Other Crowdfunding Sites of Note
Rather than naively throw up another redundant site, we have done our due diligence in researching the existing market. We can confidently say that no other site else works like Snowdrift.coop where each patron’s input is reinforced by everyone else. Still, some others have value for various reasons and functions.
Our background research
The largest of many directories of sites is crowdsourcing.org/directory. If you filter to only donation-style crowdfunding (vs equity or lending — which are basically irrelevant for FLO), they still list over 500 sites. We have reviewed all these (although we can’t promise to keep up with the latest updates), as well as many others they missed.
The comparison and discussion below highlights only the most popular or otherwise distinctive sites relevant or at least tangential to our focus on technological or creative FLO projects. The majority of sites we reviewed were redundant, defunct, or otherwise unremarkable. We also ignore many sites dedicated to specific rivalrous purposes like funding college tuition, medical bills, or concerts. There are also many holistic fundraising services designed to manage the whole fundraising arms of traditional non-profit organizations, and we’re not listing any of those. We’ve also chosen not to include several absurd sites (the nonsense out there includes things like a site to auction off artist’s copyrights and another that funds creative work by having fans watch unrelated ads, among many other stupid and sometimes offensive ideas).
As more sites show up all the time and others die off or change, we make some effort to keep this page updated, but we cannot promise that the info here is up-to-date. The bulk of our research took place in fall 2013, and we have updated only as new items come to our attention.
Issues with most sites
Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Patreon, Flattr, and many others are effective and successful proprietary sites. Most projects on those systems remain proprietary as well. We see these proprietary terms as a shame because when a project comes to the community for funding, the community deserves to receive uncompromised products.
Our reference charts
We have organized sites by the type of their basic funding mechanism. In the charts, “Fee” indicates the percentage taken by the crowdfunding site itself. Transaction charges from payment processors (usually PayPal) are additional to the site fee. If the site fee is all-inclusive, we have marked it as a “flat” fee.
Bolding indicates our recommendations in each category, although, in some cases, the best remains far from ideal. For those tables that don’t mention FLO or non-profit, we believe that all the entries are for-profit and proprietary. Some sites go in the right direction by using Creative Commons licensing yet use or allow the problematic NC non-commercial license, and we have indicated this in some cases in italics.
All-or-nothing campaigns (what most people associate with the term “crowdfunding”) achieve some assurance that each donor is joined by others. A campaign has a strict funding goal to reach by a set deadline. Fees are generally contingent on reaching or exceeding the goal.
Some sites (Zequs and Indiegogo among those listed below) offer “keep-it-all” flexible funding campaigns, often with higher fees. Keep-it-all is basically just traditional donation (see section below).1
|Indiegogo||4%||art, commerce, cause||required|
|Tilt||0% / 2.5%||personal, cause||none|
|Tilt Open||0% / 2.5%||anything||optional||MIT-licensed platform|
|Crowdfunder||5%||art, commerce, cause||required|
|Pozible||5%||art, commerce, cause||required|
|Zequs||0%||art, commerce, cause||required|
|HeadFunder||0%||anything, art, commerce, cause, personal||optional|
|Community Funded||5%||art, commerce, cause||optional|
|Funddy||2% (basic)||art, commerce, cause||optional|
|Experiment||8%||scientific research||Special access perk required|
|Goteo||8%||FLO projects, social justice||optional||✔||AGPL site, projects all NC or fully FLO|
|Catarse||13% flat||creative||required||FLO site (MIT license)|
|Catincan||10% flat||FLO software features||none||Projects only|
|Drupal Fund||7.5%||Drupal projects||Projects only|
|Start Some Good||5%||“positive social change”||required|
|Openfire||unlisted||“long-term social value”||required|
|Seed & Spark||5%||independent film||required|
|Benfeitoria||0%||art, commerce, cause; Brazil||required||CC-BY-SA-NC|
|BitcoinStarter||5% flat||anything Bitcoin-funded||required|
Kickstarter: The best-known threshold site and the one with most of the high-grossing projects that make the news. Focus tends toward projects with final deliverables such as hardware. Some FLO projects have had success on Kickstarter. Featured projects often gain massive exposure.
