When you’re looking to make money and raise funds, it helps to remember that all crowdfunding resources are not created equal! While all of them allow you to crowdsource funds, some have posting fees, some take a percentage of your earnings, some charge your donors a donation fee, while others only let you keep the money you earn if you reach the full one-hundred percent of your fundraising goal. So how do you know which is the best fundraising website for you? Well, let’s take a look and examine our list so that you can make an educated choice!
Keep in mind that some of the best crowdsourcing websites are quite specific in terms of allowable projects and causes, while others are much more open in form and format. If you’re hoping to raise enough money to launch your oh-so-amazing taco sauce, the best fundraising websites for you will be quite different than if you’re trying to earn funds to cover the costs of traveling to Singapore to teach English. However, all crowdfunding sites have some elements in common, so we’ll start there to help you decide what’s best for you.
15 of the best fundraising websites
Why? The features of FundMyTravel are super straightforward, and include everything you need to do in order to start your fundraising campaign, spread the word, and get funded! With free set-up, a comprehensive tool-kit to get you started, and a flat fee of 5% from all donations made, there are no hidden fees or surprises. Payment processors might collect their own fees—but FundMyTravel makes it easy to get your meaningful travel project off the ground!
What? This crowdsourcing site is among the very best fundraising websites for individuals who want to raise money for meaningful travel abroad programs, ranging from adventure travel to volunteerism and interning abroad. If your goal is to raise money to experience travel-related opportunities, you don’t want your campaign to get lost in the shuffle with all kinds of other projects and causes. Plus, you get to share your campaign widely (and for free!) with all kinds of other like-minded folks. What could be better than that?
Where to find it? https://www.fundmytravel.com/
Why? Kickstarter just celebrated its tenth year in business, and claims to have helped tens of thousands of creative people find funding for their projects. They now operate as a benefit corporation with a charter to do “good” works. They report that over 16 million people have backed a project, and that over 4.4 billion dollars have been pledged to date. They have an extensive handbook, and while fees from processors vary, the projects are all-or-nothing (meaning you only get the money pledged if you reach one-hundred percent of your goal)—less the 5% fee that they will take off the top.
What? Kickstarter is among the best fundraising websites focused on specific fields: art, comics, crafts, dance, design, fashion, film and video, food, games, journalism, music, photography, publishing, technology, and theater. They have rules for creators focused on their charter as a benefit corporation.
Where to find it? https://www.kickstarter.com/
Why? If you have a product you’re trying to take to market, this is one of the best crowdsourcing websites you can choose to get a high-profile reach. Primarily focused on three categories (tech and innovation, creative works, and community projects), this is a good crowdsourcing option for those in need of some support for their campaign. The fee structure is based on the overall value of the launch (there are no fees pre-launch), and the total amount Indiegogo takes is 5%, while the credit card fee is 2.9% (plus a percentage of the total fund). However, if you started your campaign on a different platform, your fee is 8% plus fees.
What? The focus for this crowdsourcing site is to support entrepreneurs and new technology from the earliest stages of development, from concept to prototype to production to shipment. The backers on these projects are expecting to receive the items they back, but there are no guarantees. The quality team at Indiegogo will get involved if they observe poor business practices on the part of the entrepreneur.
Where to find it? https://www.indiegogo.com/
Why? Patreon is among the best fundraising websites for individuals doing creative work and content production, and is ideally suited for podcasters, video creators, musicians, visual artists, writers / journalists, and creators of all kinds. Patreon takes most of the fees from the donors (taking it off the top of their pledges), but they do have different tiers of membership for creators that offer different levels of support in exchange for increased fee percentages. For example, a basic membership takes 5% of overall funds, while a premium membership will cost you 12%.
What? Funders can pledge any available amount per content element, or per month, and provide the creators with funding based on the volume of content that gets produced. Patreon provides a great way for your social media followers to contribute to your cause (whether personal or professional), or just show appreciation for your talents! Based on that social media focus, Patreon is also one of the most app-friendly, with integrations for everything from BackerKit to Zapier, helping you expand the reach of your campaign.
Where to find it? https://www.patreon.com/
Why? GoFundMe offers free fundraising for people and causes. By free, they mean that there is no platform fee; however, the payment processing companies that work with the platform do charge fees, typically 2.9% plus $0.30 per dollar received. They also advertise having the first and only donor protection program in the industry, which should help your donors feel more secure about their ability to make a sizable pledge. The lack of a platform fee makes this one of the best fundraising websites available…but don’t forget to factor in those processing fees!
