13 places that could be your best crowdfunding platform
When you look up the definition of crowdfunding it’s easy to think that you can simply post your idea online, and thousands of people will throw money at you. If only it was that easy!
Finding the best crowdfunding platform is just the start. There are so many places to raise money online, each with their own benefits, downsides, and secrets. So, which is the top crowdfunding platform? Is there no such thing as the best crowdfunding platform?
Recipe for crowdfunding success
Like all marketing campaigns, it is important to have an integrated, strategic plan, including PR, direct mail, together with organic and paid-for social media. Part of the preparation includes making sure your digital channels and assets for the different stages of the launch have the correct call to action. Then your communications programme needs to attract fans and convert them to backers by creating attractive rewards packages and incentives. The key stages to think about are preparation, build-up, pressing go, keeping it alive, funding milestones, then closure reporting.
According to Statistica: "As of February 2023, the success rate of fully funding a project on the crowdfunding website like Kickstarter was 40.34% and more than four out of 10 projects on Kickstarter were successfully funded, while roughly six out of 10 projects were unsuccessful."
A general stat across all crowdfunding reporting is that campaigns that raise 30% - 40% of their goal within the first 48 hours to a week are more likely to succeed. And guess what, this is when all crowdfunding algorithms kick in and promote the raise to their own networks. So, this highlights the importance of preparation. It is also important to keep in mind that crowdfunding is part of a wider marketing campaign, it may attract investors in different ways either through partnerships or resources.
Here are 13 different places that you can crowdfund investment for your business – and what we think of them.
Best for: companies seeking equity raises. This is a top crowdfunding platform for companies that are happy to put a little equity on the line to find the right investors. Companies such as YellowDog, Perkbox, and Wriggle have raised money through it.
Worst for: indie creators – you just don’t fit their approach, but don’t worry, there are plenty of other crowdfunding sites for you. Read on!
The lowdown: you need to be looking to raise a minimum of £50,000 (or the equivalent in euros) and looking to offer equity in your business. You’ll need to have insight into your market, the experience of your team, your customer base and demographics, and the financial health of the business. Seedrs take an admin fee of your total sum raised, and you have to reach your target to secure the funds.
Best for: companies that have demonstrated that they can deliver in one market and are eager and ready to hit a second.
Worst for: companies without a significant audience base – you need to hit that 20% before you are featured or discoverable on their site, so you’ll need to do the groundwork with your Crowdcube link and actively share first.
The lowdown: with an average raise of £651k, this platform requires a slightly higher admin fee (7% + a ‘completion fee’ that averages out at around 1%) and offers an in-house legal team to ensure that you understand exactly how your crowdfund will impact your business right now, and in the future. Like Seedrs, you need to secure your total target otherwise you won’t get a penny.
Best for: independent creators, people making ‘things’, and cult followings (or brands with cult followings) to launch products.
Worst for: big companies looking to make a splash through their investment raises.
The lowdown: best known for hosting creatives and makers, Kickstarter offers a rewards-based crowdfunding model, where those looking to raise funds offer their support for a physical (or digital) ‘thing’ as a thank you. This can range as broadly as books, 3D printers, and food. Just like the equity platforms of Crowdcube and Seedrs, however, you’ll need to hit your target to take anything home.
Best for: micro-delivery campaigns that have a strong business model but won’t be conquering the world (yet).
Worst for: companies that need a specific amount to continue successfully.
The lowdown: famous perhaps as one of the few crowdfunding platforms that allows you to take any money raised home with you – so you don’t necessarily have to hit your target – Indiegogo has a series of ‘Entrepreneur Services’ targeted at those with little to no business knowledge.
5. Code Investing
Best for: businesses that don’t want to worry about equity.
Worst for: companies that already have significant debt.
The lowdown: marketed as ‘traditional and non-traditional lenders’, Code Investing offers a way for people to connect in a way that’s a little different. Instead of being a top crowdfunding platform this is a way to raise finance through loans, with no security or guarantees required. As SMEs can struggle to gain access to traditional loans, this is a way to do just that.