Indiegogo: The second-best known site, with more flexibility than Kickstarter. Allows keep-it-all flexible campaigns with a higher fee and permits a wider range of projects.
Tilt has no-fee (besides processing charges for credit cards) for collecting money, but 2.5% fee for “fundraising” and emphasizes mostly private / personal campaigns of no more than a few hundred dollars with a 30-day maximum deadline. Unlike Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, et al, Tilt is not a sort of aggregate publicity-focused system. Tilt also runs a fully-FLO service called Tilt Open which includes many features and offers many other options besides threshold campaigns (so it actually fits many of the categories here). The basic hosting for Tilt Open has no fee aside from payment processing, and for a 2.5% fee, they offer some additional services.
Goteo: Crowdfunding for “the commons” with a strong focus on community organizing, ethical principles, and economic democracy. Culture and technology projects are all shareable — either fully FLO or with NC clauses (note that NC means non-FLO). The site itself uses the AGPL. Based in Spain, some of the documentation is only in Spanish or Catalan. Perks are fully optional. Projects have an initial 40-day campaign to reach a “minimum” goal and then an additional 40 days to reach an “optimum” stretch goal. Goteo strives for high ideals, and our only complaints involve the NC issue for projects and their inclusion of Facebook and Google Analytics trackers (which can be blocked, of course) and use of Google Maps instead of Open Street Map and some other minor details.
Snowdrift.coop’s thoughts on threshold campaigns
All threshold sites have weaknesses arising from their arbitrary funding goals and deadlines and their lack of accountability; see our separate detailed discussion of problems with threshold campaigns. Still, when a project needs major capital infusions, threshold campaigns may be the best option. Snowdrift.coop offers the complementary function of long-term sustainable funding. Though not perfect, we endorse Goteo as the overall most ethical FLO-dedicated threshold crowdfunding platform, and Tilt Open is notable for being itself FLO, robust, the most flexible, and the lowest cost.
Bounties involve a price placed on a new feature or bug fix as a reward that may be claimed by the first developer to solve the issue. This mechanism seems common only for software projects. Fees apply only when a bounty is claimed. Bounties can be loosely threshold-like in that several people may add their pledge to a bounty until it reaches a level that makes it worthwhile for someone to claim it.
Bounties can face various problems with coordination and disagreements. What if multiple developers want to claim a bounty? How do we validate an accurate claim? We have compiled a long history of failed bounty sites; so we only include the most recently active here.
|Freedom Sponsors||3% paid by sponsors||open, but encouraged to set one||FLO software||AGPL||sponsors agree on division|
|Bountysource||10% flat||up to 1 year||FLO software||GPL frontend only||sponsors pick 1 developer|
|Bounty Funding||10% flat||open-ended?||FLO software||AGPL||mediated|
|Open Funding||5%||open-ended||FLO software||donor validation|
|Feed Open Source||none||iterative (bi)weekly||FLO software||MIT-style license, but tied to GitHub||negotiated|
|Big Leap||5%||open||social problems||adjudicated|
Freedom Sponsors is a very honorable site that avoids third-party trackers and shows consistency in their dedication to Free/Libre/Open ideals. While not formally non-profit, fees are low and based on hosting and processing costs. Based in Brazil, they offer English, Spanish, and some other international support. Sponsors can divide bounties to settle developer disputes. Issues can be suggested without first placing bounties. They offer integration options for GitHub, JIRA, Bugzilla, and Trac; and can include links to any other external ticket system. The minor downsides include their focus on logging-in through various proprietary sites (although they still offer their own private log-in option also!) and the integration with Paypal that requires a Paypal verified account in order to send or receive funds.
