Right now, it’s easier than ever to leverage technology to fund your dream project. According to data from crowdfunding site Kickstarter, since launching in 2009, the platform has hosted more than 70,000 successfully funded projects—products, films, etc.— with more than a billion dollars pledged by over seven million separate donors. That means a huge pool of potential investors; of course it also means a ton of competition fighting for their attention. But Kickstarter is just one of many online platforms, some of which may actually be better suited to your specific project. Just know this: Crowdfunding takes massive work, and fewer than half of all projects reach their fundraising goals. But with the help of a few best practices and a handful of tips, setting yourself up for success is simple.
PICK THE RIGHT PLATFORM
Don’t simply decide to use Kickstarter “just because.” For bigger projects, the all-or-nothing format (literally—if you fail to reach your goal, you get nothing) is ideal, but other platforms may be better suited to certain campaigns. Here, a few to consider.
BEST FOR TCHOTCHKES: INDIEGOGO
Unlike Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing approach, Indiegogo offers flexible funding, where the site takes a higher percentage fee in exchange for letting you keep all the funds you raise if you don’t hit your goal. The average goal reached on Indiegogo is $3,700, site data says, so it’s ideal for launching smaller products like the Quickey Multi-Tool, a handy key that acts as a bottle opener, screwdriver, and rope saw—which raised $200K for a $4K goal.
BEST F0R MEDICAL BILLS: GOFUNDME
For personal fundraising goals—things like charities, funerals, and trips—GoFundMe offers a more targeted platform for causes that may not be allowed on other crowd- funding sites. The most successful GoFundMe projects are charity-based, like a campaign to raise money for Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman, which raised more than $800,000.
BEST FOR BACHELOR PARTIES: TILT
A “micro-crowdfunding” startup, Tilt is the most mobile-friendly option. You set a minimum goal, then your pals and colleagues pledge money; when the group hits the goal, or “tilts,” they’re charged. Easily connect with your friends, family, and workmates to get the ball rolling—it’s the Facebook of crowdfunding sites.
BEST FOR YOUR YOUTUBE SHOW: PATREON
Artists, bloggers, musicians, videographers, and other independent content creators looking to secure long-term funding for projects should check out Patreon, which connects you with “patrons” willing to give money to individuals either on a recurring basis or per piece. As of October 2014, more than 125,000 people have become patrons to artists on Patreon.