When looking to start any kind of crowdfunding campaign you will pretty quickly come across the names Indiegogo and Kickstarter. These are the two main platforms in the crowdfunding business, though there are numerous smaller and niche platforms as well. For the most part if you want your campaign to be seen by a lot of people in a short period of time, you'll be on one of these sites. This quick guide will walk you through the main similarities and differences to help you decide on Indiegogo vs. Kickstarter.

What are Indiegogo & Kickstarter for?

Indiegogo and Kickstarter are both online platforms where people can make donations to some kind of campaign or project. Examples of projects include documentaries, charity initiatives, and many other endeavors; in some cases the individuals who donate money will get some kind of tangible benefit, prototype or product that the project is working to develop. The usefulness of these campaigns is that many small donations can result in significant fundraising goals being met, with examples stretching into the millions of dollars. Both platforms require you to set a time frame for your campaign ranging from 30 to 60 days.

Both platforms come with fees, a % of the total funds raised as well as fees for transactions like credit card processing or wire transferring the funds at the end of the project.

What Are the Key Differences Between the Two?

While both platforms deliver the same service there are some small and very important differences in how they operate.
  • All or Nothing: Kickstarter requires you to meet your full funding objective in order for funds to be released. If you don't achieve your goal you get nothing. With Indiegogo you can still receive partial funding if you don't manage to get to your full goal. Some believe this works in Kickstarters favor as people are more confident giving money as they don't have to worry about the project not getting all the way and not being able to deliver on its promises.
  • Timing of Transactions: In a Kickstarter campaign the individuals who donate money aren't billed until the project closes, which can actually cause problems. If some of the donations don't clear and you are now below your target goal you will end up getting nothing. Indiegogo processes transactions immediately so 'phantom' transactions aren't an issue when you get to the end of your campaign.
  • US Focus: Kickstarter is U.S. oriented and it can be difficult to get a project listed on the site if you're outside of the country. Often you'll be required to get U.S. based representation for your project if you're not in the U.S. yourself.
  • Scope: When it comes to the types of projects allowed Kickstarter is more limited in scope, with a focus on creative projects that have a specific deliverable. Indiegogo on the other hand allows a far broader range of projects on the site including small businesses looking for help getting started.
  • Review of Projects: The tight scope limits of Kickstarter are also actively enforced through a review of projects that are posted on the website. This is beneficial to legitimate campaigns and projects as it means users of the site don't have to wade through garbage campaigns and jokes to see the good ones. This has become a growing problem with Indiegogo, where lax review processes result in a significant quantity of scam and joke campaigns and projects. A recent review by the author of this article saw an Indiegogo campaign by a man seeking to document his 'awesomeness' and promising users bags of gummy bears if they gave him $100 each. These kinds of campaigns undermine serious and legitimate ones, and lead some to avoid the platform.
  • Size: Kickstarter is far larger than Indiegogo in terms of absolute number of viewers. Their estimated 5.5 million monthly viewers significantly exceeds the 1 million Indiegogo manages and means any campaign will get far more potential viewers.

So Which Should I Use?

If you meet the requirements to set up a Kickstarter campaign (U.S. based and within their project scope requirements) you want to go that direction. Nearly 6 times the number of viewers means the chances of funding your project are significantly higher as long as you're confident you can reach your goal (don't forget it's all or nothing). If you don't meet the requirements for Kickstarter or you're unsure of your ability to hit your funding goal, Indiegogo is still a great platform that has launched many successful campaigns.