GoFundMe Crowdfunding Review 2019
Ratings, Pricing & Comparisons
Is GoFundMe the best Crowdfunding website for you?
With lower marketing costs and online technology which allows us to globally connect with customers, now is the perfect time to start up a new business.
However, there’s one issue…
Entrepreneurs need to raise investment funds to get started!
Well, don’t worry – there’s good news!
Let me introduce you to GoFundMe. This is a popular crowdfunding platform was launched in 2010 by Brad Damphousse and Andrew Ballester with their headquarters located in San Diego. It enables both businesses and individuals to collect donations and create fundraising campaigns. It can be used for charitable endeavors and to help launch new business ventures. Donors are able to contribute monies to campaigns then, once the fundraising goal has been met, recipients can withdraw the money.
GoFundMe advertises itself as being the world’s biggest social fundraising platform having raised over $3billion to date. It doesn’t operate a model that is incentive based but rather sees itself as a unique crowdfunding platform.
With so many crowdfunding platforms on the market, it can be difficult knowing which one to choose…
So, to help you make up your mind, I have reviewed what exactly GoFundMe has to offer including what type of crowdfunding it is suited to.
If you’re ready, lets dive in and get on with it!!
I will put GoFundMe through our rigorous testing and will look at the following aspects.
How does GoFundMe perform and what features do they offer to help create the perfect crowdfunding campaign?
Does GoFundMe offer everything necessary that users expect from a crowdfunding platform?
Does GoFundMe offer quick customer support solutions and help, and can users count on them when it matters most?
Does GoFundMe offer the best pricing in the marketplace? And more importantly, what deals are available that can help users save money?
Setting up a campaign using GoFundMe is easy and self-explanatory, it also offers various ways of offering social sharing.
GoFundMe takes 5% of every donation and like most other crowdfunding platforms pass on their processing fees from a third-party service.
GoFundMe is a flexible crowdfunding site which doesn’t require deadlines or minimum goals in order to receive any funds.
GoFundMe doesn’t have a direct number to call for support but does provide a contact form – they also promise to respond to queries within 5 minutes. GoFundMe however, doesn’t have Live Chat, which was disappointing.
We Don't Like
GoFundMe is a flexible crowdfunding site. It doesn’t require minimum goals or deadlines, in order for a creator to receiving any money. This puts it in the same bracket as other crowdfunding platforms such as FundAnything and Indiegogo – both of which also offer flexible funding.
Very much like Indiegogo, GoFundMe incorporates a ‘charitable arm’, which means that funds can be raised for non-profit organizations. GoFundMe is also suitable for any personal causes, more so those in emergencies where funding is needed like yesterday. However, those looking to fund a creative endeavor might be better off looking at one of the other platforms such as Kickstarter which offers specific tips for a successful campaign and has a much thorough help section.
GoFundMe doesn’t insist on providing rewards to backers – although the option is there if any wishes to do so. The GoFundMe brand is focused on viral charity, with charitable and personal causes making up most of the campaigns. For example, a primary factor in how rapidly GoFundMe has grown is via funding for medical expenses. You could say that GoFundMe has sort of unintentionally become an emergency ‘stop-gap’ to help plug any unexpected holes.
It must be remembered that not only does GoFundMe help people who find themselves upstream without a paddle, they also host crowdfunding campaigns for business ventures.
Now, GoFundMe has always come under criticism for charging a 5% platform fee – simply because the argument was that most times funding was required for those in crisis. This then opened the floodgates for their competitors to come in with free platform fees for charitable fundraising.
So, guess what they did???
That’s right, on November 30th back in 2017, GoFundMe made the huge announcement that the would no longer be applying the 5% platform fee!!
To begin with, this only applied to US-based personal campaigns, however, this has now crept out to certified non-profit charity campaigns and to campaigns which are launched in countries in which the platform operates.
Keep in mind though, that the payment processor will still receive 2.9% of what is raised.
