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Nonprofit Strategies

6 best crowdfunding sites for every cause

Compare the fees, features, and rules for the most popular crowdfunding platforms and find the right fit for your fundraising needs.

Anna Bean
June 30, 2023
December 22, 2021
Nerd Mr Butter

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Dozens of websites offer crowdfunding tools for just about anyone that needs to raise money for their cause, whether it’s individual financial needs, creative projects, organizational startup costs, or nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Every crowdfunding platform comes with its own perks and drawbacks, depending on its features, user interface, and what cut of your earnings it keeps. 

Plenty of crowdfunding sites claim to be free while charging fees that can take a hefty percentage of the funds you raise. To help you hit your goals and keep more of your hard-earned donations, we’re comparing the top platforms for crowdfunding of every kind. 

What is crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is the process of raising money from a group of individuals.

Different from loans, grants, or other philanthropic forms of funding that come with certain requirements and deliverables, crowdfunding platforms enable anyone to chip in—usually in smaller amounts—without receiving anything in return (other than a small token of appreciation, a thank-you note, or a promised incentive).

Crowdfunding is not just a fundraising strategy for nonprofits; it can also help launch small businesses, inventions, classroom needs for teachers, and even personal loans. In recent years, crowdfunding websites have added tools like social media sharing, video, peer-to-peer fundraising, and email marketing to help crowdfunders spread the word and raise more. 

Let’s look at what the top six crowdfunding sites have to offer—and how much they’ll cost you.

1. Givebutter: Nonprofit crowdfunding that’s easy, free, and fun

👍 Best for: Nonprofits of all kinds, including charities, schools, teams, and community- or faith-based organizations.

💸 Pricing: Givebutter is completely free for nonprofits with a 0% platform fee thanks to optional donor tips. Only the standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for its secure payment processor, which 95% of donors opt to cover.

🍨 The scoop: Givebutter puts the fun in crowdfunding, with free, custom fundraising pages, events, and auctions built for donor engagement that you can get up and running in minutes. Each campaign has an interactive supporter feed where you can share updates and exchange GIFs, comments, drawings, and photos with your donors. Plus, Givebutter accepts every kind of payment method under the sun.

Fundraising pages on Givebutter

Givebutter also offers the most features with the least amount of fees. With peer-to-peer campaigns, event ticketing, auctions, and donor management tools, you can keep growing your community of support long after your crowdfunding campaign ends.

2. Patreon: A crowdfunding platform for the arts

👍 Best for: Creators with an existing or growing following, including artists, podcasters, journalists, and creative entrepreneurs

💸 Pricing: 8–12% platform fee, plus payment processing fees, payout fees, and more. 

🍨 The scoop: Harkening back to “patrons of the arts,” Patreon is a crowdfunding site that lets fans contribute a recurring donation (from $5 to $50+ per month) to directly support their favorite artists, often receiving perks like exclusive content for their ongoing support. Fans and artists both enjoy the platform because it allows the creative the financial freedom to produce more authentic content.

Nonprofits can also fundraise on Patreon, offering different levels of membership and perks to go along with each level.

Membership plan on Patreon

With crowdfunding pages that offer messaging tools, member-only livestreams, analytics, e-commerce, and various integrations, the platform does come with its own limitations. For example, artists can’t create one-off fundraising campaigns for specific needs or projects. 

And Patreon’s pricing model relies on high fees, which take a sizeable chunk out of any earnings from artists and nonprofits.

3. GoFundMe: Individual crowdfunding for a variety of needs

👍 Best for: Individuals fundraising for personal costs and creating campaigns to support nonprofits

💸 Pricing: GoFundMe requires users to ask donors for a platform tip and doesn’t give donors the option to cover its 2.9% + $0.30 payment processing fee.

🍨 The scoop: Families, individuals, and nonprofits create crowdfunding pages with GoFundMe to raise money for everything from unexpected medical expenses, memorials, or emergency needs in the aftermath of natural disasters.

New tools have made it easier for individuals and teams to crowdfund on behalf of a nonprofit organization, but the platform does not include email marketing tools, CRM, event management, auctions, or interactive supporter feeds.

How to fundraise for a nonprofit on GoFundMe

While GoFundMe is a free crowdfunding platform, this doesn't mean you'll keep every cent you raise. GoFundMe collects payment processing fees, which are hidden from (and cannot be covered by) donors. Meanwhile, GoFundMe asks donors for tips upwards of 15% to support their platform, but none of those funds can help cover fees. 