Bountysource offers software bounties as well as a threshold campaign option and a sustaining subscription donation feature. Only the frontend of the site is FLOSS, the backend is proprietary. Bountysource has some corporate backing and connections to various corporate (and often proprietary) companies. Given their successful promotion, they have gained more attention than other bounty sites.
Bounty Funding: A new site focused on direct integration with ticket systems. They use Trac but plan to expand to integrate with other ticket systems like Redmine, GitLab, GitHub, and SourceForge’s Allura. Like Freedom Sponsors (and Snowdrift.coop), Bounty Funding is AGPL. The Bounty Funding design encourages easy self-hosting. The details of the site are not all worked out yet. Note that the Mantis Bug Tracker has already had “sponsorship” like this as a built-in feature for years.
Feed Open Source, a new startup, works between primary development team and the community of users rather than plain bounty. Development plans are built around GitHub tickets. Coming from a traditional client-focused software background, the aim is to apply Agile development concepts (rapid iteration and feedback) where the larger community becomes the client. Supporters will provide funding (in Bitcoins currently) tied to tickets that get marked loosely for each iteration of development. Feed Open Source is overall closer in concept to Snowdrift.coop than many other systems but has no matching and faces many of the same issues as traditional bounty approaches. It is being funded strictly through its own mechanism and not through any fees.
Big Leap: Provides crowdfunded bounties for solving social problems like providing educational games to children. None claimed yet, however.
Snowdrift.coop’s thoughts on bounties
Instead of formal bounties, we are building integrated ticketing on our system so that project teams can see which features patrons want most. Instead of funding tied strictly to specific features, developers have flexibility and autonomy, and yet they remain accountable to patrons who will more likely continue their support when their requests are addressed.
Strict bounties face a whole host of issues from practical struggles to fundamental problems with trying to price everything. A bounty may even sabotage a feature in cases where all the active volunteers happen to not need the money, so they decide to avoid the bountied issue so others may claim it. In a great number of ways, bounties are the wrong direction for FLO. The concept has been around for many years and still never succeeded well.
Aside from the problems with bounties in general, we fully endorse FreedomSponsors.org. They have been around for a while doing a good job with a robust fully FLO site and a friendly welcoming community. If a project wants to do bounties despite the issues, we recommend Freedom Sponsors. Bounty Funding also seems honorable, and while we don’t feel that they add notable value, they are a reasonable option for projects already using supported bug trackers. Although we don’t endorse BountySource, it’s clear that there’s some value in going with whatever has the most popularity (which is, unfortunately, always tied to more capital backing and more aggressive marketing, similar to how Kickstarter and IndieGogo have outdone other threshold sites and Patreon has gained the most attention for subscription sites).
Ransoms involve donations, (pre-)sales, or pledges which must reach an “acceptable” revenue level before a proprietary work is then released under a FLO license. Ransoms mostly ignore the essential FLO issues of freedoms and of open development. We’ve written elsewhere about failed and successful ransoms for FLOSS and the problems inherent in the mechanism.
Threshold campaigns (see above) are a popular option for collecting ransom funds, often through self-hosting or simply by an artist or developer announcing that when they get enough donations, they’ll free their work. The details vary regarding time-frame, ransom amount, and extent of freeing. The following sites focus specifically on ransom campaigns:
|Unglue.It||6% campaign, 25% sales||Books||allows any CC license, including NC and ND|
|Fund I/O||under development||Media, Software||“Open licenses”|
Fund I/O: A proposed but not (yet?) implemented procedure involving an initial pledge drive to set a minimum pre-sale price that will achieve a funding threshold, followed by a decreasing-price sale period that generates refunds for earlier buyers along with profits for developers before potentially (no guarantee) reaching the “open release” threshold. While this carefully addresses a very calculating incentive system, the FLO focus is minimal. It becomes mostly a structured system for open-source-eventually.