To replace the 5% platform fee, what GoFundMe has done, is add a ‘donate to GoFundMe’ button which is located on the page from which donations are taken, in the hope that some of the voluntary tips will help to offset the revenue lost from fees.
#1 Ease of Use
If a crowdfunding site is difficult to use or understand then the chances are that no-one will want to use it. A good way is by having a look at the startup process, if its tough to begin with then this most definitely is not a good sign.
So, was GoFundMe a walk in the park or more like a trudge in the mud?
Want to know more… well, keep reading…
The set-up process for starting a fundraising campaign, using GoFundMe is very straightforward and self-explanatory. To begin with, simply type in the campaign details, the fundraising goal amount together with any levels of rewards that you may be offering then once all that is completed it possible to have the campaign up and running in under an hour.
One thing I wasn’t too keen on was that GoFundMe aggressively and repeatedly prompted me to sign up using my Facebook account to connect my campaign with my Facebook page, arghhhhh!!!
The bottom line is if you want your campaign to be displayed in the Public Search Directory, then signing up via a Facebook account is a must. Anyone who wants their campaign to publicly be featured on the GoFundMe site needs to have a Facebook account – so for those conscientious objectors, I guess, well it’s just tough…
GoFundMe’s website is easy to use compared with some of the clunkier interfaces of some of its competitors. The platform allows creators to sign up either by Facebook or by using their email address. Once a login has been created, GoFundMe will then prompt for a fundraising goal, postcode, project name and color scheme preference.
An in-depth description and accompanying photograph are a standard requirement, however, to prove that you are indeed an actual person, a Facebook photo can be added, if desired.
To explain your cause in more detail, GoFundMe recommends uploading a video together with photos that are of a high quality.
Next, invite all your contacts from Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail or alternatively, manually input each individual email address. All campaigns have a shortened URL which is unique making it easier to remember and customize when sharing in texts, emails and of course, on Social Media.
To ensure a successful campaign, GoFundMe does provide a tip checklist. Once a campaign is live, updates can be posted to the page.
When it comes to withdrawing funds from GoFundMe, a two-factor authentication must be used. Once your email address and the mobile number have been verified, an account must be set up with GoFundMe’s payment processor which is WePay. Your identification will need to be verified together with your legal name, date of birth, address, social security number, and contact number.
I must say though, for security reasons, I wasn’t too keen on sharing my entire social security number.
Creators can choose to offer their donors rewards as it’s not compulsory. These can be set at various donation levels and the quantities limited. Another great option is being able to set up a ‘wish list’ of items that are necessary in order to reach the larger goal. For example, if the monies being raised were for a trip away, then you may choose to put a camera on the wish list.
Verdict – GoFundMe is very easy to set up and is basically self-explanatory and provides tips and checklists along the way. Some requirements are compulsory, but it was nice to see that certain benefits – such as rewards were optional unlike some of the other crowdfunding platforms.
#2 Customer Support
One thing that I consider to be really important when testing and reviewing anything is what support is available and what shape and form it comes in. After all, we’re all human and need help at some time or another and I want to know that when (not if!!) I need it, that it isn’t too far away.
Exactly what help and support do GoFundMe offer? In this section, we’re going to find out. So, if you’re ready, lets dive in and find out…
So, to begin with, GoFundMe doesn’t list a contact number for immediate support, instead, they provide a contact form. They do however tout their support guarantee – which is five minutes – meaning queries are expected to be responded to within five minutes. I was disappointed though, to find that GoFundMe doesn’t have Live Chat.
The GoFundMe site does answer basic questions relating to the service which I found in the help pages, however, most of the pertinent information could only be sourced in the ‘terms’ page, whose link was somewhat inconspicuously located.
Illustrated below is the cover page of GoFundMe’s Help Centre:
While setting up my campaign, I did experience a bit of a glitch which did prevent me from moving forward. So, I filled and sent over the contact form and within five minutes had received an email saying that it could take 20-30 minutes to get a reply. Well, fast forward 10 minutes and I received a reply explaining that the issue had been fixed and that I was free to continue. How about that for customer service !!
