Imagine this—you’re on a set campaign time limit and you need a fundraising method that raises revenue fast. Maybe you’ve hosted fundraising events before or even attended an auction or two, but now you need a reliable method you know you can count on.

For this scenario, crowdfunding is the perfect solution. Every year an average of $17.2 billion in crowdfunding dollars is generated in North America alone. Regardless of your cause, crowdfunding is one of the most lucrative fundraising methods out there.

However, there is one aspect of crowdfunding that can be tricky—selecting the right crowdfunding platform. The wrong choice could cause setup issues, hidden fees, limited visibility, or even withhold any funds you make if you don’t reach your fundraising target. Yikes!

To help you navigate the murky waters of crowdfunding website selection, we’ve put together five considerations. By evaluating your website research with these measures, you can be confident that the platform you choose is the right one for you. Let’s jump in!

1. User-friendliness

How easily can you navigate through the crowdfunding website? An intuitive platform will save you from website management headaches and give you more time to do what counts—reaching your supporters.

Additionally, you want to find a platform that offers a streamlined experience to your donors to decrease any bounce rate. To evaluate your platform’s user-friendliness, reference this checklist:

  • Campaign creation process. Assess whether there are clear instructions, help prompts, or tool tips when you hover over specific features.
  • Drag and drop features. How easily can you upload images or text? Platforms with drag-and-drop functionality can make the setup process painless.
  • Mobile responsiveness. Over half of all web users browse via mobile devices, so this criterion is a must. Ensure you can replicate your campaign vision on both mobile and desktop.
  • Set up time. Estimate how long it will take to launch your campaign online. If it takes longer than expected, this may be due to long load times or unclear instructions.

You can consider these factors by choosing a direct trial or by watching any available demo videos. If you’re new to crowdfunding, compare multiple platform interfaces to assess your options and choose the one that makes sense for your cause.

2. Available features

Because crowdfunding is such a popular fundraising method, there are lots of available features you can use to enhance your campaign. Everything from donation page customization to marketing and results tracking can tailor your campaign to your needs.

Here are some must-have features to keep in mind:

  • Multimedia capabilities. Most platforms should allow you to easily upload videos, images, and other media elements that enrich your campaign’s story.
  • Social media integration. Facebook and other social media integration tools can accelerate your reach and make your campaign easily shareable.
  • Recurring donation options. For donors who are interested in giving regularly, recurring donation features are a must.
  • Blog updates. Select websites that offer blog integration to keep your audience updated on the latest campaign news.
  • Tiers and rewards. A similar feature across all crowdfunding platforms is a tier or rewards system for different donation levels.
  • Data analytics. Some platforms offer digital dashboards for you to track donations, monitor campaign performance, and gain new data insights.
  • Donor communication. Look for a platform that allows you to communicate with donors through automated thank-you messages and direct messaging.

NXUnite’s guide to crowdfunding suggests looking into your site’s online payment processor as selecting a lesser-known payment platform will make donors less inclined to give. Be sure the online platform you choose uses strong security to protect both your and your donor’s data.

Compare each platform’s current features to find ones that align with your cause. For example, if you’re planning to run a longer campaign, make sure your chosen platform has detailed reporting and campaign tracking, so you can make informed decisions to enhance your progress.

3. Customer support

Select a platform with a reliable support team that can help should you run into any issues. Most providers have a dedicated FAQ page where you can find answers to common platform questions. But in case something goes awry, you’ll want to be able to count on fast response times and helpful answers.

Therefore, you should make sure your platform has some form of the following resources readily available:

  • Online guides. Many websites post simple how-to guides that can take you step by step through campaign creation and answer platform-specific questions.
  • Peer support groups. Some platforms have dedicated forums or chat rooms where you can connect with other fundraisers to discuss any roadblocks or learn new tips.
  • Dedicated support team. Ensure your chosen platform has a support number you can call if needed. This will give you peace of mind just in case.

With these resources in hand, you can approach crowdfunding with confidence knowing that any technical issue you run into will easily be resolved.

4. Price

Most crowdfunding websites price their services based on a percentage of the overall funds collected. However, depending on the website, platform, and processing fees may vary. Examine crowdfunding platforms by looking into these elements of the fine print:

  • Fundraising method. Some sites use a “Keep it All” (KIA) method of fundraising while others opt for an “All or Nothing Approach” (AON). KIA fundraisers receive funding regardless of whether they hit their goal or not. AON fundraisers only receive funding if they hit their fundraising goal. Know which one your website offers before signing up!
  • Upfront costs. Some platforms require upfront costs to launch campaigns although most just take a percentage of funds raised. However, special offerings like one-on-one fundraising coaching or premium digital marketing placement will require upfront costs.
  • Refund policy. Take time to understand how a crowdfunding platform will handle donation refunds and if there are any associated costs.

Knowing your platform’s pricing options upfront will save you from hidden fees and unexpected cost mishaps. If you have any questions about a certain platform’s pricing structure, reach out to their support team for direct answers.

5. Reputation

How well-known is the crowdfunding platform? Just like any other product you purchase online, it’s always best practice to verify a platform’s credibility. You can do this by researching the following items:

  • Client testimonials. Although they might be biased, refer to the website to find client reviews and take note of what features or processes they praised most highly.
  • Customer case studies. To delve deeper into a platform’s capabilities, read its case studies. Look to see if you find any nonprofit stories similar to yours and compare their funding performance.
  • Third-party reviews. Research third-party reviews and lists like Capterra to get an expert’s perspective on the right platform. These can be especially useful for choosing between your top two or three options.
  • Years of experience. Crowdfunding websites that have been on the market longer tend to have a trusted track record. Look into how long your provider has been in business and see who their main customers are.

If a website is too pricey or does not seem right for your cause, don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of options available. For instance, resources such as Fundly’s list of GoFundMe alternatives can give you some perspective on other platforms that might suit your needs better.

As a final note, be sure to read your platform’s terms and conditions. Some crowdfunding sites include eligibility requirements based on location, legal compliance, and the nature of your campaign. Additionally, many platforms have set campaign duration limits, so be sure to plan your selection accordingly. Review these rules and restrictions to ensure you’ve chosen a suitable platform.

Choosing the right crowdfunding site is the first step to hitting your fundraising goals. Do your research ahead of time by comparing features and customer case studies. After you’ve chosen your platform, look for ways to integrate your social media and expand your reach. Happy crowdfunding!