Snowdrift.coop’s thoughts on ransoms
Instead of a ransom, use our system to support FLO development from the start. We also plan to offer the ability to list a project and get pledges before actually starting to receive funds; that way, projects may acquire a certain level of support before releasing fully FLO. Unlike ransom, our system allows funds to go through only after the work is already FLO; and funds are monthly patronage for ongoing work rather than all-at-once ransom for past work.
If you want to do a ransom, you don’t need a dedicated ransom site. Simply use a traditional or threshold donation platform for collection and be clear about the terms of the release. Although not offered as a platform, OpenAV Productions offers one ransom-related success story; they just ransom an earlier release of already finished work.
Recurring payments support ongoing projects or for supporting a particular teams who continue to produce new content on a regular basis. In the tech world, subscriptions may also be used for hosting or support services. Subscription sites often emphasize special access for subscribers, thus promoting proprietary restrictions and the separation of users into classes with different access levels. Subscription sites typically lack any matching or threshold or other mutual assurances.
|Snowdrift.coop||0%||FLO shareable works||monthly||none||strictly FLO site and projects||✔|
|Gratipay||0%||any individuals or groups||weekly||none||Public Domain site||*|
|Patreon||5%||arts and media||per-release or monthly||required|
|Google Contributor||?||websites||monthly||ads replaced by thank-you message|
|Ziibra||15%! flat||arts and media||monthly, yearly||required|
|Tugboat||5%||arts and media||monthly, yearly||required|
|TubeStart||5%||YouTube Channels||monthly, per-release (in beta)||required|
Snowdrift.coop focuses on ongoing FLO projects with continual development needs. As a means to solve the issues with collective action, our matching pledge makes everyone’s donations contingent on the amount of support from everyone else. Each patron pledges a monthly share level determined by the number and level of everyone else’s pledges. In essence, we all agree to do our part together — but in a flexible manner rather than hard all-or-nothing. If more people will come help, the rest of us will do that much more! Thus, we combine the mutual-assurance aspects of the threshold model with the sustainable long-term focus of subscription patronage. Although our model is distinct from any other existing mechanisms, we fit best into the subscription category. We also offer tools for coordinating volunteers, feedback about feature requests, and a lot more. The rest of our site describes the details further, of course.
Gratipay (formerly Gittip) defines itself as an “Open Company” — fully transparent and where site developers are paid only by tips through the system. Though incorporated as an LLC, the nature of the site is effectively non-profit and mission-driven, just not in a formal legal sense. Gratipay envisions an ethically-focused gift economy: people do good in the world, others give them gifts, no strings attached. System-wide giving and receiving totals are public, but individual donation amounts are not. Gratipay has no FLO requirements for recipients, but FLO projects have notable presence in the user community, and the site’s own code is public domain. Although recipients are individuals in the end, Gratipay offers a project/group allotment algorithm to enable donors to give to projects as a whole. Each group member sets their desired “take” which must start small but can grow over time. Weekly income to the group is distributed in reverse seniority order. Various features in the works include a set maximum weekly donation automatically split among all the people a user chooses to tip. That concept would make Gratipay work comparably to Flattr (which is described below under “tipping”).
Patreon: Combines subscription with elements of bounty and tipping systems by making payment contingent on release of content. However, they also offer a simple per-month option and an optional per-project maximum monthly cap for per-release projects. The per-release approach naturally creates issues with defining a qualifying release and emphasizes quantity over quality. Although the required perks encourage proprietary restrictions, the perks may include simple acknowledgement or non-rivalrous perks like time with the project team.
Google Contributor is an explicit version of the annoy-you-until-you-pay model we describe at our existing funding mechanisms page. Participating sites all show Google ads normally, and contributors who sponsor the site at $1 to $3 monthly get to see little thank you messages where the ads would have been. Because participation in contributor requires sites to be showing ads otherwise, Google Contributor really encourages the use of advertising, and Google ads specifically. Instead of paying off sites that annoy us, we recommend all internet users run a free adblock plugin to block ads on all websites. Then, use other services (like Snowdrift.coop) to support creative projects including the adblock developers, and favor those projects who do the honorable thing by forgoing ads in the first place.
