By Caitlin Vadawater
In June 2012, crowdfunding site Indiegogo was thrust into the national spotlight because of the growing—and age old—problem of bullying in the United States. The explosive media focus on both Karen Klein—a Greece, N.Y. bus monitor who was harassed and bullied by a group of middle school boys—and the campaign to raise a vacation fund for the 68-year-old prompted an increased interest in the crowdfunding site.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Indiegogo crowdfunding site launched in 2008 as a way to promote and gain funds for independent movie productions. It now serves as a fundraising platform for charity, musical and art productions, as well as technology and entrepreneurial projects.
Need a Vacation? Get the Crowdfunding you Need with Indiegogo
Until the video of Klein’s ordeal went viral on YouTube and inspired the crowdfunding campaign for a much-needed vacation fund for Klein, Indiegogo remained a hidden gem on the internet. It was, and still is, the go-to site for projects such as Who Gives a Crap, a toilet paper company that, at the completion of their campaign, will use the profits from selling their bath tissue to supply proper sanitation facilities for those without it. Essentially, the idea behind this small business is to sell toilet paper to help build toilets. Talk about going full circle. Indiegogo is the launch pad for people trying to keep dreams alive, or perhaps raise the needed crowd sourced funds to pay for expensive cataract removal surgery for their beloved dog—Oliver’s owners raised $4,930, well above the $1,500 they asked for.
Crowdfunding a Tour, Art Show or Documentary with Kickstarter
Like Indiegogo, the Kickstarter crowdfunding site also launched at the end of the last decade—its website states the official launch date was in April 2009—and serves as a fundraising platform for art and creative projects, as well as a slew of technology projects. Unlike Indiegogo, the crowdfunding projects promoted and launched on Kickstarter have a clear beginning and a clear end. A project has to have a defined outcome, and must fit into a certain set of guidelines laid out by Kickstarter. It cannot directly benefit a charity or individual, but instead needs to ensure that a product, like an art show or independent album, is produced. For example, a person can pitch the idea of opening a restaurant on Indiegogo without a problem, but Kickstarter clearly states on its FAQ page, “A project is not open ended. Starting a business, for example, does not qualify as a project.” Resurrecting a business or enhancing one, does however, like in the case of Sunski Sunglasses—production ceased 25 years ago on these Australian sunglasses, but a design-team duo in California are hoping to bring them back.
Comparing Crowdfunding Sites Indiegogo and Kickstarter
On the surface, Kickstarter seems like the more official and stiffer platform to use. Each crowdfunding project must be approved by the Kickstarter staff and produce a work of some kind—the possibilities range from cookbooks and 3-D printers to documentaries and CDs—and in one way or another, the people who pledge, called backers, must receive a product of some kind, called a backer reward, if the proper funds are raised. Like Kickstarter, people who contribute to a project on Indiegogo earn perks, which become grander and more specialized as the amount of money a contributor pledges increases. Perk and backer rewards range from T-shirts, stickers and coupons to free downloads of songs, initiations to private events and limited edition artwork.
Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo is more open-ended. The crowdfunding projects on Indiegogo range from start-up businesses to campaigns like the vacation fund for Klein—because of this, Indiegogo provides users with more routes to travel while trying to raise money for their dreams. This is not to say that Kickstarter is limiting for its users, it just takes a certain kind of project to be successful on the platform.
The Numbers and Statistics Backing Kickstarter and Indiegogo
As of July 2012, over 64,000 crowdfunding projects have been launched on Kickstarter, raising a total of $291 million. Out of that $291 million, $241 million has funded successful crowdfunding projects, $30 million were unsuccessful, and the remaining $20 million was still live in the Kickstarter system, meaning it had not changed hands from consumer to supplier. Just over 44 percent of crowdfunding projects have succeeded on Kickstarter, and many are helping to alter the way we live and use the world around us. Its “all or nothing” funding policy is what really makes or breaks a project—if a campaign does not receive all or above the minimum funding amount, the campaign is deemed unsuccessful and none of the funds pledged by backers is given to the project’s creators. Products like the iBamboo and Coffee Joulies both got their start on the site, providing simple solutions to sometimes melodramatic problems—finding eco-friendly, but effective iPhone speakers and keeping your morning cup of coffee an ideal temperature without multiple trips to the microwave. Neither product is necessary to live, but it does make little areas of life easier.
Although Indiegogo has not received the same amount of the press garnered by Kickstarter, it is winning parts of the numbers game. According to a July 18 article in the Washington Post, Indiegogo has sponsored over 100,000 crowdfunding projects in 196 countries, including the campaign to buy new printmaking equipment for Nova Scotia based T-shirt company, The Quarrelsome Yeti. With the money raised on Indiegogo, a new printing press and equipment will be purchased, and the product line currently offered by the company will likely expand to new designs and concepts for shirts, posters and various handbags. Unlike Kickstarter, Indiegogo does not turn away any project, and the funding is not limited to “all or nothing,” but rather, gives users the option of “Flexible Funding”—which allows the campaigners of a project to keep the funds earned even if their goal is not reached—or a “Fixed Funding” option, which is similar to Kickstarter’s funding policies.
In the coming months and years, crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are no doubt going to continue expanding, fueling the dreams of artists, creators, businesspeople and entrepreneurs around the country and the world. It gives both creator and contributor a way to show off what they are passionate about, and ultimately shows how, despite hard economic times, people will still stand behind something they believe in, and pledge a few dollars when it doesn’t always seem like everyone has a few dollars to spare.