Verdict – Although GoFundMe doesn’t have as many help and support options as some of its competitors, the ones it does have clearly work and include some pretty amazing turnaround times.
#3 Networking tools and features
It’s always a good idea to have a look at what social networking tools a crowdfunding site offers together with what reporting features are offered. As social networking is a crucial piece of crowdfunding, these features are essential. Also, does the crowdfunding site have an active community and more importantly one that is suited to your cause? If it hasn’t then you need to really ask yourself, what exactly are you getting from the platform fee?
So, how did GoFundMe stack up? well carry on reading and let’s find out…
The great thing about GoFundMe is that once a campaign goes ‘live’, its progress can be tracked simply by clicking on the ‘More’ icon, then from the drop-down menu selecting ‘donations’. If payments are received in person e.g. ‘offline donations’ then these can also be easily added. All donations have their own entry which includes the name of the donor, the amount is given, as well as a timestamp. GoFundMe has a ‘thanks’ icon which makes it easy to send donors either thank you emails or even to post messages via Facebook. GoFundMe will also send notifications to creators, once a donation has been received. Housed in the donations section is where you can see a history of updated posts together with any comments. What I found really odd though, was that there wasn’t a chart illustrating how close to reaching your goal you are – something which most of the other competitors do. The only place that progress can be monitor is via the campaign page which does show the goal, the amount raised and also includes a progress indicator.
There are a couple of different ways in which GoFundMe promotes social sharing. Underneath the ‘donate now’ icon on the campaign page is a ‘Facebook’ share one. By linking the account to Facebook, it is then easy to create daily updates on the campaign onto your profile which you can then ask Facebook friends to share. GoFundMe can also be connected to a Twitter account AND it’s even possible to print off campaign signs to post around local businesses.
The dashboard is easy to find and provides some top-notch information, including (most importantly) how much has been raised. To see more detail about a donation that has been made, or social media statistics and campaign visits click on the ‘show campaign activity’ button.
Verdict – GoFundMe offers several social networking features that can which makes it easy to share campaigns with family and friends on social media.
#4 Platform Fees
Platform fees are when a crowdfunding site takes an amount or percentage of the monies raised for either yourself or your cause, I guess its sort of paying for the privilege of actually using the platform. These fees can range from anywhere between 5-12%.
Be careful though, as some fees can increase if the goal isn’t met, while other platforms offer an ‘all or nothing’ model which means that if the expected goal isn’t reached then no funds are received at all.
So, how did GoFundMe’s terms and conditions fare compare to those of its competitors? Let’s keep reading and find out…
When setting up a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign, there isn’t any prompting around setting up a funding period. Of course, you are encouraged to set a funding time period, but either way, you will still be able to keep any monies received – however big or little the amount may be.
Campaigns can be indefinitely kept active even if the funding goal has been surpassed.
Now, let’s have a look at GoFundMe from a donor/backer perspective.
GoFundMe pledges that unlike many other crowdfunding sites, aside from the fee for payment processing, no other charges will be applied to donors.
GoFundMe clarifies this on their site by stating that ‘Sites claiming to be ‘100% Free’ will charge your donors up to 15% and you’ll still need to pay 3% for processing. GoFundMe will never charge your donors anything’.
It should be noted that there are two different types of fundraising campaigns that can be conducted using GoFundMe. Most of the time the majority of GoFundMe Campaigns fall under the bracket of being personal ones. These include raising funds for a beneficiary, for a personal cause as well as business fundraisers.
Certified Charity Campaigns, however, are essentially very different. They allow creators to set up campaign fundraisers for any charity they want to.
What makes Certified Charity campaigns different to those of Personal campaigns is that they are processed via a PayPal Giving Fund – which is a public charity. What this means, is that when donors make a donation, they will be given a tax-deductible receipt plus the organizer of the campaign won’t have to touch the money. This then leads on to an important point that can often be missed by donors. Donations to a Personal Campaign (which most of GoFundMe’s are) are NOT tax-deductible because GoFundMe isn’t a non-profit.