Contributoria: Writers (primarily journalists) propose items, get voted on by paid members of the system who have points alloted to them. If enough votes support a proposal, then it gets written using collaborative tools that encourage feedback, editing, and high quality. Finished writings are then published and writers get some of the system-wide funding pool from membership fees proportional to their votes in some way. The final published works are licensed CC-BY-NC (which is shareable but causes compatibility problems and other issues, see why NC is not FLO).
Subbable and TubeStart focus specifically YouTube channels. Subbable also offers one-time donations as an option. TubeStart offers threshold and one-time options as well. See Patreon comments above for potential problems with TubeStart’s per-release pledge option.
Tugboat and Ziibra: Basically hosted donation page / storefront. Ziibra’s fees are excessive given their services.
Snowdrift.coop’s thoughts on subscriptions
Of course, in our biased judgment, Snowdrift.coop is the best subscription site for all the many reasons described throughout our writings. As a non-profit cooperative with our focus on FLO projects, we emphasize aligning every decision with the public interest. Beyond only the relationship between each patron and the projects they support, we emphasize the network of relationships between everyone in a project’s community and help patrons coordinate their support to achieve a greater impact. We have a separate page further enumerating the advantages Snowdrift.coop offers over other platforms.
Of the other sites, we acknowledge Gratipay as a FLO site with particularly ethical and honorable ideals, no fee, and a more flexible scope that may fit some cases that we do not cover. Of course, although Gratipay offers some convenience, simple unilateral regular donations are not a new funding model. Gratipay does nothing to address issues like the snowdrift dilemma. Despite its own FLO code, Gratipay relies on proprietary services for their communication (e.g. Google Hangouts), ticketing (GitHub), translation (Transifex), blogging (Medium), and so on. Although work is in progress to offer a built-in log-in, the site login currently requires the use of third-party log-ins with emphasis on the proprietary sites Twitter, GitHub, and Bitbucket (although they now also offer log-in through the FLO project OpenStreetMap). Of course, nearly all the other platforms we reviewed have similar problems or are far worse. We only point out such specific complaints regarding Gratipay because they otherwise rise above the crowd as being especially honorable, well-intentioned, and community-oriented.
Patreon deserves a note as the most robust and strongly marketed in the subscription field with a more traditional business model and venture capital funding. Several FLO projects have used Patreon successfully, but the site and the majority of the projects remain fully proprietary. We don’t recommend them, but we admit that using the most popular and robust site may have advantages.
Donations with no recurring pledge or assurance contract can use a simple “donate” button on their website. They may still define goals and perks and run special promotions. Yet many platforms are available for running special fund-drives even though they work just like any “donate” button given the lack of a real threshold. These crowdfunding sites have value mainly from administration tools and marketing features.
As noted in the “threshold” section, many sites with flexible campaign goals charge higher fees if goals are set but not achieved.
|RocketHub||4% / 8%||art, commerce, cause||required|
|Supportly||7% / 5% non-profit discount||art, commerce, cause||optional|
|Raise5||8%||Non-profit||freelance services for charitable donations|
|Pledgie||3%||art, commerce, cause||none|
|Benevolent||10.75% flat||personal but verified by non-profit||none|
|Go Fund Me||5%||art, commerce, cause||optional|
|Give Loop||5%||art, commerce, cause||none|
|We Did It||5%||Non-Profit||optional|
Supportly: Well-designed collective action site that allows for crowdfunding, petitions, events, in-kind donations, etc.
Pledgie: Requires user-submitted content to be licensed as CC-BY, but the site’s own code and content is still proprietary. Mainly good for low fee and simplicity.
