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What is IndieGoGo?

Updated on July 25, 2012

IndieGoGo is an online fundraising site dedicated to getting all kinds of weird and not-so-weird projects off the ground and into the heavens of fame, wealth and success.

Press play and read on!

How Does It Work?

You ask for money. Someone gives you money. And that's it.

Alternatively, you may have some extra money and you want to invest it in something... interesting.

And yeah, IndieGoGo gets a cut.

What Do I Get?

Well, it all depends on whether you're donating or looking for donations for your own projects. Basically, it's all about perks.

What perks? Exclusive parking space? A potted plant?

Whatever, as long as IndieGoGo gets a cut.

What Cut?!

Yupp. IndieGoGo gets a whopping 4% of your hard earned money IF you meet your project's budget goal. If you fail because you're a boring looser type without any promotional skills you get savaged for a massive 9%. The remaining measly 91% you can keep.

Tough, I know.

I Have A Project! What Now?

Here is what you do.

Go to website and set up an account. Then think real hard about what exactly are you trying to accomplish. This is pretty important, as you can imagine. Then consider what rewards can you offer to your kindly contributors. For example, if your goal is to publish a book, you can offer the $25 donors a signed copy. For a whopping $1000 you can degrade yourself by offering to come to an event of their choice, give a presentation of the book and tell everybody how wonderful your benefactor is while giving away signed copies for free.

The next step is to make a smart financial plan and consider how much money you realistically need to complete your project. You should take into account that you will burn a lot of donation money on perks. This is crucial because you don't want to spend the next three months or so slaving at something that won't give you any profit at all... Wait a minute!

Did I mention that you get to keep the full 100% ownership of your project? This means that it is actually ok not to make any money at all during the fundraising phase because you can easily monetize later. In fact, lowering your budget goal will enable you to reach the sweet lower 4% commission rate sooner and you get to keep the extra money as well (it gets a 4% cut too.)

Say you want to publish a book - what you offer to your backers are generally pre-sales of the signed copy of the book. These pre-sales finance the material costs of designing the book layout, illustrations, printing etc and keep you alive and fed in your basement while you're writing. At the conclusion of the project you fulfill your pre-sale obligations to your kindly donors and then you are free to keep selling your book for as long as you like, keeping the full profits.

So, what you need is a good, well-written, concise description of your project and its goals (having pics, videos, etc definitely helps). Then you need to offer your kindly contributors some yummy perks and finally make a sound financial plan for the project so you can list your budget goal (the minimum needed for completion) as well as the target date.

And then you put it all on the IndieGoGo website and spend the next few months obsessively checking and re-checking the donation reports instead of actually working on the project.

By the way, unlike some similar sites like the world-famous Kickstarter, you constantly receive donation money as the project progresses, and not at the end of the fundraising period. As the donations trickle in, so they trickle out to your PayPal or credit card account. So it's a model that is better suited for ongoing projects and you can reapply with the same project after its completion period, for example if you want to fund an animal shelter or something.

A Bicycle in Africa
A Bicycle in Africa | Source

I Want To Fund A Project!

So you're one of the 1 percenters, eh? Got dosh to burn?

Just go to IndieGoGo and spread that love around. There are many projects ranging from real humanitarian ones such as giving free bikes to kids in Africa so they don't get eaten by lions on the way to school up to financing that one book you always wanted to read but nobody actually came around to writing yet.

You can donate anonymously or with your name prominently displayed for everyone to see. You will get updates on the project's progress and you can badger the project's owners with your smart criticism and ingenious ideas since now you are a part of the team!

You can opt to receive campaign updates from the creators as well as info on how to redeem perks and stuff. Once you become a contributor it would be a smart move to help the project out by promoting it since it is now in your interest for the project to take off. This way you can be sure you'll get your perks as well as that warm inside glow from knowing you contributed to something of value.

It Sounds Too Good To Be True.

Well, it does sound Too Good To Be True but... it seems to be working!

Folks get craploads of money for their cat's hip operations or an opportunity to get smashed at a hippy documentary film festival in Europe. Some very worthwhile projects have been funded too, such as a photographic expedition to the shrinking glaciers around the world and supporting the burgeoning gangsta hip-hop street culture in Vietnam.

Do you know if anyone had a bad experience with IndieGoGo?

See results

But What If It All Goes Wrong?!

Well, there aren't many things that can go wrong since all the money is transparently tracked through the IndieGoGo website.

I haven't heard any horror stories yet, but I can see that there could be some problems if, for example, the project owners renege on their perk obligations. What then? Well you can sue them since the site keeps all the records and provides them to the users if there is a need.

I've scoured the length and the breadth of the Interwebz and I haven't found anyone yelling bloody murder or even complaining in forums that he's been had. That could change at any moment to be sure but from the site's beginning in 2008 till now it all seems as clean as a whistle.

Just make sure that you read (or write) carefully what the project's goals and the perks offered are. You can change pretty much everything on your project's page except the funding goal and perks that have already been redeemed so being a little careful won't hurt.

Another Bicycle in Africa
Another Bicycle in Africa | Source

Hot Damn! But Is It For Me?

If you have an idea that you've been living with for AGES, then it's for you. Just toss it into the frying pan and see what comes out of it. There's nothing you can loose except maybe infuriate some world-class criminal mastermind expecting exclusive signed copies of your first poetry collection bound in gold leaf. But don't forget to run your own PR campaign because IndieGoGo is sure as hell not going to do it for you.

If you have no idea whatsoever what you want to do and you're kinda confused and not really sure what's your purpose on this planet then you can always take a few pathetic photos of your miserable existence and hope someone will have a pity on you. But I doubt it'll happen. You'd be better off panhandling in the street.

However, if you go at it seriously and do your homework and prepare the whole project, including the promotion, BEFORE you actually create an IndieGoGo project page, than you might well have a fighting chance to see your darling come into existence.

And Now... The Reality Check!

It's not all roses though.

You will still have to do the massive bulk of all the advertising for your project. IndieGoGo basically plays the role of a go-between and while it does offer some ways of promoting your project, they don't go very far from share with Twitter and Facebook buttons.

Enter the GoGoFactor.

The site itself has this GoGoFactor thing which determines how often your project is flashed on their homepage, how high it features on the project list and whether they'll use it while promoting their site elsewhere. For fellow hubbers, GoGoFactor works similarly to the HubScore we have here. Basically the more active you are with your project, the more you use sharing tools and update the project status the higher your GoGoFactor will rise. Simply scribbling some "Gief money" thinly veiled excuse for a handout and then forgetting about it won't get you very far.

Additionally the GoGoFactor takes into account "traction" - meaning how much money your project already gathered. So, the more money there is in the pot, the more money will tend to come in. You should seriously consider personally pushing all the folks already interested in your project to put their money where their mouths are and provide that initial couple hundred bucks to show IndieGoGo and the potential donors that your project is alive.

And yes, having The Dubliners AND The Pogues in your promo video should help.


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    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Very interesting. I'll have to check this out. Thanks for the info.