4. Kickstarter: A high-stakes crowdfunding site

👍 Best for: Time-bound creative projects, such as films, albums, board games, and product launches.

💸 Pricing: Kickstarted charges a 5% platform fee if you reach your fundraising goal, and a 3% + $0.20 transaction fee (or 5% + $0.05 per transaction if the donation is under $10).

🍨 The scoop: One of the most recognizable names in the crowdfunding space, Kickstarter provides custom campaign pages with an embedded video where creators offer various “rewards” as incentives for contributions (which can only be made with debit or credit cards).

This platform is built to fund concrete, shareable endeavors like books, games, and technology prototypes—all of which must go through an approval process that can span between one and 60 days.

Notably, nonprofits on Kickstarter cannot create campaigns for general charitable donations to fund their programs or advocacy work, and proceeds from a Kickstarter project may not be donated to nonprofits. 

But many arts-based nonprofits use the platform to fund their work, like this journalism project from the Brooklyn Movement Center.

Fundraising on Kickstarter

Kickstarter also operates on an all-or-nothing model. If a project doesn't hit its fundraising goal, every cent gets returned to a project’s backers—no ifs, ands, or buts. This is not the platform for last-minute crowdfunders!

5. Indiegogo: Crowdfunding for creative endeavors that need more flexibility

👍 Best for: Launching new projects, such as tech startups, artists, and other creative endeavors.

💸 Pricing: Indiegogo charges a 5% platform fee, 2.9% + $0.30 transaction fee, and a transfer fee that varies.

🍨 The scoop: Like Kickstarter, Indiegogo is a crowdfunding platform designed to fund innovative projects, products, and inventions from small businesses and artists.

But unlike Kickstarter, nonprofits are allowed to raise funds on Indiegogo. And with the platform’s “In Demand” features, creators can continue to raise funds and engage with supporters after their initial, 60-day maximum campaign ends.

Fundraising page on Indiegogo

Indiegogo offers two kinds of crowdfunding: fixed funding (you keep what you raise) and flexible funding (you must hit your fundraising goal to keep your earnings). Both of these require a minimum of $500 raised. 

Crowdfunding pages enable creators to share their stories, add pictures and videos, invite other campaign members, and track data with Google Analytics. Unfortunately, Indiegogo lacks event management features and livestreaming functionality and doesn’t accept a wide variety of payment methods. 

In addition to charging platform and payment processing fees, Indiegogo automatically keeps an additional 5% of your earnings for a reserved funds account (to be used in case of donor refunds). Even if no refunds occur, Indiegogo will hold these earnings for up to six months.

6. Bonfire: Crowdfunding via merch

👍 Best for: Quick T-shirt or merch campaigns.

💸 Pricing: Bonfire charges an 8% donation processing fee, which can be reduced to 3.5% for eligible nonprofits.

🍨 The scoop: Bonfire is a crowdfunding platform built entirely around T-shirt campaigns. With Bonfire, users design and sell custom T-shirts, totes, and other merch before selling them through their donation pages or an online merchandise store. 

The platform is free to use, but Bonfire does take a cut of your gross sales to pay for manufacturing, sourcing, printing, and shipping costs. 

T-shirt merch on Bonfire

Bonfire is very user-friendly, allowing users to design a page from scratch or start from a pre-designed template. And while individuals and nonprofits can launch peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and supporters can contribute extra dollars to your cause, ongoing donor engagement and other fundraising activities are not offered on the platform.

Crowdfund better with Givebutter

Whether you're raising funds for your child's elementary school, opening a swag shop for your sports team, or launching a grassroots nonprofit, a crowdfunding site can rally people together to pitch in toward a common goal. If you’re going to ask your supporters for money, you want to use the most effective crowdfunding platform that doesn’t charge ridiculous fees. 

Givebutter is the best crowdfunding platform for nonprofits because it offers a huge range of free features with no subscriptions, platform fees, or add-on costs. Givebutter's all-in-one fundraising solution comes complete with branded fundraising pages and forms, event ticketing, auctions, email marketing, text messaging, third-party integrations, and a nonprofit CRM—all for free.

Crowdfund for your cause, for free

Ready to see how Givebutter can boost your crowdfunding efforts? Create your free account to launch your crowdfunding campaign today.

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Set up your peer-to-peer fundraiser for free in just a few minutes →

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