What? In terms of what GoFundMe is best for, they have a series of featured categories, including medical fees, memorials, emergency needs, nonprofits, education, and animal causes, but they’ve also opened up individual funding options for everything from faith to newlywed costs to competitions and even a category they call “wishes.”
Where to find it? https://www.gofundme.com/
Why? Crowdrise was established almost ten years ago, but was recently acquired by GoFundMe. Thus, you can expect to see some possible changes ahead integrating Crowdrise with other GoFundMe campaigns, even though the platform is quite different. Meaning, while this is not the kind of site you would think of as one of the best fundraising websites for individuals, if you’re trying to raise money for a non-profit or a cause, this is a great option for you! The fees range from free (plus processing fees) for basic membership, to 5% (plus processing fees) for a more full-service option.
What? For right now, the audience is specifically geared toward online social fundraising (from campaigns to events) that support non-profit groups, with options for campaigns ranging from peer-to-peer fundraising to runs, walks, cycles, and other kinds of “thon” type events (yogathons, danceathons, etc.)—and even car washes and bake sales. If you want to host a fundraiser for a known non-profit (or raise funds for a non-profit you start yourself!) this would be one of the best websites for fundraising you can use.
Where to find it? https://www.crowdrise.com
Why? Chuffed is a new kind of crowdsourcing platform in that it offers its users an “academy” experience, taking them through the basics of crowdfunding from concept to thank you notes after the campaign. What makes this one of the best fundraising websites for individuals is that the entire process is free for the person / cause soliciting funds as all fees are paid directly by the donor. This means that the donor selects the amount they are comfortable giving, and then pays a fee on top of that amount to process the payment. So, if they pledge $25, you will get the full amount, and the donor would pay closer to $30 to cover the fees.
What? The Chuffed Academy program is itself funded by individual donors, philanthropic organizations, and government grants, allowing the donor fees to defray processing costs so that the savings gets passed on to the user. However, not every user is eligible to use the platform. Fundraisers need to complete the academy and provide answers to questions that determine eligibility. Want to know if you or your cause is eligible? Start here and find out.
Where to find it? https://chuffed.org/us
Why? Rockethub has been providing fundraising options since 2009. Voted one of the best crowdsourcing websites due to its ties with emerging nations, it has a partnership with the US Department of State and has the endorsement of people like Bill Gates. The platform offers two primary platform models (with their own fee structures) for fundraisers to use. The campaigns are created in RocketHub and then shared on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. If the project is fully-funded, you keep all of the funds, less a 4% platform fee and a 4% processing fee. If the project is partially funded, you keep the funds—but in this case, less an 8% platform fee and 4% processing fees.
What? Known for its partnerships with other agencies, governments, and corporations (including car companies and network television), RocketHub has created a model for direct-to-fan social media networking and fundraising. If you’re looking to launch a start-up, this could be a great fit for you, as the ELEQUITY community within the platform offers feedback from other successful entrepreneurs about your campaign in addition to support from donors.
Where to find it? http://rockethub.com/
Why? CircleUp is one of the best fundraising websites available to start-ups and entrepreneurs…if your business makes the cut. Technically, they are a technology company, providing funding to start-ups, entrepreneurs, and organizations that are attempting to bring a product to market or launch a company. Primarily, they help individuals and organizations raise money (through funding and credit) to get from idea to launch.
What? They work with fundraisers and donors to crunch big data, providing interested investors with analytics about how likely your company is to succeed. If your numbers look good (including analysis of market share and the competition), they will help promote you, and share their enthusiasm for your company with their network. They’ve worked with some pretty impressive start-ups; for example, if you’ve eaten HaloTop ice cream or Miyokos vegan cheese, you’ve experienced one (of many!) of their supported brands!
Where to find it? https://circleup.com/
Why? LendingClub is a way to crowdsource a loan for anything you want, from travel to personal loans—even credit card consolidation. While not technically one of the best fundraising websites, it often it appears in lists of the best best crowdsourcing websites because of the option to post a need, consider offers from lenders, and accept as many (or as few) as you would like. The rates and fees vary, depending on the offers and amounts, but for many people, crowdsourcing a loan can be a more flexible and more appealing method of getting funds than going through a traditional bank or credit company.