Dana.io comes from a Buddhist inspiration for freedom and generosity. The site supports “microphilanthropy” with the premise that all projects should do good for the community, environment, education, or innovation. They accept donations themselves and take no fee whatever. They don’t appear to be legally non-profit but pledge that 100% of their revenue will go toward improving the site. They seem to actually charge fees but they use past fee/tips to cover new ones, and maybe it’s effectively possible for some campaigns to pay no fee themselves. Unfortunately, at this time, they seem oblivious to FLO issues.
Give Loop: Transparent about ways to reduce transaction costs, such as large lump-sum deposits rather than multiple smaller transactions. Allows donee to split project into line-items for donors to see where funds will go.
Snowdrift.coop’s thoughts on traditional donations
There are many ways to solicit traditional donations. Instead of using a formal platform, you can just work directly with a payment processor and add a donate button to your site. Better yet, encouraging prospective donors to take advantage of the matching funds from the Snowdrift mechanism to make a greater impact. We can still work alongside traditional donation, but our system will work best when all supporters of a project go through us instead.
Subset of donation sites based on “appreciation” or “attention” gifting. Some sites do one-time tips and others are subscription-style. Because they emphasize the “gift” framework for donation, tipping sites help to work against the trend of putting a price on everything. Tipping is generally friendly and open-ended but has no mutual assurance or any other incentives to donors aside from being nice. It’s really nothing more than small traditional donations.
|CentUp||10%||online content, Charities|
|Tip the Web||tips||online content|
|Tip4Commit||5%||programmers||per update||FLO site, FLOSS projects|
|BitHub||tips||programmers||per update||FLO site, FLOSS projects|
|TapRaise||30% flat||online content|
|ChangeTip||1% for deposits or withdrawals||users of social websites|
Flattr: Allocates payments out of a budget based on proportion of “flattrs” (appreciation clicks associated with a creator’s content) granted during the month. Documentation explicitly encourages use of proprietary platforms with Flattr integration and quantity over quality to maximize clicks. On the plus side, Flattr waives fees for select non-profit organizations including the Software Freedom Conservancy.
Tip the Web: Similar to Flattr, but allocated as one-time payments, not from a budget.
CentUp: Splits donation evenly between creator and charity selected by the donor, with half the fee coming out of each share.
NoiseTrade: Allows musicians to post tracks for free download in exchange for emails and ZIP codes from users, and also asks users to tip the artists. The site takes an unusually high 20% of all tips (even though the site also has ad revenue). No FLO focus and no recognition of Creative Commons licenses. Tracks must be in the proprietary MP3 format but are all DRM-free.
Tip4Commit: Very simple FLO system to donate Bitcoins to software developers for every commit they make to FLOSS projects. Currently works only with GitHub. The system is run by the same people as the advertising business (Anonymous Ads) that places non-tracking ads and pays only in Bitcoins. They seem motivated by Bitcoin promotion as much as by supporting FLOSS. Sponsors deposit Bitcoins to an overall per-project pot (as opposed to a per-sponsor account); each commit to a project gets 1% of the pot (so the pot can never run out, but tips diminish proportionally until new deposits come in). This odd system means that tips vary primarily by whether or not a commit occurred just after a deposit. Although this presents a clear quantity-over-quality problem (just splitting each update into several commits will claim more of the funds), new deposits to the pot could be done sooner versus later depending on how the donors feel about the progress overall. The same developers also run Coin Giving which is a simple system for publicly acknowledging and promoting donations in Bitcoin to all types of projects.
BitHub is almost identical to Tip4Commit except with a system-wide pot for tips instead of per-project. To participate, a project registers with BitHub. Overall, BitHub has the same problems as Tip4Commit such as quantity-over-quality and requiring projects to use GitHub, etc.
(Note: Someone else later created another project called BitHub, but that just rewards points and swag for any type of involvement in helping FLO community projects; i.e. that BitHub encourages volunteers but doesn’t do any fundraising).
TapRaise is just a simple one-click tip button, nothing more, and the system is proprietary. Each click gives 70¢ to the button-owner and 30¢ to TapRaise.
