If you’re in the early stages of planning your crowdfunding campaign, you may need (on some platforms) to submit it for approval before launch. If you’re running a campaign on a rewards-based platform, what do you need to do to get your crowdfunding campaign approved?
Which platforms manually review crowdfunding campaigns?
At the time of writing, Crowdfunder UK doesn’t run a manual review process before launch; you can create your campaign and go live without any direct interaction with the team.
Indiegogo, as part of their new Trust and Safety initiative, have said they’re going to start manually reviewing campaigns before launch. The new Guidepost Program is a work in progress, but the aim is clearly to start with reviewing the biggest/most high profile campaigns and expand from there:
We recognize that our expertise can do a lot to ensure entrepreneurs only launch on Indiegogo when they have a viable plan to deliver. While we cannot guarantee that every campaign will fulfill successfully, we can protect backers from unfeasible projects and outright scams. We now have the resources and expertise to apply this level of scrutiny to all of our largest campaigns and will expand it to every campaign moving forward.Indiegogo
Kickstarter have been reviewing most campaigns for a while now. Since at least 2016 they’ve been recommending creators leave two to three business days in the schedule to allow for approval. They also (as you might expect) offer some of the clearest guidance around what to expect from the review and approval process.
Before a project can launch it may need to be reviewed by our in-house Trust & Safety team. They will make sure that the project is in line with Our Rules, and verify that it’s a project with a specific, finite goal. Additionally, they may offer helpful feedback on ways to structure or present your project. If your project is queued for review this process can take up to three business days.Kickstarter
How can you get your crowdfunding campaign approved?
At the most basic level, you need to make sure your project is both legal and within any restrictions of the platform. In particular, they’re looking at whether your campaign is trying to fund something that is – at the very least – legal, and whether the rewards or perks you’re offering are legal, especially as you can’t verify eligibility in the same way as consumer sales websites (eg you can’t verify your backers are over 18 in the same way an online whisky store can).
So for example you can’t offer rewards of drugs (legal or otherwise) or alcohol, you can’t make any of your rewards a lottery or any other kind of gambling (like, ‘everyone who pledges £5 will go into a prize draw to win [something]’), you can’t offer weapons or firearms, you can’t offer financial equity, and you can’t offer porn. Each of the platforms have their own requirements for what you can and can’t offer, but there’s a lot of overlap.
One exception to the lottery/prize draw question is Crowdfunder – you can’t offer it as part of an ordinary crowdfunding campaign, but you can run a dedicated prize draw.
- Crowdfunder’s project guidelines
- Indiegogo’s community guidelines
- Kickstarter’s prohibited items and rules
If your rewards are all above board and compliant, the next thing any review process looks at will be what your project offers. Is it something that looks possible and likely to go ahead, if you hit your target? Is your funding target realistic?
In practice, for a well thought through campaign, the review process is often very quick and painless. But just as you’ll need to show your backers why your project is trustworthy and reliable, you’ll also need to show the platform team the same thing – so anything you can do to build trust will help.
Don’t just pick a realistic funding target – show your budget and explain what your anticipated costs are. Don’t just talk about what you’ll achieve – explain how you’re going to get there, what your timeline is, which things need to happen first. Don’t just give your name or your company – show why you’re the person or organisation best placed, and with the most relevant experience, to make this happen.
If you already have a realistic and practical campaign plan, the review process will simply mean a few days’ breathing space before launch. And if your campaign doesn’t get approved the first time, Kickstarter and Indiegogo will let you know why – and give you tips on what to improve.