Choosing a Crowdfunding Platform?

Over the last few weeks I’ve been preparing to attempt another crowdfunding project for Project Swapfig, this time specifically to hire a web designer. Having been disillusioned with my experience of Kickstarter, I decided to look into more helpful and beneficial alternatives. Currently I have an “elevator pitch” on a new site called Jump Start City, which from the outset stated they would do things differently.

However, things have gotten very awkward with deciding where to host the crowdfunding project. As I’ve recently discovered, there are certain game-changing advantages and disadvantages to each of the sites I’ve looked at. I’m nervous about using the “right” platform because it’s my second attempt at crowdfunding for the same purpose, and I know full well it will be impossible to do it again.
Because Project Swapfig is a web site rather than a tangible product, and isn’t being run by a photogenic female or someone from the States, there’s going to be an uphill struggle whichever site I go with.

At the moment I’m divided between three crowdfunding platforms: Jump Start City, PleaseFund.us and – yes – even Kickstarter. All of them have the all-or-nothing model, and they all have virtually the same fees for successful crowdfunding projects. Here’s my thoughts about them at the moment:

Jump Start City

Advantages

  • Relatively few projects on the site compared to the others, as it’s recently been launched.
  • They have an “elevator pitch” stage where project owners have one minute to convince people to let their project go live.
  • Very little effort and information required to make an elevator pitch: just the basics, a description and a one-minute video.
  • They work by building up interest in a crowdfunding project before it launches, thus increasing the chances of successful funding.
  • They have a great feature where people who actively promote crowdfunding projects when they go live will receive “special rewards” if they bring in enough money.
  • They use PayPal, which is said to be convenient for backers.
  • If a project somehow reaches its target in the first 24 hours, the project owner receives the money so they can get started. It’s also possible to continue raising money after the project has ended.

Disadvantages

  • Target amounts and reward values can only be specified in USD ($).
  • lot of points are required before a project can pass the “elevator pitch” stage, even though more active and experienced users, whose votes are worth more points, will eventually alleviate this issue.
  • Evidence of spite voting against elevator pitches, though thankfully it (currently) has no effect on the total number of points.
  • In the best case scenario, a project may take up to five weeks before it can go live.
  • Because the site is in its infancy, there’s no telling at the moment what will happen to failed projects and elevator pitches.

PleaseFund.us

Decided to look into this site after meeting one of the Community Managers, who talked about the site at a small event. I’ve only recently started using it so I don’t have many comments.

Advantages

  • Unlike the other two sites, these guys are UK-based.
  • The big selling point: they’re focused around having a community, with Community Managers who will suggest improvements to, and perhaps even help promote crowdfunding projects.
  • I’ve seen some of their activity on Twitter, and perhaps even Facebook, which shows they are proactive.
  • Support for different currencies, although I think it’s based on the project owner’s location.
  • They also use PayPal.
  • They support and sometimes encourage “lottery” rewards, in which people can buy “tickets” to win a prize.

Disadvantages

  • There seems to be no specific support for added postage costs for rewards to be sent internationally.
  • Not sure if “stretch goals” are supported in any fashion, although obviously more than the target amount can be raised. My question about this (submitted via the contact box) wasn’t directly answered.
  • Due to the nature of some of the rewards I’ll be offering, I’m not sure if backers can specify options for the rewards they’ve pledged for, before or after the fact.
  • No sign of unsuccessful projects anywhere on the site, and (as usual) already popular projects tend to be readily featured.

Kickstarter

Advantages

  • Only after using the other two sites did I appreciate how easy it was to enter information about the project. For the most part their interface is solid.
  • Kickstarter is one of the big two crowdfunding sites (the other being IndieGoGo), and probably the most well-known and accepted.
  • Most people who back crowdfunding projects will likely have a Kickstarter account already, and it won’t be too hard for newbies to sign up.
  • Plenty of advice on the Internet about how to use Kickstarter (unfortunately a lot of American ego has to be filtered out), as well as third-party tools and sites to present and manage data.
  • They provide useful data about where backers came from, how much they pledged and what the most popular reward levels were.
  • Something like BackerKit can be used with Kickstarter to manage rewards, international postage costs and even “unlocked” stretch goals and extra items.

Disadvantages

  • They’re US-based, and I suspect there’s still a bias towards projects hosted in the States.
  • You’re on your own from the outset. Apart from the video on how to produce a video, they’ll offer no help whatsoever with creating or promoting your project – unless of course it becomes popular.
  • Kickstarter is known to “bury” unsuccessful projects, and my main beef is with them burying my project even before it ended (they listed both new and popular projects way before mine), which meant that any altruistic backers wouldn’t have noticed. I could almost hear the gloating when the email arrived saying the project wasn’t successful.
  • There were a couple of problems with entering information about the Kickstarter project last time, mainly to do with the rich text editor and AJAX – but it meant losing a lot of changes and having to retype information.
  • There was a painful wait for the project to be “approved” before it could be launched, which messed up the project’s duration to coincide with Project Swapfig’s launch.

Not really a disadvantage

  • Their payment method is via Amazon, which basically involves using a credit/debit card. Some people claim not to like it, in favour of PayPal – but given that plenty of people have thrown huge amounts of money at other Kickstarter projects, I’m not buying that excuse.

If I’ve gotten anything wrong about these sites, please let me know and I’ll make corrections.

Let me point out that I’m not entirely blaming Kickstarter for the last project not reaching its goal: that ultimately came down to my inexperience and… well I won’t go into the other thing.

I will ultimately make a final decision on which site to go with in the next couple of weeks, but any input would be great.