ChangeTip does Bitcoin tipping and currently requires users to be registered through centralized web platforms (Reddit being the only FLO option). They charge no fee for tipping, only for funds coming in or out of the system. Unlike many other Bitcoin-focused sites, they show little emphasis on respecting user privacy.
Coinbase offers their own tip button now which makes it easy for anyone to accept Bitcoin tips.
GitCoin is yet another Bitcoin tip system, and it uses Coinbase for processing and offers either public or private tipping. May be more or less irrelevant now that Coinbase offers their own simple tip button.
CoinTipping uses Dogecoins which are more of a joke cryptocurrency. It aims to be as simple as possible so regular folks can get comfortable with cryptocurrencies.
Pling appears to be just a promotional site where FLO projects (their criteria for FLO hasn’t yet been determined that we can tell) get listed along with a plain old donation button. They take no fee.
Snowdrift.coop’s thoughts on tipping
Special tipping sites are largely just traditional donation with minor tweaks.
We started Snowdrift.coop because we saw inadequacies with plain tipping and other unilateral donations. Beyond social encouragement, our matching system actually amplifies the impact of each patron and provides better accountability. All the patrons on Snowdrift.coop serve as an invitation to the outside world to come join us and make a real difference.
Although most tipping sites rarely provide substantial income, they can still work as a symbolic “thank you”. If there is demand for it, we may eventually add our own one-time tip function on top of the basic ongoing pledge (and decisions about things like that will be up to the community given our cooperative governance!).
Other forms of crowdsourcing
The web can help organize many other types of collective action beyond monetary donations. As a cooperative, we try to encourage positive collaboration wherever possible. Listed below are notable sites for other types of crowdsourcing, with our recommendations indicated.
PledgeBank: Collective-action assurance contracts. If enough people pledge to join an action, then everyone will go ahead with it. Basically threshold system but for numbers of people acting together instead of for an amount of money to a project. Operated by a UK nonprofit. Site is itself FLO, licensed with AGPL, and meets most of our ethical standards. Recommended for awareness or political action drives.
Pledge 4 Good: Facilitates pledges for “walk-a-thon” style fundraising where donors pledge a certain amount of money to charity for each milestone met by the fundraiser. Pledge 4 Good is designed to help users achieve meaningful personal action goals, using the pledges as encouragement. Fund recipients are limited to those 501(c)(3) charities that are partnered with the site. Other, less ethical sites of this type include Snoball, which has patents on its mechanism and requires integration with proprietary platforms like Facebook.
Inlu: “Registry” site that promotes socially and ecologically responsible gift-giving, including direct transfer to a trustee or non-profit for all or part of the collected amount.
Kiva Zip: New entrepreneurial crowdlending site from Kiva, a well-known developing-world microfinance organization. Kiva Zip loans are not processed through other institutions like regular Kiva loans but do require a trustee to vouch for the borrower. Helpful when needing startup or expansion capital where a crowdfunding campaign is not ideal and where loans could be helpful.
Sponsor Change: In return for student loan payments, young college graduates provide volunteer labor to 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
FLO Hosting Options
Tilt Open (originally built on an earlier FLOSS platform called SelfStarter) has evolved to become a robust option for self-hosted crowdfunding (see the source on GitHub. Although primarily a threshold system, it can be adapted however one wants. It includes many features such as full admin controls and a subscription option for ongoing donations. The code is available under a permissive FLO license and runs on the Rails framework. As mentioned above in the section on Threshold Campaigns, Tilt Open also offers minimal no-charge hosting or more robust low-fee hosting as a white-label service using Tilt’s payment API.
Additional self-host options include:
- Lighthouse is a Bitcoin-based crowdfunding application that anyone can use to collect many pledges of support that will go through once the total reaches a specified threshold goal.