Best for: social enterprise, community projects, or ethically based companies.
Worst for: companies that aren’t looking to have hundreds, if not thousands of individuals investing and wanting regular updates on their investment.
The lowdown: self-describing as ‘make money do good’, this is a positive investment platform that enables people to invest in social enterprises that are looking to raise funds. Companies looking for capital need to share their minimum and maximum targets, and what the potential return is, usually expressed as a percentage of money invested. Typical targets are under a million, but there are also funds to invest in which have a larger and longer-term view.
Best for: organisations or companies looking to make ‘positive change’ through their growth.
Worst for: the ‘get rich quick’ style of companies that aren’t looking to directly give back to the community.
The lowdown: Triodos is perhaps best known for being an ethical bank, but they’ve got a finger in the crowdfunding pie too. They are looking to partner with companies that are established with a positive profit track record, who have demonstrated that they can repay capital, investments, or loans. If you don’t quite fit this template, they also offer loans and overdrafts.
8. Funding Circle
Best for: companies that don’t want to give up equity or rewards and are confident that they can pay back a loan.
Worst for: founders who want to build a community behind their brand.
The lowdown: more finance than crowdfunding, Funding Circle offers a way to get a business loan within days, up to £500k – which may not be enough for you. The rates are relatively low at the time of writing (1.9% per annum), and best of all they don’t lump you with a fee if you’re able to pay it back early. Bonus.
Best for: those looking to buy, build, or renovate properties.
Worst for: pretty much anyone else.
The lowdown: LendInvest is all about property – and that’s it. They don’t fit the traditional crowdfunding definition, but they do offer unsecured loans and mortgages to those who want to get into property, big or small, essentially acting as a marketplace for those who have cash to invest, and those who need cash to turn around a property. They even have a section for intermediaries too.
Best for: companies that feel confident in giving a solid return to their investors.
Worst for: experimental innovators who are testing the market.
The lowdown: peer-to-peer lending can seem a little strange for some people: who is giving me this money, and what happens to mine if I invest it? However, RateSetter has put a variety of checks in place which do not force borrowers to always pay things back, but at the same time do protect lenders. Loans are offered at a variety of rates but only go up to £500k, so if you’re looking for more than that you may have to combine this with another option.
Best for: this is the best crowdfunding platform for authors with a strong audience, or the determination to build one.
Worst for: well. Anyone but authors.
The lowdown: books, baby. This crowdfunding platform is all about giving authors the opportunity to gain funds for publishing, a surprisingly expensive endeavour. Unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Unbound is the publisher itself, so you have to pitch to their commissioning editors first before you can start creating your campaign plan. If you’re accepted, you’ll be given a ‘crowdfunding target’ which is an estimate of the publishing cost.
12. Crowdfunder UK
Best for: Self-service crowdfunding suitable for individuals raising money for charities or causes that matter to them, quick start and basic crowdfunding features for donation-only projects and no platform fee applied. For-profit companies, it is easy to set up with a 5% for for-profit projects. Transaction fees apply to all.
Worst for: Fundraisers that don't understand the process may select the wrong options and not understand that you need to do a lot of work in building up interest before the project launches - significant resources (money and/or time) may be required. If you don't reach your funding target, any finance that has been pledged will usually be returned to your investors and you will receive nothing.
The lowdown: Over £250 million has been raised by over one million people, supporting over 300,000 great ideas on Crowdfunder. That makes us them the UK’s biggest crowdfunding platform.
Best for: Flexible crowdfunding and investment for social, creative, and business projects. Grant funding and match funding is available.
Worst for: the ‘get rich quick’ corporate-centric style of companies that aren’t looking to create a positive social impact.
The lowdown: The Fundsurfer team has experience of fundraising across different industries, which include: film & TV finance, tech investment, charities, social enterprises and non-profits,
real estate, green investment and crypto. Fundsurfer are really hands-on helping with setup and advising on funding options to suit specific businesses and campaign processes.
Hopefully, this list has given you an insight into how varied (and complex) crowdfunding websites can be.