GoFundMe – Rewards-Based Crowdfunding -Crowdfunding for Human Interests
On its homepage, GoFundMe proclaims that people with “personal causes and life events” are likely to find a home, which makes it the best crowdfunding websites designed for personal projects. These can range from paying medical bills for victims of alligators and gunshot wounds, to paying for the shoes of “America’s Tallest Man”, to anniversary trips, to college education funds. Non-profits and charities are also encouraged to sign up, though donations to certified charities (such as the American Cancer Society or Red Cross) are handled by third-party site FirstGiving.
Warnings are also given on the homepage, regarding making donations to strangers. Social media use is certainly encouraged, via widgets and a dashboard with social media integration. However, unlike either Kickstarter or IndieGoGo (in which the name of the game is social media exposure to like-minded strangers), this fundraising platform is primarily geared toward those who need a safe haven for contributions made by people who they already know.
To guard against fraud, it’s not even possible for a GoFundMe page to appear in search directory results, unless these criteria are met: a functional Facebook page, a genuine video or photo, and a benchmark of $100 in donations made online. Team members must personally approve the page, which will then be listed on the search directory within a 12-hour period. Otherwise, the page will continue to function but won’t be found as easily.
Also unlike Kickstarter and IndieGogo, a crowdfunding campaign managed through GoFundMe has a very soft approach to deadlines and goals. Countdowns commonly range from one week to twelve weeks, though there are no set time limits, unless the campaign creator chooses to pick the All-or-Nothing approach. Under the charity and personal donation campaigns, withdrawals of any amount can be sent to a bank account (or snail-mailed by paper check), without reducing visible signs of progress on the campaign’s goal meter. Under an All-or-Nothing campaign, donations are only charged to the donors (and sent to the campaign creator) once the deadline and funding goal have been reached.
Nor are donors charged any fees, though any donations include a standard 5% fee (for GoFundMe), and a 3% processing fee, though charities and non-profit causes are charged 4.25% for processing. GoFundMe’s international crowdfunding campaigns (in Canada, Australia, Europe, and the United Kingdom) are charged Paypal rates for transaction fees, but the good news is that GoFundMe doesn’t add on any extra charges or exchange fees. Also, WePay is another funding option.
Since much of the GoFundMe niche deals with sensitive topics (from medical expenses to memorial services), the customer service team has a stated response time of 5 minutes, rather than IndieGoGo’s 24-hour rule. GoFundMe has gotten impressive press reviews, from “a very easy vehicle to raise money” (crowdfunder Victoria Albright on NPR) to “Kickstarter looks frivolous by comparison” (Ben Schiller on www.fastcoexist.com). As a fundraising platform, GoFundMe may not be very firmly in third place behind IndieGoGo. Both sites were launched in 2008, have a similar number of employees, and have raised around $100 million, though IndieGoGo has completed only 44,000 campaigns to GoFundMe’s 300,000 campaigns. Both sites are, however, firmly behind Kickstarter, who has raised over $760 million with 4.7 million backers.