- Wordpress options: Astoundify is an apparently FLO WordPress plugin (code available on GitHub, license unclear) that runs crowdfunding campaigns; unfortunately, all the various front-end site themes that go along with the plugin are proprietary. There are many other Wordpress plugins that support simple traditional donations.
- Make Your Own Crowdfunding Site is designed as a tutorial for Node.js but is also ready to go as a functional threshold campaign option with BalancedPayments.
- Simple webpage plus basic payment service — for doing traditional fundraising without a hard threshold, one option is to simply explain the goals and levels on a regular web page along with a donation button linked to a payment service. The page can even be manually updated to show progress, thus requiring no fancy platform.
- Adapt any of the fully FLOSS sites from our listings above (Goteo, Catarse, Freedom Sponsors, Bounty Funding, and Gratipay). There are also some defunct sites that have their code available (but unclear about reliability or quality): Spot.us (which is still live but effectively inactive), Beex, Fundry, and Elveos.
Proprietary self-host / whitelabel platforms
We do not recommend these proprietary platforms. The services below are among the main parties responsible for the bloat of redundant crowdfunding sites. While the gold-rush is driven by the prospectors (the projects) and the shovel-sellers (the sites), these are the shovel-makers. This list is here for reference to explain the source of the clutter of cookie-cutter sites out there.
Hybrid Funding Their answer to the question “isn’t this market overcrowded already?” is “many people haven’t heard of crowdfunding yet”. However, existing sites could easily handle the additional traffic. We can’t conclude that more sites is what the market demands, but more sites certainly serves the interests of Hyrbid Funding.
They offer a wide range of modules. Combining all these with hosting, the cost to get a working feature-filled site may add up to $5000 or more, and the license may only last a year. Snowdrift.coop aims to build FLOSS alternatives to their collaboration tools.
- campaign types
- traditional donation
- all-or-nothing threshold
- keep-it-all flexible
- equity investing
- peer-to-peer lending
- fund-a-feature and feature requests
- ransom for private work-area files
- labor-on-demand job postings connected to projects
- crowd knowledge / polling / voting
- collaboration / discussion tools
- blog / forum / newsletter features
- categorization / admin panel etc. etc.
- campaign types
- CrowdFund HQ: some interesting sites use this platform such as WeTheTrees which is dedicated to permaculture and environmental causes.
- Invested.in: fairly robust but generic option that licenses its code in addition to hosting campaigns on its site.
- Katipult: robust and attractive software offers a SaaS option for $1500 monthly or you can get a quote for buying a license to the software.
- Launcht: tries to appeal to institutions, especially universities, but not as robust as other sites. Organized as a Benefit Corp.
- FundraisingScript: has specific proprietary clone modules called “Kickstarter Clone”, “Indiegogo Clone”, “GoFundMe Clone”. Also offers “clone” versions of non-crowdfunding sites like Pinterest or Eventbrite.
- Agriya also has a Kickstarter clone
- CrowdFund Magic yet another whitelabel with a stupid flashy slick homepage
- CauseVox is yet another general fundraising service
- Proprietary WordPress plugins: Ignition Deck, Fundraising
- FundraisingBox: German platform.
- Thrinacia was initially started as a whitelabel GPL project for crowdfunding, failed to get funding, and decided to pursue a proprietary direction using API plugins to interface with other projects.
- Towema: yet another whitelabel expensive service
- BidOkeee is a newer, over-the-top marketing scheme emphasizing “DIY crowdfunding”. They acknowledge the existence of “over 450” platforms already (we’ve seen far more actually), but they seem oblivious to the existing white-label and self-host options. Lots of hype, little reason to take seriously. Annoying emphasis on “freedom” while they fail to actually offer true freedom because they make proprietary SaaS.
Of course, setting a very low primary goal (one you are practically guaranteed to meet) for an all-or-nothing campaign along with a higher stretch goal achieves the same basic effect as a keep-it-all traditional campaign. The only difference is when and whether the campaign is marked as successful.↩