As I mentioned earlier on in this review, it isn’t compulsory to offer donors rewards. It is, however, something that can be done and is recommended as the chances are it will improve the chances of raising more money for the campaign. Rewards can only be applied to Personal campaigns and reward levels can be set as desired.
Like many other crowdfunding platforms GoFundMe takes 5% from each donation and also adds on the payment processing fee from its third-party service. GoFundMe uses WePay and they take a percentage of 2.9 together with a 30-cent fee for each payment.
International fees do vary depending on location. If used for charitable purposes, GoFundMe will take 5% from each donation. I would probably suggest looking at a platform such as Indiegogo for charitable donations as they waive fees for all charitable projects and simply passes on the payment processing fees.
Illustrated below is a brief synopsis of GoFundMe’s terms and fees:
GoFundMe does have some restrictions – but none that are unusual.
These include no graphic content, pornography, illegal activities, gambling or hate speech. Aside from that, GoFundMe is a really flexible crowdfunding platform and doesn’t have any formal approval processes, unlike platforms such as Kickstarter.
Otherwise, GoFundMe is very flexible and has no formal approval process like Kickstarter does.
Verdict – GoFundMe has pretty standard fees to that of its competitors, however, it offers much more flexibility than other platforms, giving the creator much more control.
Is GoFundMe the right crowdfunding platform for you?
Of course, GoFundMe won’t be the correct crowdfunding platform for everyone, so let’s try to get down to who precisely this platform is best suited to.
GoFundMe is perfect for those on a budget. Because GoFundMe makes fee deductions in real time, organizers and beneficiaries never pay anything. What happens is that any deductions are made before the donation is made available to the campaign. Many countries already have a platform fee of 0% on this crowdfunding platform. Credit card processing fees are pretty standard and those donating are given the option to pay these as well during their payment.
GoFundMe is a solid foundation for beginners who are looking to raise funds from both group-based or individual perspectives. It is easy to set up and use, has fewer fees and allows creators to share their campaigns on social networks to increase awareness.
GoFundMe can be used for businesses; however, it does brand itself as being more focused on personal and charitable causes. For high-level businesses or those that have a solid Facebook presence, then I would probably suggest looking at a platform such as Fundly. The costs might be higher, but your story will be presented in a unique way to that of all other major crowdfunding platforms.
Well, that’s it I’m now nearing towards the end of this review and I hope that it has given you an overall idea what GoFundMe is about and what if has to offer. I’m guessing though that the final and most important question is – Is GoFund Me THE ONE, I mean the right crowdfunding platform for YOU and your funding?
What can I say?
It doesn’t require any deadlines or minimum funding amount, which means that creators are able to keep all funds regardless of whether the goal is reached or not. It includes superb integration with social media networks, is easy to set up and use and includes fab tracking features. A word of advice though, for those seeking creative endeavours, I would recommend a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter which does offer a lot more guidance.
GoFundMe’s ambitions are rather grand, and it has been proven to be an extremely invaluable resource for those it has helped due to its specific conception around crowdfunding.
To any entrepreneurs reading this, I would say that perhaps a crowdfunding platform such as Kickstarter might be more appropriate for those seeking funding for creative and tech projects, only due to them offering a higher level of support together with a greater pool of backers who are more likely to fund business orientated projects. Having said that an entrepreneur might set up with GoFundMe and have a really successful campaign – who knows??
For those that have relied on GoFundMe to cover medical emergency costs and tragedies, the platform really is a Godsend. With numbers of such cases rising every day, GoFundMe needs to be recognized for all their efforts in promoting viral charities. Their decision to waive the 5% platform fee simply enhances their willingness to respond to their user’s needs.
So, my final words on GoFundMe is that we have to, in a way root for them as one day we might find ourselves relying on them for survival…
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Now, over to you...
Now I’d love to hear from you:
Are you still unsure of which crowdfunding website is best for you?
Maybe you’ve tried GoFundMe before and would like to tell us about it?
Leave any comments below and I will be sure to answer as soon as they come in!