ability to funnel money to people and causes shut out of traditional funding means, it’s hard not to admire Indiegogo.

Backers may be taking a risk by sinking their hard-earned cash into an Indiegogo campaign, but risk is inherent in Indiegogo’s open-armed approach. Despite its flaws, Indiegogo is a credit to the spirit of crowdfunding.

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.
Jason Vissers

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