What? While LendingClub is geared toward loan funding, if you’re in the business of trying to raise money in the long-term and have some funds to spare in the short-term, you can even sign up to be an investor and cash in on someone else’s need to raise income for your own. Just make sure you read all of the getting-started materials before you make a commitment, as the terms are typically pretty strict.
Where to find it? https://www.lendingclub.com/
Why? MightyCause appeals to people and organizations attempting to raise funds for established nonprofits. Positioning themselves as an alternative to PayPal donations, they provide two tiers of fundraising support: a starter plan for free, and an advanced plan for $99 per month that includes data integration and a CRM (customer relationship manager) program included, making it easier to follow up with donors after the campaign.
What? As with other fundraising platforms geared toward nonprofits, MightyCause may not be the best website for fundraising, but they do allow for individuals and organizations to run high-impact campaigns without the overhead that fundraising projects can sometimes require when it comes to brand management, payment processing, advertising, and general outreach.
Where to find it? https://www.mightycause.com/
Why? EquityEats has recently rebranded itself as InKind. Focused on start-ups for restaurants and food projects, if you’re launching a food project, the idea is to provide credit to guests and patrons who support your venture while the InKind team offers you all kinds of support, and (this is why they are always on the best website for fundraising lists) even provide up to one million dollars of interest-free financing to businesses they believe in. That’s a lot of lettuce!
What? Again, it’s not really for everyone, but definitely for foodies and restaurateurs. This crowdfunding platform works with you to give you credits (in the form of bonuses) for dining from their list of funded projects, while also providing incentives for food business owners. They also put their money where their mouths are and provide a series of case studies to help you better understand how they help food start-ups succeed.
Where to find it? https://www.inkind.com
Why? Ulule calls itself one of the best crowdsourcing websites for makers. They focus on direct funding to individuals and are among the all-or-nothing funding sites. This means if you set a fundraising goal and don’t reach it, Ulule will return all of the money your backers pledged to you, and will charge you nothing based on their commission model. However, if your campaign is successful, they will charge you 6% of the total raised, plus processing fees; and, since they are a global community, you will also have to pay any currency conversion fees and VAT (Value Added Tax) for the funds coming from countries that require it.
What? Focusing on creatives and appealing to the maker community, Ulule tries to position itself as one of the best fundraising websites for individuals. This is particularly true if you’re in one of their hot categories, which range from music, film, writing, and art, to heritage studies, education, and charities, plus technology, game development, and personal projects—which could be anything!
Where to find it? https://www.ulule.com/
Why? Odds are that if you’re on Facebook, you’ve already been invited to donate to someone’s birthday fundraiser for a charitable cause. As you likely know, you can support political actions, social justice causes, animal welfare, and so much more, just by checking your newsfeed and making a couple of clicks. Set-up is fairly simple and you can customize your fundraiser according to your needs. There are no fees for monies raised for established nonprofits, but fees for personal causes vary according to where the fundraiser lives. If you’re in the United States, that means you will pay 2.6% plus a fee of $0.30 per dollar raised.
What? If you’re interested in raising money for your own projects, just remember the goal is to find a way to make your campaign stand out. With over 2.3 billion users, it might be tempting to think of this as one of the best crowdsourcing website options available…but remember, your reach is only as far as your actual contact list.
Where to find it? https://www.facebook.com/fundraisers/
Why? For individuals (using a Facebook account to sign up) or for established nonprofits, Fundly ranks among the best crowdsourcing websites due to its multi-tiered approach to supporting its fundraisers and members of its fundraising community. Using a blog and video-heavy approach, Fundly offers options for quick, easy fundraising with a simple set-up process and no start-up fees. There is no minimum raise, and you can keep whatever you make, but there is a 4.9% fee on all donations, plus a 2.9% processing fee, along with a $0.30 charge on every dollar per transaction.
What? Fundly prides itself on being mobile-friendly and media-rich, so if you’re a person who enjoys blogging, Instagram, videos, and multimedia messaging, this could be the perfect platform for you to explore. They also include tips about how to get news coverage for your fundraising campaign, and a separate bit of resource-guiding on designing and selling swag to maximize your funding potential, as well.
Where to find it? https://fundly.com
A checklist for the best fundraising websites
So how can you tell what the best website for fundraising might be for your particular cause? While there are many (many!) more options than those listed here, we’ve identified fifteen good choices for you among the best crowdsourcing websites out there. So what should you do next if you’re trying to figure out what is the best fundraising website? We suggest that you review this next checklist of six questions to help you narrow down the best match for you so that you can get started on your fundraising goals!
