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Crowdfunding: A New Fundraising Option for Libraries

by on June 4, 2014

Crowdfunding is sweeping the world as a great way for ideas to be brought to fruition. Products that may never have been manufactured in the past are finding new audiences through websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Librarians are no strangers to asking for assistance through donations. We’re also always watching trends and using them to best meet patron need, and crowdfunding is no exception. In fact, library projects are becoming so popular, Kickstarter had a link to library-related projects from its homepage at the time of writing this post. Do a library search on Indiegogo and you’ll find a wide variety of projects.

If you’re thinking of using one of these websites as a funding possibility, here are a few things to consider. If you don’t achieve your goal on Kickstarter, no one who signed up to contribute will be charged, and you don’t receive any of the pledges. The company states that this model makes the process less risky for the creator and the funders, as well as providing strong motivation to get your campaign out there and visible. They charge a 5% fee for the money collected by creators.1 You can find more information on their FAQ page.

On the other hand, Indiegogo has two funding options: fixed or flexible. Like Kickstarter’s method, the fixed funding is an all or nothing approach. The Indiegogo website offers the flexible funding option because they say sometimes any amount will help you toward your goals. If you reach your goal, you are charged 4% if you are for-profit, and 3% as a nonprofit. If you chose flexible funding and don’t reach your goals, you are charged 9%. Fixed funding options that aren’t met are not charged anything.2 The costs of a campaign are further explained on their Fees & Pricing page.

Recently, my library’s foundation, the Pikes Peak Library District Foundation, Colorado Springs, Colo., embarked on an Indiegogo campaign as part of our larger fundraising venture, for our new location, Library 21c. This building will contain a makerspace with 3D printing. We hoped to raise funds to purchase a MakerBot Replicator Z-18 to go along with our smaller 3D printers.

This endeavor was our first time using this kind of fundraising, but wound up being successful even though the online campaign does not reflect it. Some donations were sent directly to the Foundation from people who weren’t interested in going through an online funding source. Also, the Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District heard about the campaign and became interested, which led them to fund the remaining balance of the project. The Foundation’s Development Associate, Cheryl Martin, told me that had more people publicly commented on the project, we would have achieved greater visibility and possibly been more successful online. She said that the process for using Indiegogo was easy with templates and outlines, and she would definitely use it again.3

Interested in learning more? Check out these articles from Library Journal and American Libraries.


  1. Kickstarter. “FAQ.” Kickstarter.com.  (accessed May 21, 2014).
  2. Indiegogo. “Indiegogo Basics.Indiegogo.com.  (accessed May 21, 2014).
  3. Martin, Cheryl, interview by Becca Cruz. Development Associate for the Pikes Peak Library District Foundation (May 22, 2014).