Indiegogo cofounder Danae Ringelmann speaks at Big Omaha 2010.
Indiegogo launched a standalone service Monday that lets users raise money for anything from medical expenses and tuition payments to vacations and parties — without charging them a fee.
The Indiegogo Life platform caters to personal causes that directly impact the life of the individuals involved and waives the site's usual transaction fees — which traditionally go up to 14%, depending on the funding plan and method of payment. The new service also claims to offer a more simple set-up process, and one-on-one support for users.
Indiegogo cofounder Danae Ringelmann told Mash that these kinds of personal causes have played a big role in Indiegogo's success since the service was founded in 2008.
"These life events are oftentimes things that people can’t plan for like emergency medical expenses," Ringelmann said. "A lot of these things can be pretty difficult emotionally, but we’re hoping Indiegogo Life really comes through for them."
One of Indiegogo's most high-profile success stories came in 2012, after a video went viral of four teenagers harassing a 68-year old school bus monitor named Karen Klein. An Indiegogo campaign was started to crowdfund a vacation for Klein.
The goal was set at $5,000 — but after 32,000 contributions, the final amount raised was $703,833.
The Indiegogo team is currently in the process of moving campaigns that fit the criteria for a personal cause onto the new platform. Campaigns are divided into categories such as "medical," "education," "celebrations" and "faith."
Some of the causes that already populate the new service include campaigns to raise money for a new Jeep, surgery for the four-year-old victim of a pit bull attack, five months of rent for a college student and one simply titled "I really need fries."
Ringelmann admits that like any site where users are in control of content, Indiegogo has the potential to be misused. There is little guarantee that campaigns hosted on the site are realistic goals, or that the money raised will actually go towards the stated cause. She says the platform relies on back-end "algorithms, protocols and systems" designed to track fraudulent-looking campaigns, and encourages users to flag postings that raise suspicions.
But for the most part, Ringelmann says, the company does not believe in vetting campaigns. As long as the campaign does not appear to be a scam, does not fund an illegal activity or cause harm to others, the cause's worthiness is left for potential backers to decide.
Indiegogo's chief competitor in the crowdfunding space, Kickstarter, bans any campaign that raises funds for charitable causes. But Indiegogo embraces them, and offers a 25% fee discount to any campaign raising funds for a nonprofit.
Kickstarter's rules also require that projects must "create something that can be shared with others," meaning the personal causes that make up "Indiegogo Life" would be turned away.
Ringelmann hopes the launch of Indiegogo Life will set it apart from other crowdfunding sites by placing more emphasis on charitable giving — and that the lack of fees and quick set-up will further grow the number of personal campaigns.
Tags: CROWDFUNDING, INDIEGOGO, INDIEGOGO LIFE, KICKSTARTER, Tech