1. Does the platform have low fees?
The fundraising options we mentioned show a wide range of funding fees (from 0% up to 12%, not including processing charges), but there are some platforms that will keep up to 30% of your overall fundraising total, once you factor in fees. The best way to prepare yourself? Read the fine print—all of it—and if you do have the option to use a donor-pays cost option, make sure your donors are aware of how (through clear communication on your part) that extra amount they pay will help you get to your goals!
2. Is it easy to sign up?
Some platforms let you sign up with something you’re already using (like a Facebook profile or other social media connection), while others will ask you to provide all kinds of up-front information prior to letting you join their site. Keep in mind that you should act according to your comfort level (and use common sense about providing personal or financial information!), but the best fundraising websites will make it easy for you to get started because they want to provide you with the support you seek.
3. Are there successful campaigns you can view for reference?
On some of the very best crowdsourcing websites, like FundMyTravel.com, you can see examples of successful campaigns and read testimonials from users. This is an important feature to look for. While campaign platforms are likely to sing their own praises (and not to say that’s not legit when it is!), the users, donors, and campaigners are the ones most likely to give you the straight story on the experience. And yes, there will always be those big stories and crazy outliers (like the guy with the $55,000 potato salad on Kickstarter!), but the true test of a platform’s success is in its every day ability to help people like you raise the funds you need.
4. Does it meet all of your needs for totals, fees, and timelines?
Make sure you add it all up. When you factor in the platform fees, processing fees, opportunity to keep whatever you make (or not!), and the total number of days / weeks required to create a campaign, post it, run it, and collect on it, are you within a reasonable overall timeline for your project goals? If you’re hoping to raise enough money to take a winter volunteer expedition to Egypt and it’s now June, is the window of set-up and operations (and funding!) going to work? And if not, what’s the next best website for fundraising you should consider instead?
5. Is it a proven option for raising funds?
Testimonials and success stories are super-important, but so is the platform’s track record. If over 10,000 people have posted campaigns and you find that 10 of them have amazing things to say, but the other 9,990 campaigns were not funded or ended up falling short, you will want to consider how significant a reach this platform might afford you. Make sure you look at the overall percentage of funded projects when making your decision, and keep in mind that any reputable example of the best crowdsourcing website choices on these lists will post that information right up front!
6. Is it backed by anyone / anything you wouldn’t otherwise support?
Now we’re getting personal (and possibly political), but with crowdsourcing being a great way for founders and investors to make money, it’s become a lucrative business to get into. Some of the more popular sites are very up-front about where they get their money from (and what they do with it), but for others, you might have to do a bit of digging.
For example, if you want to go and save endangered wildlife and volunteer for animal welfare abroad, you’re likely not going to accept funding from sources that are at odds with your passions or your ethics. The best fundraising website options will be transparent about where their money comes from, so that you can make sure you’re comfortable with it, too!
In short, make sure that you view all angles of your fundraising goals so that when you look at your comparison charts and notes, if you were asked “what is the best fundraising website for you?” the answer would be simple, well researched, and clear.
Now you know the best website for fundraising…go use it!
As you can see, some of these crowdsourcing sites function primarily as lenders, while some serve as bonus-providers. Many of the best fundraising websites offer rewards to the participants while others are pure donation sites, focused mainly on raising funds for your cause. Whatever type of platform is best for you, there are countless options for you to choose from, so remember (we can’t stress this enough!) to do your research and look at the big picture!
But if your goal is to raise funds to travel abroad—whether for study, volunteering, adventure, interning, teaching, or even taking a gap year—we think the best fundraising website you could pick would be FundMyTravel.com. The set-up is easy, the resources are comprehensive, and the fees are super-reasonable. Plus, you can share your campaign with the world in any way you choose, and you’re not limited to specific platforms or social media types. Even better, your travel goals will not get lost in a sea of gadgets and food trucks…and you can even learn from others about the tips and tricks that worked best for them. Pretty sweet deal, right?
This article was written by Andi Sciacca. Andi is based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband and their four-legged family. She works with inspired professionals who are expert practitioners, experienced educators, and well-known contributors to their field. Andi helps them take ideas and put them into practice. When not working or writing, she loves to experience music, see the world, and learn new things. Andi’s favorite places to travel include anywhere she can eat good food—and swim.