We’ve written about a lot of crowdfunding campaigns here at DPReview. Crowdfunding is a great way for products that never would have stood a chance otherwise to get off the ground and eventually into consumers’ hands. However, not every campaign is successful, and sometimes people can end up feeling swindled. While we’re careful to share only campaigns that appear reputable, crowdfunding sites themselves are working to improve their screening process and ensure that users have a more positive, safer experience when funding campaigns.
To better vet campaigns, Indiegogo will no longer be a fully open platform. Anyone can still create a campaign and try to raise money, but it will be manually reviewed before the campaign goes live.
Will Haines, vice president of product and customer trust at Indiegogo said, ‘Candidly, we have not always lived up to our backers’ expectations.’ He added, ‘However, I’ve learned that ‘open’ is not what our community wants. Crowdfunding is not shopping — people generally understand that now — but it also shouldn’t be a leap in the dark. And it certainly can’t be scamming.’
Since being founded 10 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people have realized their entrepreneurial dreams on Indiegogo. However, for the user, it hasn’t always been a positive experience. The community needs to be able to make a measured risk when supporting a campaign and have the tools in order to make an informed decision that makes sense for them.
To that end, Indiegogo has been busy in the past year. The company has totally revamped its Trust & Safety team under its new Trust Director and industry veteran, Nelson Ho. Indiegogo has also created an Internal Review Board to oversee its critical Trust decisions and ensure that the company is keeping its backers interests at the forefront of all decisions.
Indiegogo is joining GoFundMe, a competing crowdfunding platform, to co-found the Crowdfunding Trust Alliance. The two are looking forward to expanding their alliance to other crowdfunding platforms.
While Indiegogo cannot guarantee that every campaign results in successful fulfilment, even when ensuring that entrepreneurs have a viable delivery plan, the platform can protect backers from outright scams. Indiegogo has the resources to scrutinize large campaigns, but will expand this level of oversight to all campaigns moving forward.
Platforms like Indiegogo, GoFundMe and Kickstarter incentivize people, even if not intentionally, to make grand promises and bold claims. After all, if you are trying to fund a project, you need to encourage people to contribute. Just on Indiegogo, in the past 10 years, the money that backers have given to campaigns has grown by over 5,500 percent. That’s a lot of money changing hands and there’s not always a successful outcome for backers.
As pointed out by The Verge, crowdfunding platforms have historically shirked some responsibility for campaigns failing to deliver. They’re platforms that facilitate a transactional relationship, but they haven’t always been heavily policing the platform, and certainly nobody has taken the hands-on approach that Indiegogo promises moving forward.
Even if there are short-term gains by allowing more campaigns, even if bad actors make their way onto the platform, the long-term viability of crowdfunding platforms requires that backers trust the platform and expect a positive outcome when they contribute money to a campaign.
Over at GoFundMe, president Juan Benitez said, ‘Since our founding in 2010, we have become a household name and trusted leader in online fundraising, raising more than $15 billion for our beneficiaries, from over 200 million donations around the world…As we inspire the generosity of friends and family members of those who need help, and even to kindle the kindness of strangers, trust is core to our mission.’
At GoFundMe, a quarter of the company’s global employees work to monitor fundraisers, investigate fraud complaints and work with law enforcement when necessary. That’s a lot of people dedicated to building trust between the platform’s beneficiaries and those who give money.
You can learn more about GoFundMe’s efforts and why it has joined the crowdfunding Trust Alliance by clicking here.
The next time a neat photography campaign shows up on Indiegogo, potential backers can know that the campaign has been checked out by Indiegogo itself. While not every funded campaign works out for any number of legitimate reasons, hopefully, the overall success rate and quality of campaigns will improve moving forward.