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The crowdfunding model is proving to be a spectacular success, boosting the prospects of tens of thousands of entrepreneurs while growing into a $5 billion industry. But despite conservative estimates that today’s business visionaries now have more than 450 different crowdfunding platforms to choose from, the vast majority of people still think that crowdfunding is synonymous with Kickstarter.

Now, Kickstarter is certainly a stunning platform. After five years in operation it has reportedly received over $1 billion in pledges from 5.7 million supporters backing over 135,000 projects. But it certainly isn’t the only game in town, and chances are that Kickstarter might not be the best match crowdfunding platform for your own project’s structure, audience, rewards, subject matter, ambition, location, financial model, equity structure, ethics – you name it. For example, you can’t use Kickstarter if you plan on giving money or goods directly to a charitable cause.

Fortunately you are only one fun afternoon’s online hunting expedition away from flushing out your perfect crowdfunding partner. Nail down your top priorities, get your fingers at the keyboard, and bag yourself that dream platform. To get you started, I thought I’d share some of the more interesting models out there to give you a little inspiration.  If you’re coming to our one-day crowdfunding comms and PR workshop on September 5 in Boston then we’ll be covering a number of these – and how to build a solid PR and marketing plan – in more detail.

  • Indiegogo – One of the very first crowdfunding sites and perhaps Kickstarter’s closest rival, Indiegogo is still the go-to platform for many start-ups and charity projects. It gets nearly ten million visits every month and runs on an investor/reward model that will pretty familiar to fans of the big K.  The most obvious difference is that Indiegogo offers project owners the choice to bag partial funding even if their initial goal isn’t hit – however Indiegogo does then take a greater slice of the pot
  • RocketHub – Another platform that offers the opportunity to take out funds even if goals aren’t realized, RocketHub is building somewhat of a reputation as a hothouse of community, arts, science and socially aware projects. Perhaps most interestingly, a recent partnership with US media company A&E Networks and the launch of ‘Project Startup’ can mean big exposure for some lucky project owners, and perhaps even direct funding from A&E itself
  • Fundable – Boasting $137 million in funding to date, Fundable does things a little differently. It’s a business-oriented platform focused on driving capital injections and even allows you to offer equity rather than rewards if that’s what you’re looking for. The Fundable team is very hands on with project owners and doesn’t take a cut from successfully funded projects, but it does charge you $99 a month in return for its training and marketing efforts
  • Razoo – One of an alternate breed of crowdfunding platforms focused exclusively on the needs of non-profits, Razoo has enabled nearly 90,000 fundraising projects to see the light of day, helping them to raise over $230 million to date. It’s free to start a fundraiser, visibility is particularly high in the US, but Razoo is still a business (even with a heart) and it will still take 4.9% of all donations for itself
  • Seedrs – As its name suggests Seedrs’ model helps financially sophisticated startups raise seed capital from independent investors as well as closer contacts like friends and families. The hope is that investors will be there to offer advice, mentoring and advocacy for early-stage businesses as well as raw capital. Equity purchases start as low as £10

These are just a few alternative options to the almighty Kickstarter. Remember there are hundreds of others out there filling pretty much every investment profile niche you can imagine. MoolaHoop focuses on female entrepreneurs, Trillion Fund favors renewables, Quirky likes whacky inventions, Unbound funds publishing projects, Gambitious rewards gaming developers, and appbackr… backs apps! You get the idea – let’s hope thousands of cash-rich investors get yours.