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Kickstarter Has Stopped Vetting Projects

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“Don’t believe everything you read on the internet” – Abraham Lincoln.

The internet is 25 years old as of this year and you probably know by now that you shouldn’t trust everything you find online to be 100% true. This is the golden rule of the internet and it is particularly important to remember when someone is asking for money, whether it be through advertisements, spam emails, or crowdfunding projects on Kickstarter or Indiegogo; you may end up throwing your money away.

For anyone who is not familiar with crowdfunding and sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe or any of the many others that facilitate it, crowdfunding is a method of raising money for projects without the risk of taking out a loan from the bank. If you have an idea for a project you want to get funded, you go to one of these sites, put up a description of what your project is and how you’ll use the money, and list a variety of incentives for people to donate more money.

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On most of these sites, the project has a certain window of time in which to be funded. If the project makes its funding goal before the deadline, people can continue to donate until it reaches the end of that window of time. At Kickstarter, however, if the project doesn’t reach its goal before the deadline, no one pays. As it says on Kickstarter’s frequently asked questions page, “Projects are all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a project unless it reaches its funding goal. This way, creators always have the budget they scoped out before moving forward.” But at Indiegogo, if the project doesn’t reach its goal before the deadline, the project still gets the money people pledged to it.

GoldieBlox, the engineering toy we wrote about a while back, was funded on Kickstarter. Youtube star Hannah Hart breezed past her funding goal of $50,000 on Indiegogo to take her show on the road in under a day! Crowdfunding is a very powerful tool that has produced several successful endeavors but not every idea looking for crowdfunding is worth your time; some are clearly doomed from the start and others are outright scams.

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Initially, Kickstarter, the largest of all crowdfunding sites, stood out with their stringent vetting process. While this could be a hurdle, and often frustrating, for those genuinely looking to raise money for their business ideas or personal missions, it added a layer of perceived safety to those looking to donate. It would appear that one would rather donate on a site where they had some assurance that their money was truly going to quality endeavors. This is especially important with the surge in people setting up crowdfunding accounts for anything from a personal trip to Sweden to educational resources for children to building your own island.

So with all the potential for scammers, why would Kickstarter stop vetting projects? That’s right, they no longer do this. With other crowdfunding sites never having vetted anyone, and with them gaining momentum, perhaps Kickstarter is following suit and asking themselves why someone would choose to go through an arduous approval process when they can go to Indiegogo and be approved immediately?

Kickstarter had a good track record of preventing scammers from collecting on their scams, but crowdfunding is still a risky business. Ultimately, there is nothing that requires a crowdfunded project to deliver on its promises and without Kickstarter vetting these projects, crowdfunding is now completely done in good faith. Sadly, there are so many great projects (and great people!) that need crowdfunding, but as we always remind you, apply common sense safety measures, and do your homework, especially now that there’s nothing keeping the scams out of the mix.

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